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The Women Who Inspire

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Women who inspire

Women leaders in the industry share leadership advice, how they overcame their biggest challenges and more. 

Mindi Bridges, the chief brand and marketing officer for VASA Fitness

Mindi

What is one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?

MB: Every leader should possess humility. It’s important for leaders to show vulnerability in not knowing all of the answers, to share credit for accomplishments and be willing to learn from others at all levels within the organization. Humility allows leaders to remain open to new ideas so they can continue to grow and innovate.

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

MB: The biggest challenge lies in fostering a safe environment where individuals feel safe sharing their feelings, ideas and feedback. When people hold back and don’t feel comfortable being themselves and connecting on a personal level, work becomes just a job and typically people don’t perform to their full potential.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

MB: Leading several different functions in the company, I am most proud of making it a priority to consistently provide clear vision and direction to my teams. 

What trends are you seeing in the health club industry?

MB: Now post-pandemic and more than ever, we’re seeing people choose to invest in brands with values that align closely with theirs. At VASA, our brand is about creating safe spaces and resources for not only physical fitness, but mental fitness as well. Brands that are doing well are achieving great results because they listen to their members and employees and make sure they know their best interests are always the priority. 

Michaela Brown, the group fitness manager at VIDA Fitness

Michaela

What is one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?

MB: Self-awareness is one of the most important characteristics a leader should possess because it allows a leader to efficiently utilize their strengths and weaknesses to maximize the potential of their team.

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

MB: One of the biggest challenges facing leaders today is making diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) a mainstay in their organization’s plan. Many leaders get the importance of DEI, but most do not know where to start and how to execute an intentional and enduring plan for giving a greater variety of people a meaningful seat at the table.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

MB: There are two major milestones that stand out when I think about the many accomplishments I have achieved in my life. The first is becoming the first African American letter-winner and captain of the Georgetown University Women’s Field Hockey Team. The second is becoming a mother of two beautiful little boys. In both instances, I was able to defy odds, break barriers and show women of all ages, backgrounds and careers the only boundaries are the ones we succumb to ourselves.

What trends are you seeing in the health club industry?

MB: Growing health club trends include outdoor training, virtual training and hybrid group fitness formats that combine person-to-person engagement with fitness.

Brittany Burton, the director of global operations at Taymax Group, LP

Brittany

 What is one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?

BB: Every leader must be communicative. Communication has a domino effect with those around you. If you have clear, positive communication it can motivate and energize your team. Lack of clear communication forces others to make assumptions to fill the gaps, which often leads to duplicative work and frustration for all involved. Communication is essential not only within a team, but throughout cross-functional partnerships as well. Poor communication can derail a project and force deadlines to be pushed, while good communication skills will ensure a project remains on track and there are no surprises. As more businesses move to incorporate some level of remote work, it is more important now than ever before that as leaders we can communicate clearly and efficiently on various platforms.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

BB: Training and development are two things I am very passionate about. Our organization focuses on people first. I had the opportunity to lead an amazing team that created an internal onboarding and development program that focuses on our field leaders. Since launching this program, approximately 75% of our senior field leadership positions have been filled internally. This program is ever evolving, and I look forward to seeing the continued progress. It would not have been this successful without my team and the dedication of those individuals who are always looking for ways to develop as a leader.

Kristen Green, the executive general manager of Aquafit

Women who inspire

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

KG: Given the hectic pace of life and business, I would say managing and leading teams through change is one of the biggest challenges for leaders today. While it is said, “The only thing that is constant is change,” just the prospect of any disruption or change can cause fear and anxiety among teams. Many managers and some leaders are simply not equipped with the tools to navigate teams through change. As leaders, our role is to preemptively overcome the resistance to change by understanding the psychological causes. Leaders who are effective change management agents will create a compelling vison of how the change will take place, minimize resistance and achieve the desired outcomes, and communicate this through actions and training.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

KG: My greatest professional accomplishment to date was to be selected to deliver the start-up business of Aquafit for the Campbelltown Catholic Club in 2004. Aquafit is often cited as an example of industry best practice in Australia, and is recognized as one of the most awarded businesses in the country. I am proud of the positive and inclusive culture that exists within the business, and that we are inextricably woven into the fabric of our local community. After 17 years in this role, each day still brings its share of both challenges and rewards.

Lisa Gorsline, the president and general manager of Corpus Christi Athletic Club

Women who inspire

What is one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?

LG: Empathy. I feel great leaders adapt to their surrounding environments and empower the team to succeed together. I am passionate about developing our leaders I oversee; I am constantly working to help them improve their emotional intelligence as well as working to build a strong team culture. 

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

LG: The ability to persuade your team to keep moving forward and asking them to do more with less. Leadership is about inspiring your team to do things they never thought they could do. Great leaders treat their team with empathy, compassion and truly care about the people they lead. Ask about their lives and truly listen. They’ll feel needed, inspired and they will trust you.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

LG: I am most proud of our team, our culture and the community we’ve created within our club. Prior to COVID-19, I had 200 employees and we were seeing an attendance of over 2,000 members a day. We stuck together as a team and learned that together is better than any one of us. We lifted each other up when we needed it. We laughed, cried, talked and most of all stuck by each other’s sides during the pandemic/crisis. Now we are stronger together and we feel nothing can take us down.

April McCullough, the general manager of the North Little Rock Athletic Club

Women who inspire

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

AM: One of my proudest moments was when I laid down the things I was most proud of in order to serve. In 2015, I left my government position as a licensed respiratory therapist, and I embarked on an adventure of discovering who I was without the titles, degrees, accolades, positions and relationships. The things I thought made me who I was turned out to be someone else’s dream. I began by volunteering and that is when I started to see the world in a different way. Then I joined the health and fitness industry and realized how much I enjoyed being a part of it. I have met some amazing people on this journey, and most of them are equally as passionate as I am about being proactive about their health.

What trends are you seeing in the health club industry?

AM: One of the current trends I see in health clubs include the increasing use of technology for fitness needs. With many more apps available for workouts and the availability of wearable technology, people are finding it easier to be accountable to their fitness routines. More health clubs have made the switch to hybrid models by adding online workout classes to their membership. Our club has a YouTube channel for online workouts as well as live classes on social media throughout the day. We also have a club app to help people stay abreast of club news and information.  

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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