Latest News

Back to Latest News back


International survey shows male dominance in fitness management

International survey shows male dominance in fitness management
July 25, 2022

An international survey of fitness industry managers and business owners has revealed significant male dominance with 70% of men surveyed being self-employed gym owners by comparison with 29% of women.

The global online survey, conducted by German-based software company Sport Alliance and the Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) showed a large percentage difference between women and men in leadership roles, with 47% of men employed by companies in the fitness industry being in a leadership role while for women, that number is 11% less.

Conducted between September 2021 and March 2022, the survey involved 679 people working in the fitness industry (primarily in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and United Kingdom).

Acknowledging that the data is indicative rather than being fully representative of the industry, Maike Kumstel, International Business Developer at Sport Alliance feels the results provide interesting insights into the structures of the industry.

Kumstel noted "these data show the trend that men are more likely to be in leadership roles in businesses than women.

“Among the self-employed, most women are trainers rather than running their own businesses."

The survey found major obstacles impeding women in reaching their career goals, with respondents  citing feeling underestimated and not respected and having low chances of getting promoted. Women also highlighted the fact that it is hard to combine family and work as a major obstacle.

For women who are in leadership positions, 27% say their path to becoming a leader was more difficult because of their gender. By contrast, among men, only 7% cite this as a reason.

Female leaders feel that gender imbalance in the workplace results in lower opportunities for promotion, gender discrimination and lower salaries for women.

Artur Jagiello, Head of Marketing & Communications at Sport Alliance, noted "as non-executives, men and women face similar obstacles in their career paths. But as you climb the career ladder, the gender gap becomes more pronounced, resulting in disadvantages for women. Being a boss in 2022 is unfortunately still a male domain.”

Men have different perceptions
When asked about gender bias in their company, 82% of men responded that there was none, while for women, the figure is 64%.

In addition, 19% of women said they could not say for sure if there was a gender bias (for men, it was 7%).

Regarding whether an even gender distribution in leadership positions in their workplace is important to them, 59% of women responded that it is. By comparison, only 35% of men held the same opinion.

Jagiello added "we want to bring attention to this issue.

"Only when there is awareness of the current situation, something can be changed. Some companies have already initiated strategies and actions to address the issue, knowing that something needs to be done to improve equality in the fitness industry. However, as in many other industries, there is still a long way to go."

About the author

Karen Sweaney

Co-founder and Editor, Australasian Leisure Management

Artist, geoscientist and specialist writer on the leisure industry, Karen Sweaney is Editor and co-founder of Australasian Leisure Management.

Based in Sydney, Australia, her specific areas of interest include the arts, entertainment, the environment, fitness, tourism and wellness.

She has degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and Geological Oceanography from UNSW.

Read more from this author

Related Articles

22nd July 2022 - Western Australian sport industry report shows rise in women’s employment and board roles

10th June 2022 - Core programme launched for hybrid 8th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport

1st June 2022 - WIFA names Meghan Jarvis as new Global Ambassador for Australia

3rd May 2022 - Man in country Victoria charged with stalking women after early-morning gym visits

14th April 2022 - Federal Government’s Job Outlook anticipates ongoing rise in fitness jobs

8th April 2022 - Curves spotlights its commitment to Gen-X Women

4th April 2022 - Free webinar to cover potential for fitness careers

16th March 2022 - Fuel Women’s Fitness Business Summit set for April return

8th March 2022 - Gold’s Gym spotlights women breaking barriers in fitness

2nd March 2022 - WIFA celebrates International Women’s Day with global advocacy campaign for women in fitness

28th February 2022 - WIFA and Sport Alliance invite input to global survey on gender diversity and equity in the fitness industry

2nd February 2022 - Fernwood Fitness launches holistic ‘Fernwood Fusion’ studio

15th November 2021 - survey reports on the pervasiveness of harassment against women at the gym

23rd September 2021 - Inaugural Global Women’s Health Index ranks Australia ninth out of 116 countries surveyed

7th September 2021 - ESSA marks Women’s Health Week by encouraging women to exercise for the right reasons

25th June 2021 - Global survey finds that more than 50% of women harassed while training at the gym

8th March 2021 - ESSA celebrates female leaders in the exercise and sports science industry

21st May 2020 - Women’s Ignite Fitness Business event ready to be held online

7th March 2020 - ExerciseNZ to celebrate role of women in fitness on International Women’s Day

17th August 2016 - Olympians look to build fitness businesses after athletics careers

Support our industry news service
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

As an independent publisher, we need reader support for our industry news gathering so ask that - if you don't already do so - you back us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine and/or our online news.

Click here to view our subscription options.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Switch to smarter fitness management software with Clubworx based in Australia that enables fitness businesses to start or grow their business with ease. - all in one place from anywhere in the…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Technology / Wellness



Stadiums and venues around the world recognise that success hinges on more than just what happens on the pitch. More than ever, fan engagement within each facility is a critical part of the overall…

read more

Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Venues


The Pool Enclosure Company

Now TPEC Pool Enclosures - see

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation / Venues



Swimplex Aquatics are a world-class company dedicated to the commercial pool, waterslide industry. We are Australian market leaders servicing all states Australia wide. Swimplex provide a full…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Design / Play / Waterparks


Goplay Commercial Playground Equipment

Goplay designs and manufactures specialised playground equipment for indoor play centres, hotels, food chains, clubs and resorts. If our years of experience and dedication have taught us one thing,…

read more



Ticketworx Pty Ltd

Ticketworx (formerly House of Tickets) is Australia and New Zealand’s foremost ticket specialist servicing some 2,700 clients and producing in excess of 30 million per tickets per annum.…

read more

Entertainment / Events / Technology / Ticketing / Venues



Welcome to AAC – makers of the world’s best wristbands, lanyards, tickets, tokens and full-service print solutions. We are Australia’s premier global manufacturer and supplier of…

read more

Access / Marketing / Safety / Ticketing



PathMinder Pty Ltd have partnered with AllUser Industries srl to bring Europe’s most advanced high security portals to the Australian and New Zealand markets. AllUser Industries started to…

read more

Access / Fitness / Recreation / Security


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business