There was a time when the fitness world was a boys' club dominated by bodybuilding bros and pro athletes who weren't so welcoming of women. But nowadays, the fitness industry is basically run by women. Think about it: The top boutique workout companies (like SoulCycle and ClassPass) were founded by women, and many well-respected trainers and fitness professionals just so happen to be women.
But even as we've carved out space in this realm, many of us still have to deal with sexist stereotypes when it comes to athleticism and earning potential (yes, the gender wage gap in sports and fitness is real). Women face a complicated double-standard when it comes to exercise, because being physically strong and outwardly muscular is often seen as unfeminine or unbecoming of a woman. Thankfully, there are plenty of fierce women who have dedicated their careers to challenging this stigma.
So, to celebrate women's achievements in fitness, we asked top influencers and experts in the industry to lift up other women (so to speak) by sharing who's inspiring them right now.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Refinery29 is asking women to pay-it-forward by endorsing a female colleague or expert in their field. Head here to discover inspiring women across all of the categories R29 covers.
Alison Désir (@alisonmdesir
), Under Armour athlete, Harlem Run
and Run 4 All Women
T. Morgan Dixon (@morgantreks
), the co-founder of the health nonprofit GirlTrek
, which aims to reduce the leading causes of preventable death among Black women, and build communities in the process.
"T. Morgan Dixon inspires me to think bigger and in more inclusive ways about health and fitness. Following Morgan is a glimpse at what is possible when women combine their passion, platform and resources for a cause and purpose bigger than themselves!"
Chloe Kernaghan (@chloe_kernaghan
), Sky Ting Yoga
co-founder and special programs directorSHOUTING OUT:
Corinne Wainer and Shauny Lamba, co-founders of ShaktiBarre,
a yoga and barre studio that doubles as a community space in Brooklyn. In addition to hosting fitness classes, they honor activism in the yoga community by offering sliding-scale prices and supporting educational yoga programs.
"I nominate two women who I actually don't know personally, but totally respect and admire the work they're doing: Corinne Wainer and Shauny Lamba of @shaktibarre
. They've created a boutique fitness studio in Brooklyn [and its] foundation is laid around inclusivity, empowerment, and developing community. I think it's rad how strong and true they are to their mission statement, and I love how they're figuring out ways to make all women from all backgrounds feel welcome!"
Krissy Jones (@krassyjones
), Sky Ting Yoga
co-founder and yoga directorSHOUTING OUT:
Kirsty Godso (@kirstygodso
), a Nike Master Trainer and PROJECT By Equinox instructor. Her workouts are HIIT-specific, and emphasize strength and plyometrics.
"Kirsty and I met through Nike this fall and we instantly became close friends. Kirsty got me into working out more, and I got her into yoga; I go to her class at least once a week and I feel so much stronger in my practice, and she practices at SKY TING and says it helps with her sleep and mobility. Chloe, Kirsty, and I developed a class together called PYRO TINGS which is half high intensity and half yoga which is the best combo (you can find it on the schedule at SKY TING)! Such a joy to work together, but she’s also truly a great friend, super supportive, and gives the best advice. She’s the real deal, people!"
Chelsea Foss (@chelseajfoss
), SoulCycle instructor
in New York CitySHOUTING OUT:
Janet Fitzgerald (@spinpimp
), a senior master instructor and senior training officer at SoulCycle. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she's dedicated to fostering new talent within the SoulCycle community.
"I nominate Janet Fitzgerald
for International Women’s Day. Janet is a fierce leader and coach and her creativity is unparalleled. She is one of the most humble human beings I know and consistently pushes her team of riders and instructors to be their best."
Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn
), yoga teacher and body positivity advocateSHOUTING OUT:
Mirna Valerio (@themirnavator
), an ultra-marathoner who runs the blog, FATGIRLRUNNING
. Her book, A Beautiful Work In Progress,
is available now. When she's not running or writing, Valerio is a Spanish teacher and choral director.
"Mirna Valerio is an ultra runner, coach, writer, mother, and all-around bad ass. We worked together on JCPenney’s #HereIAm campaign and she inspired me to leap past my own mental hurdles. I am so proud to be in community with such an incredible trailblazer (pun totally unintended, but I’ll go with it)."
Holly Rilinger (@hollyrilinger
), Nike Master Trainer and creator of LIFTED, a workout that incorporates HIIT and meditationSHOUTING OUT:
Gina Bradley (@paddlediva
), founder of Paddle Diva,
an East Hampton-based stand-up paddle board (SUP) company that celebrates the physical and mind-body benefits of SUP. While Paddle Diva's initial goal was to reach women, Gina Bradley strives to make the sport accessible for people regardless of their background or fitness level.
"Gina Bradley is a hard-working female entrepreneur, mother of two, and tireless advocate of environmental causes. Gina's most admirable qualities are her humility and unselfish nature. She is a loyal friend and stand-up leader in the community — these are the kind of role models we need in the health and wellness industry. It's a great reminder that it's NOT ABOUT US, but the people we help every day."
Nicole Winhoffer (@nicolewinhoffer
), dancer and creator of NW MethodSHOUTING OUT:
Kate Hudson (@katehudson
), an actress and the co-founder of Fabletics
, a monthly subscription service that provides workout gear at an affordable price.
"Kate Hudson is fun and free-spirited, and a cool mom. When we work out, it’s a connection of dance, life, and freedom. I nominate her for International Women’s Day, because every woman should have balance and Kate represents that."