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Women Rock! We Do!

Julie MainI was delighted to attend the Third Annual Women’s Leadership Summit on March 14th at IHRSA’s 31st Annual International Convention & Trade Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In 2009, I was fortunate to have been honored with the first “Emerging Female Business Leader Award” in memory of the late Julie Main, and that started me off on a journey—one more incredible than I could’ve imagined, and one that continued with this year’s event.

The summit began in honor of Main, as an effort to empower women and create more female leaders in the industry. It’s an opportunity for women leaders in the industry to get together and share, learn, and grow from each other.

Julie was an inspiration to all who knew her. Starting as the bookkeeper at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club, in Santa Barbara, California, she worked her way up to become the general manager. She also served as the president of IHRSA. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 36, Julie not only maintained her active and healthy lifestyle throughout her treatment, but also founded the Cancer Well-fit Program to help other cancer patients benefit from exercise.

IHRSA/The Photo GroupThis year’s topic was “Success Through Vision, Value & Verve!” The summit panelists were: Jill Kinney, the managing director of Clubsource; Janet Frenkel, the COO of the American Council on Exercise (ACE); and Pat Laus, the CEO of The Atlantic Club, Inc. Debra Siena, the president of Proactive Partners, a division of TCA Holdings, LLC, served as moderator. There were also 15-minute roundtable discussions that were facilitated by other extraordinary women.

Here are just a few highlights from the three-hour event.

IHRSA/The Photo GroupPat spoke about the importance of having a value system for your company. Then, once you do, it’s important to interview prospective employees for values, as well as for skills, and to evaluate new employees after 90 days to make sure they’re a good fit for your company. It’s also important to acknowledge that values can change over time, and they may differ between generations. 

Janet talked about the importance of having a vision—of envisioning your objectives. One of her lofty goals is to connect fitness with healthcare. She urged her listeners to write down their personal vision statement, and, when doing so, to pretend that the word impossible didn’t exist. She acknowledged how long it had taken her to achieve several of her goals. In the case of ACE, it took 11 years to reach her current position, but she made it. Finally, she urged the group to not care what other people think, but, rather, to define success in their own words.

IHRSA/The Photo GroupJill spoke about verve and a recent objective—to create more time to spend with her kids. As the co-founder of Club One, Inc., she looked carefully for the right person to entrust her company to. It took four years, but she found him—Bill McBride, now president and COO of Club One, and, as of July, the new chairperson of IHRSA’s board of directors. As the managing director of Clubsource, her new company, Jill develops new clubs for municipalities, and now has the work-family balance that she’d hoped for—and the verve to see her business grow.

Her best advice: Women tend to lack confidence; if that’s the case, seek out others to help you increase it. Think big, act small, and scale fast. Failure happens, so have a back-up plan. Identify stakeholders, and include them all—not just your staff, but your bankers, vendors, and others. Build, measure, and learn to refine your business, taking it to the next level. Don’t just do it; do your homework, too. And, finally: you have just one chance to make a first impression.

IHRSA/The Photo GroupAt this point, I feel very much a part of this “women’s leadership sorority," as many of the attendees have called it. The knowledge and support I’ve gained has been very important as I grow my own business, O2 Max, a youth fitness media company based in Santa Monica, California. My vision, my mission, is to teach young people how to exercise and eat properly, while preventing injury, by making use of dynamic programs and social media.  

With the support of smart, knowledgeable and caring women like these, I feel a tremendous optimism about my life, my business, and the students that I’m committed to helping.

- Karen Jashinsky is the founder and CEO of 02 Max Fitness and can be reached at

Reader Comments (1)

This year's Women's Leadership Summit was fantastic -- from the speakers' inspiring presentations to the insightful roundtable discussions. I was honored to participate. Thanks, Karen, for providing this reminder of what transpired that afternoon at IHRSA and for encouraging us to continue building our personal and professional networks.
April 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Hoeffer

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