Woman Leader Award in honor of Julie Main

IHRSA celebrates the legacy of Julie Main by offering the Woman Leader Award to a woman who exemplifies Julie's qualities of leadership and drive.

The recipient of the Woman Leader Award receives a scholarship to attend IHRSA’s Annual International Convention & Trade Show. 

Applications for the 2018 award are now being accepted. The deadline for submissions is November 10, 2017.

Eligibility: Women employed by IHRSA member clubs in good standing are eligible to apply.


About Julie Main

Julie Main was an assertive, yet compassionate leader who made a meaningful impact on the health and fitness industry, her colleagues, and her community. Julie led the way for women in the industry, serving as a role model even in the face of adversity. Her tenacious drive and unbreakable spirit was an inspiration to all who knew her. 

Julie was the co-owner and President of the West Coast Athletic Clubs in California.  She was a former Board Member and past president of IHRSA as well as an industry speaker.  After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, Julie took personal adversity and co-created a community organization, the Cancer Well-fit Program, which has enabled cancer patients to feel better about themselves and cope with cancer through exercise.

Julie Main passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer in 2009. In celebration of the legacy Julie left behind, IHRSA proudly offers the Woman Leader Award.

Helen Durkin, IHRSA's Executive Vice President of Public Policy, wrote a poignant article about Julie's legacy for a women's health blog. Read it here.

Q & A with Julie's former Colleagues

We asked some of Julie's former colleagues to help convey who Julie was by answering a few questions about her. Here is some of what they had to say:

Eric Schmitz
President, California Athletic Clubs
(Formerly Executive Vice President, West Coast Athletic Clubs)

IHRSA: How would you sum up Julie's attitude as a business woman?

Eric: Julie was a very driven person. She was a self-described tough business woman, but those that knew her knew that she had a kind and wonderful heart. Julie was unique in her ability to bridge the gap between the numbers and the people. She was smart in that she knew if she attained the good people and took care of them they would take care of the numbers part of the business. Her most important business investment was the investment that she made in her people. She was always available to share an idea with, help with members issues, or give advice on just about anything.

John Herzog
Senior Corporate Sales Executive, Citrix Online
(Formerly Sales Director, West Coast Athletic Clubs)

IHRSA: What made Julie a great person to work with?

John: Julie was the quintessential leader. I remember the day in the early 90’s when she sat down with me alone and told me she had breast cancer. She was devastated. That lasted about 24 hours. And as everybody around her was sad and dramatic, she got busy building the Cancer Well-fit Program. That was the irony during all the days of Julie’s illness, even until the end. People loved her and were so sad for her, yet ironically, she would be the one to stay strong and be there to console you when you were grieving for HER! That was so Julie. Life gave her lemons, and not only would she make lemonade, but she would do a business plan for a chain of lemonade stands and create a distribution network to get the product to those who needed it the most! That was the Well-fit program. She transformed her own challenges into opportunities to help others.

Lynne Brick
President/Owner at Brick Bodies Fitness Services, Inc.
Member of the scholarship judging committee

IHRSA: Can you share a story about Julie from your many years working together that demonstrates what kind of a leader she was?

Lynne: Julie was an incredible leader.  She embodied everything a leader stands for:  perseverance, excellence, integrity, humility, courage, intelligence – especially emotional intelligence, plus much more.  One of the things I admired most about Julie was her persistence and her perseverance. Julie was denied acceptance as an IHRSA board member many times before she was finally selected. Then, Julie had the distinction of serving as a board member longer than anyone else. 

IHRSA: What do think Julie meant to females in the health club industry? How did she help break down barriers in what was once a mail dominated industry?

Lynne: Julie’s legacy is the fact that she was such a respected leader and role model amongst her peers.  Barriers? She didn’t seem to perceive that there were barriers because she simply exuded professionalism and excellence; traits that anyone admires. 

Past recipients of the Julie Main Woman Leader Scholarship were honored to share their thoughts as well.

Karen Jashinsky
Founder & CEO, O2 MAX Fitness

IHRSA: What was it like knowing that Julie herself was one of the judges to select you as the first recipient of the scholarship in her name?

Karen: When I first joined IHRSA Julie was on the list of people that I respected and wanted to meet. Unfortunately, I never did as she was not well enough to attend the convention the year I was awarded the scholarship. Julie created a legacy for us to carry on. I feel a responsibility to make her proud and to accomplish amazing things. She has inspired me to make my own impact on this world and my community the same way she did. She was an inspiration and I truly feel blessed to have been the first recipient of this award.

Jane Clark
Program Coordinator for Sunflower Wellness at The San Francisco Bay Club
Personal Trainer and Cancer & Exercise Specialist

IHRSA: As a Cancer Exercise Trainer you honor Julie every day with the work that you do. What perspective can you provide on what Julie was able to accomplish after her cancer diagnosis, given your close work with individuals who battle this terrible disease?

Jane: I met Julie after her first diagnosis of breast cancer.  She had already created the CancerWellfit program with Paula Lilly.  Julie was empowered by her experience exercising through cancer treatment, and was passionate about encouraging others to do the same.

As one of Julie’s first students I was very fortunate to have her as a mentor while gaining experience in this field.  I met with Julie several times during this period and also attended most of her IHRSA lectures on the topic.  She was always happy to answer questions or make suggestions regardless of how busy she was.

After experiencing the value and power of regular coaching, I understand how important that is for my students and clients.  It amazes me the successes I have the opportunity of sharing by simply calling or checking in on a regular basis.  A student is more apt to adhere to an exercise program or class attendance if they know they will be missed and KNOW I will call if they are absent.  I DO call!  My students  become a family and they really enjoy seeing one another and sharing the exercise experience.  Fellow students also become coaches for new students who may have shared a similar cancer, treatment or side effect.  We have fun MOST of the time.  I use play and laughter as a big part of my work.

I think of Julie, her generosity, and passion often.  I’m proud to carry on this work in her honor, and am fulfilled to share the passion of  helping others during this challenging time.

I miss you Julie.

Linda Mitchell
Director of Marketing & PR, Newtown Athletic Club

IHRSA: What did it mean to you to be awarded the Julie Main Woman Leadership Scholarship?

Linda: There are simply no words that can truly express my gratitude for receiving the Julie Main Woman Leader Scholarship.  She was a giant in our industry and an inspiration to all of us.  I met Julie on a few occasions and she could not help but leave a lasting impression on not only me, but all of us.  To somehow walk in her shadow is the highest honor I have ever received or for that matter will receive.

Want to Learn More?

Contact Tara Verity at tv@ihrsa.org or 800-228-4772 (US & Canada) or +1 617-951-0055 ext. 111.