When it Comes to Fitness, What Do Women Want?

February is Heart Health Month! Don your favorite red attire on February 3 to support National Wear Red Day. Why red? The American Heart Association’s #GoRed campaign raises awareness for heart disease – the #1 killer of women. The color of power, the color of our hearts, red symbolizes all the ways we can support women’s heart health.

Womens Heart Health has Improved

Up until fifteen years ago, many women weren’t paying attention to the dangers of heart disease, or they perceived it to be a man’s disease. Since then, we’ve learned about the deadly impact it has on the female population and significant strides have been made thanks to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.1

According to www.goredforwomen.org, over the last fifteen years:

  • Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
  • More than one-third of women have lost weight.
  • More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
  • 6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
  • More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
  • One-third of women have talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
  • Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day.
  • Death in women has decreased by more than 30% over the past 10 years.

But despite all this progress, more work and outreach is needed. One in three women still dies of heart disease and stroke each year.

The Impact of Fitness Centers

Back in 2012, Total Beauty conducted a study which found that 79% of women didn’t have fitness memberships.2 The impact of fitness membership was shown just last week when the Iowa State study released data that suggests that “Gym members were 14 times more aerobically active than non-members and 10 times more likely to meet muscle-strengthening guidelines, regardless of their age and weight.”3

While fitness center demand is up, we still have more work to do, and this is where you come in. Give women what they want in your gym and fitness center and you’ll be well on your way to being an active participant in fighting heart disease.

What DO Women Want?

So what’s the answer to the eternal question: What do women want? Well, when it comes to fitness, we’ve got you covered:

  • Wellness: Women want to be healthy people in all ways from the inside out. They want fitness to be a way to get in touch with who they are, what they can accomplish and how they feel. That requires more than just a treadmill. Overall wellness, with a holistic approach, is the goal for most women.
  • Fun: Women are more relationship-oriented, and while they don’t shy away from the burn (remember, they birth babies), having a connected, fun experience with others will encourage more participation.
  • Acceptance: A study out of England in 2014 found that 75% of British women wanted to exercise more, and knew they should exercise more, but didn’t due to fear of being judged on their abilities, appearance, or “putting themselves first” over others.4 Creating a culture that accepts all shapes, sizes, abilities and circumstances is critical to maintaining a strong female membership. Implement inspirational messaging and programming such as “Yes You Can,” and “Girl Power” to ensure women know EVERYONE is welcome at your gym.
  • Diversity: Traditionally, women participate in cardio and flexibility experiences like treadmills, ellipticals, yoga, etc. Particularly for those who are new to the gym scene, women might need extra support in learning about how strength training – and which strength training – can be helpful for them. It also is what might give them the desired “look” they want. Making weights and resistance accessible and comfortable for women is key to diversifying their workouts. For more on this, check out the latest at the Wall Street Journal.5 
  • Convenience: Today, more than ever, women are juggling multiple priorities and anything that stands in the way of making a visit to the gym anything but convenient will limit their participation (and membership) at your gym. A robust, fully-hosted system like ACTIVE Net can offer 24/7 online account management and tailored communication that encourages easy activity.

Doing your part to empower women and girls at your fitness center will not only boost your membership, it will fight a devastating disease that kills the female population. Start by wearing red on February 3, and keep the support going by making your recreation center a place women want to be.


1National Wear Red Day

2Huffington Post: What Women Want – From Your Gym

3Iowa State University: To Improve Health and Exercise More, Get a Gym Membership 

4The Daily Mail: Scared of Being Judged at the Gym?

5The Wall Street Journal: Women Want Real Weights at the Gym