We came, we saw, we went away INSPIRED! FuelSYD 2024 was a roaring success, and if there’s a better place to gather inspiration than a crowd of motivated fitness businesswomen (and men) then we don’t know where it is!

With such an impressive line up, there was so much to learn (and we loved every minute of it). Covering everything from practical business advice to discussing the overall state of the fitness industry, the sessions provided something for everyone.

It was no easy task with so much to choose from, but we’ve put together a recap of all the best bits and the hottest tips from the day to help any gym owner on their journey to success.

#1 Messages of empowerment – business style!

The highlight of the day was all about empowering and celebrating women. It truly shined through during the keynote by Kayla Itsines and the panel that explored the state of the fitness business in Australia. The panel included some amazing leaders like Anne-Sophie Palmer (CEO of Bump Health & Fitness), Georgia Nides (Founder of Zoii Sydney), Michelle Furniss (GM of Xplor Gym), Elaine Jobson (CEO of Jetts Australia), and Brooke Daubney (Franchise Performance Manager at KX Pilates).

Here is some of the amazing advice we heard for business (and life in general!)

  • Be mindful to always celebrate your wins and live in the moment. It’s important to keep our goals at the forefront, but then it can be all too easy to keep moving to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. Stop for a moment to enjoy the journey.
  • Cultivate those good vibes by surrounding yourself with people that want you to succeed. Spare zero time for jealous or negative people, or those who generally make you feel 💩. This applies to all aspects of life: professionally, personally, and online (especially online where the trolls squat, waiting…)
  • Accept compliments. Full stop. No more negating, detracting, redirecting, or excuses. Many people (women especially) have been conditioned to see accepting compliments as… bragging? Being too proud? Um, excuse us? You’ve worked hard so you should be proud, you should brag! If someone has been moved enough to compliment you on anything, just say thank you.
  • Be yourself, unapologetically, in all your glorious incarnations. This is your best business tool. And as you learn and grow and change, don’t be afraid to rebrand yourself and your business. You are under no obligation to be the person you were yesterday. It’s your journey and you can change who you are whenever you want to.
  • Set your values and stick to them, no matter what’s grabbing attention over there. Whether it’s personal or brand values, as the face of your business you need to show integrity and practise what you preach. For example, if you value being an inspiration to younger generations you should avoid the ‘sex sells’ approach.
  • Mentors are gold. You should have one (or more). A mentor is an experienced and trusted person who gives another person advice and help. This means that mentors can be any age or gender and working in any role or industry. For example, a young mentor may be successfully navigating trends and the speed of change.

What’s important is that you have a connection with them and feel safe to be completely honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly, your dreams, fears and challenges, without fear of judgement.


Set your own non-negotiables

The world around you is a constant whirlpool and it can be easy to get sucked into it (where it can feel like you spin for hours until being spat out with nothing crossed off your to-do list.)

Be intentional and plan for yourself. Set your non-negotiables and strictly adhere to them for your own sanity and productivity. Going for a run at 7am, dinner with the kids from 5-6pm, journaling for 20 mins each morning, moving for at least 30 mins a day. Whatever is important to you.

Liz Nable’s Fireside chat with Kayla Itsines. Image: Fuel Women’s Business Summit | @candice_epthorp_creates
The panel included some amazing leaders like Anne-Sophie Palmer (CEO of Bump Health & Fitness), Georgia Nides (Founder of Zoii Sydney), Michelle Furniss (GM of Xplor Gym), Elaine Jobson (CEO of Jetts Australia), and Brooke Daubney (Franchise Performance Manager at KX Pilates).
The women of the panel: Elaine Jobson (CEO of Jetts Australia), Anne-Sophie Palmer (CEO of Bump Health & Fitness), Georgia Nides (Founder of Zoii Sydney), Brooke Daubney (Performance Manager at KX Pilates), Michelle Furniss (GM of Xplor Gym) and Emcee Nardia Norman
Image: Fuel Women’s Business Summit | @candice_epthorp_creates

#2 Keeping the ageing population fit and healthy

We’ve been hearing for a long time that Australia has an ageing population. By 2026 more than 22% of Australians will be aged over 65. As strength and movement coach Nikki Rubino discussed in the session Redefining Ageing: Empowering Seniors with Sass, this is an area that gyms can focus on to not only increase their customer base and revenue, but to also ensure our older generations are living their best lives. Win win!

It’s all about mobility, which is being able to sit comfortably no matter the type of chair; or being able to catch up with friends and family or run errands without accessibility issues; or simply being able to get up if you fall over. Many older people adapt their lives to their decreasing mobility, not realising they can work on improving their mobility. That old adage is right: if you don’t use it, you lose it!

