For years women have been saying there weren’t enough programs at IHRSA to address their specific needs. But this time around, Nicki Anderson, an IDEA master trainer, author and business owner, offered a seminar titled, “Women in Fitness: Finding the Work/Life Balance.”
Female business owners are on the rise, and Anderson shared both the challenges and successes she’s seen as a woman who's raised four kids, partly while working. She said she wanted to help women who are juggling life and work by offering strategies around setting goals and systematically finding balance.
Anderson’s been in the industry since the 1979. Back then, she said, “All there was was heavy silver Nautilus equipment and we weren’t even called personal trainers."
“We just really helped people [on] one-size-fits all equipment, and I taught aerobics barefoot.”
She left the industry to have a family but returned in 1992, opening her current private home studio in 1998. She found a niche by offering private rooms for clients so they wouldn’t feel self-conscious while working out.
Anderson suggested others create similarly unique businesses to set themselves apart. Wherever studios, training centers or specialty retailers are located, there's competition right next door — from big box store like Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sports Authority. Finding a niche helps get a one-up on the big competition.
According to Anderson, as of 2011, there were 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the country that generated $1.3 trillion in revenue and employed more than 7 million people.
Between 1997 and 2011, the number of businesses grew 34 percent, with about half of those women-owned, Anderson said.
With so many women-owned businesses thriving, there are myths floating around — for example, that women are poor negotiators, emotional rather than practical, reactive versus proactive and unskilled at decision-making. All false, Anderson said.
Anderson’s take? Women are simply passionate, and while they may react with a little more emotion, that sets them apart.
“I think that emotion factor makes me a better boss,” said Anderson, who oversees eight employees. “I think I’m practical and emotional in a good way.”
The facts about women in business, according to Anderson? Women by nature are excellent communicators and great multitaskers. Women are passionate leaders. Women are willing to try new things. Women are great teachers. Women are assertive. Women are caretakers.
“A lot of the women I work with on a consulting basis don’t understand their value — the value of their time and their talent,” she said.
There are a number of obstacles facing women in the industry Anderson said.
She encourages women to understand what they do well and focus on it, delegating the rest to employees. She also presses women to love their work, be a role model, and take risks.
“Your gut is your greatest gift,” Anderson said. “That’s where I see a lot of women fall down is they fail to listen to their intuition.”
For Anderson, being systematic in her approach to work and life has been a key to success. She sets daily goals, without which she said she’s lost. She offers several strategies for women to be able to be fulfilled at work, therefore leading to a better balancing of life and work.
Anderson said, “At the end of the day if you’re fulfilled and loving what you’re doing, it’s going to come out in everything that you do.”