Founder and Managing Director

As more women step into leadership roles, we can expect continued innovation and a positive change in our industry.  Women are no longer just participating; we are leading the way.

shape-Light-Blue.pngThe Ripple Effect of
Strong Women in Business

Female entrepreneurs have been making significant strides in the health and fitness industry, bringing fresh perspectives, innovative ideas and a keen understanding of consumer needs.

Women often recognise a gap in the market and are not afraid to think outside the box we create products that resonate with women’s unique requirements. As more women take on leadership roles in health and fitness companies, they become role models for others to follow. Representation matters and seeing successful women in these positions inspires others to follow suit.

Since I started Fernwood 35 years ago, I have seen a gradual rise in the number of female leaders in our industry.  The more there are, the more role models we have. 

Fernwood Fitness has now blossomed and rippled across Australia, igniting a movement. Female franchise owners stepped forward, each a beacon of empowerment. They all have their own stories, their own challenges and their own strength.  In many of them, there was also undiscovered strength that they never knew they had until they started a business and took on the challenges that come with that. Many of them have become businesswomen through default as their husbands wanted a good strong business with a strong return on investment, but as men cannot work directly in women only gyms, their wives took on the role of managing the day to day operations and in doing so, they discovered skills they never thought that they had. Through them we have been able to empower and enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian women. Women from all walks of life who have been able to experience the same pleasure as I have: coming to work in an environment where we are thanked and appreciated for creating this environment for them.

These women are strong, intelligent, commercially savvy businesswomen and I applaud them for embarking on their own Fernwood journey. In turn, they’ve become role models to other women and young girls around the country, showing them that if they follow their dreams, anything is possible: the only thing standing in their way is themselves.

Through the strength of Franchising, we’ve been able to ignite the flame in so many women who, without Fernwood, may not have gone down the path of being businesswomen. It makes me proud to see them displaying their business acumen to new incoming Franchisees, who are just starting to embark on their journey. One of the greatest things about women in business, is that we are willing to share and to mentor others, helping them on their own journey into the business world.

When women see other women breaking barriers and thriving in the industry, it encourages them to pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams. Women understand women. Female entrepreneurs can tap into their first-hand experiences and insights to create products and service that cater specifically for women’s health and fitness needs.

Whether it’s wellness apps, active wear or fitness programs women-led businesses can tailor their offerings to address the unique challenges and preferences of women. As women we often take a holistic approach to health and wellness. We recognise that physical fitness is just one aspect of overall wellbeing.  We are driving the trend toward integrated wellness solutions that combine nutrition, mental health and self-care.

Historically, the health and fitness industry has been male dominated. However, as women, we are challenging these stereotypes and proving that we can lead and succeed.

As more women step into leadership roles, we can expect continued innovation and a positive change in our industry.  Women are no longer just participating; we are leading the way.

About Diana Williams

In 1989, Diana Williams changed the landscape of health and fitness for Australian women forever. Recognising a lack of spaces for women to comfortably exercise with confidence, Diana opened a makeshift gym in an abandoned school classroom in Bendigo and Fernwood Fitness was born. From one small club, Diana grew Fernwood into the powerhouse it is today, now featuring 70+ clubs nationwide, and earning numerous awards over the years including the AUSactive 2022 Franchise Group of the Year Award. Every Fernwood club is purpose-built for balance, ensuring women can feel empowered in all aspects of their health, fitness and wellness journeys. In nurturing the gym for women concept, Diana has made an undeniable mark on the Australian fitness industry.

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Content & Community Manager