As the ageing population is increasing, gyms and fitness providers have plenty of opportunities to service this market and expand their customer base. Australia contains over 15,300 suburbs (yikes). Now, not every suburb is going to contain (or require) a gym, BUT imagine the impact if just one gym from every viable suburb offered a senior’s mobility service. What a game-changer!


Make mobility magic

Find ways to incorporate senior mobility offerings in your area. Ideas include running seniors classes, employing a seniors-focused PT, or offering a mobile PT service. Loneliness is rife amongst the ageing community so a mobile service fills a social, community need as well.

Why not conduct a survey and ask the seniors in your area what they would benefit from (and actually use!)

Image: Fuel Women’s Business Summit | @candice_epthorp_creates

#3 Become your own PR pro

Now this was a standout session for business owners! Master the Media 101: Grow your fitness business leveraging the media and free PR by Liz Nable, provided a wealth of practical advice to get your business out there – without paying a cent!

In a nutshell, Liz explained how media coverage is a powerful marketing tool that can have a much greater impact on your reputation than an advertisement. And did we mention it’s free??

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • By cleverly utilising the media resources available, you get free promotion of your gym.
  • Crafting a compelling brand story cultivates trust. Your members, prospects, and the media will get to know, rely on, and like you and your business.
  • Even if you’re a franchise owner you’re required to market to your local community (a 5-10km area). You can provide a ‘face’ for your business and build rapport and connection with the community. By leveraging the power of strength in numbers you can springboard off other franchisees’ media exposure.
  • Take note of the publications in your area and research local journalists to pitch to directly (ideally those that mesh well with your business, goals, or values.)  These journalists are always searching for content and you can provide great material that suits their audience. They get content, you get exposure.
  • Try to pitch topics of interest to your target audience, especially for key dates of the year. For example: Top 5 Exercises for the Holiday Season; International Women’s Day: What’s On and Workout Tips; Have your Easter Eggs and Exercise too.
  •  Go for the low fruit, the stuff that hooks people immediately. Heartwarming local stories, underdog tales of success, predictions of the future, a personal opinion piece or an account of your own deeply personal experience with something.
  • Use data, hard facts or surveys – audiences love this stuff and it makes your content more credible.
  • If a piece written by someone else caught your attention, why not provide your own take on it? Or pick up a debate or topic that’s hot and connect your business to it. However, avoid being controversial for the sake of it – you need to be ready to back up whatever you say.
  • You can repurpose any content to combine your media coverage with your marketing.
  • Play the PR long game. By consistently sending journalists content you are steadily building a reputation as an industry expert who is willing to share knowledge and advice. This has several advantages:

1. You can leverage this to grow your business and become the media’s go-to expert.

2. Even if they don’t use the content you send them you are building that reputation with them (playing the long game).

3. You’ll have plenty of content ready to chop up and edit for your own website and social media.

“Media positions you or your business in a favourable light by showcasing your credibility, expertise, passion, and the image you want to portray through an independent, respected source.”

Liz Nable, FuelSYD 2024


Build your brand story: the basics

Liz had some great tips for getting started on your own brand story. She suggests taking time to write down basic facts about you and your business such as:

  • challenges overcome
  • your starting out/business idea story
  • your motivations, background and unique skills
  • your vision and what you want to be known for
  • what you love about your business.

From this, make note of any potential emotive or connection opportunities. What will drw people to you and your business? What makes you stand out? This is the foundation upon which you can build your brand story.

🏆 And Fuel’s Woman of the Year award goes to…

Mish Wright from Women’s Fitness Education! Congratulations, Mish, on this much-deserved honour!

“The Fuel Woman of the Year award seeks to celebrate and honour the trailblazing women who are reshaping the landscape of the fitness industry with passion, innovation, and a touch of fearlessness.”

This will come as no surprise to those in industry, as shown by some of the testimonials from Mish’s nominations:

The wrap up…

Wow, wow, wow! So much to process and put into action. There’s something for every gym owner to apply to their own business, or just life in general!

 We can’t wait to attend the next Fuel Summit in 2025, there’s sure to be a stellar line-up of amazing, inspiring women. Thanks a million to Fuel co-founders Deb Goldberg and Alisha Smith, and every single person who organised and pulled off such an incredible event.

Be sure to check out their socials and keep an eye on the Fuel Summit website for updates about next year’s event.

Trust us – you don’t want to miss it!

Fuel Women's Business Sumit
Deborah Goldberg & Michelle Furniss Image: Fuel Women’s Business Summit | @candice_epthorp_creates

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 09 May 2024

Last updated: 09 May 2024