Written by Tom Clarke • Published 5th March 2020 • 4 minute read

For over 110 years, the 8th of March has been celebrated as International Women’s Day, a focal point in the movement for women’s rights.

Throughout the last decade, great strides have been made to make equality more prominent across a plethora of industries, with sport being no different.

During the summer of 2019, women’s sport featured in 46% of the top ten stories on the BBC Sport homepage, which when you consider it was a summer where the England men’s cricket team won the World Cup for the first time, and competed at home for the Ashes series shows progress has been made.

But whilst progress has been made, it needs to be continued, with that in mind we wanted to celebrate five female leaders in sport.

Dame Jessica Ennis, Olympic gold medallist & Founder of Jennis

One of Team GB’s most decorated athletes of all time. In the run up to London 2012, Dame Jess Ennis was one of pinup stars of the Games. The pressure to deliver gold in the heptathlon was immense, cue Super Saturday and we all know what happened there…

Since retiring in October 2016, Ennis has played a pivotal role in launching the fitness app fittingly named ‘JENNIS’, which aims to help users to exercise smarter, not longer.

Drawing on her own experience of going from an elite athlete to busy mum, Dame Jess needed super-smart workouts that would give the same results but with limited time available.

The app’s three target markets are general fitness, postnatal and pregnancy, with new circuits added every month.

Sophie Lawler, CEO of Total Fitness

Soon to be celebrating their 30th birthday, Total Fitness is a fitness powerhouse, with 17 health clubs scattered across the North of England and Wales.

As part of a sustainable and balanced workout program, Total Fitness encourage their users to follow a 360 approach to training to make sure that they are training the entire body. Total Fitness are also one of the only gyms in the UK to offer a ‘Ladies only gym’ which allows women more privacy whilst exercising.

When Sophie was appointed CEO of Total Fitness in June 2018, she became the first female CEO in the UK’s commercial sector, as well as being one of the youngest. So far, she has helped to reverse a steady decline in membership across the entire brand.

Worth mentioning that Total Fitness follow a 50/50 gender pay split too.

Grace Beverley, Founder & CEO of Shreddy and TALA

2019 was a big year for Grace Beverley. If being an Oxford University graduate wasn’t impressive enough, Grace also picked up NatWest GBEA London’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award too.

After selling 200,000 copies of her PDF workout guides and with an ever-growing social following, Grace decided to combine the two and create Shreddy. The fitness app filled with workouts, recipes and people trying to improve themselves.

Alongside Shreddy, the 22-year-old has managed to find the time to start another sporting venture which is TALA, an activewear brand. Which includes items such as sports bras and leggings made from 92% reused materials, including plastic bottles and factory offcuts.

I’m not sure what Grace has for breakfast, but I want some.

Jess Schuring, Managing Director of Heartcore

Founded over 10 years ago, Heartcore has become the UK’s leading boutique fitness class provider. Their highly effective 55-minute classes include dynamic Pilates, high-intensity TRX and Barre all delivering optimal results that sculpt your physique in ways traditional exercise simply can’t.

Ever since its inception Founder and Managing Director, Jess Schuring has believed in a well-rounded approach of positivity and wellbeing at all ten of the studios situated in London.

Carolyn Radford, CEO of Mansfield Football Club

Appointed CEO of Manfield Town at the age of 29 in 2011, Radford is coming up to almost a decade in charge of ‘The Stags’.  Since taking up her position, the club brought an end to five consecutive seasons in non-league football, after being promoted to League Two as champions in the 2012-13 season.

They have finished in the top half of League Two in four of the last five seasons, and Carolyn has spoken of her ambitions to take them to the Championship.

The club is being well run off the football pitch as well as on it. Prior to the Radford takeover, there was no established training centre and no youth team setup. This has now changed, and an academy has been created.

Radford continues to be an inspirational figure for women in a typically male-dominated industry, not least thanks to her insistence on the reformation of Mansfield Town Ladies. Once disbanded under the previous owner, the club now fields ten regular women’s teams.

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