BLOG IMAGE Yvonne Shepherd

Yvonne Shepherd, Founder & CEO, Women’s Fitness Adventures

Yvonne Shepherd Founder and CEO of Women’s Fitness Adventures started her business to help women over 40 years of age to stay active and connect with one another. With the knowledge that women are usually blending work with caring for others in their lives, and that self care and personal fitness is often last on their ‘to do’ list, she encourages women to prioritise themselves.

Yvonne has built a supportive community of women of all ages, who come together for fitness, fun and friendship through online and in person outdoor fitness adventures, in Australia and globally. She firmly believes that the stronger and fitter a woman is, the greater the beneficial ripple effect through her family and community is, of increased physical activity and engagement with nature.

Where do women usually start in Women’s Fitness Adventures?

It actually starts way back on Social Media and with our weekly newsletter. Many women tell us they “watch” the website and Facebook page, devour our weekly emails and hover over the “join” button for up to 6 months. The incentive to finally press the button to be involved was the thought of, “if not now, then when?”. 

The journey with Women’s Fitness Adventures is different for every woman. Some jump straight in, booking into everything and others ease into it. Our members are from across all of Australia, so for some it is our Online Active adventures that are the attraction – meaning you can be involved wherever you live.

Given approximately 45% of our members identify as being at the “introductory fitness level”, we encourage them to participate firstly in the Online Active adventures. This includes active walks wherever you live (or holiday) via Zoom, on demand functional fitness videos, and of course, our online social of book club, interviews and masterclasses. These allow for  social interaction as well as the fitness component. Meaning you can get fit and social at the same time!

What impact do your programs have on their well-being?

One of the most rewarding benefits of being involved with Women’s Fitness Adventures is the impact it has on a woman’s quality of life measures. Yes, most definitely our programs increase a woman’s overall fitness levels from whatever her starting point. Because of the way our programs are structured, they also increase our functional fitness – that is the freedom of movement with our body and activity levels. Our members can easily get up and down off the ground, bend, stretch, step up high and reach down low with ease.

The impact on other life measures such as friendship is enormous. In fact, when we surveyed members, and asked them what impact being involved had on their lives, “making new friendships” ranked as high as “increasing my fitness level”. In addition, greater fitness boosts self confidence and self esteem. Members also say that being involved has encouraged them to try things they would not otherwise have considered, and to have the confidence to go places they may never have thought to go.

Many  have commented that it changed their lives.

What are the most adventurous and challenging adventures people can experience?

Great question and that depends. We all have our threshold for what we consider adventurous and what we consider challenging. For some, the biggest challenge in 2020 was learning Zoom technology so they could connect with our Online Active adventures via Zoom. For others, it is perhaps a 10km walk. And of course, simply showing up in person to a group of strangers is challenging. But that is all soon forgotten once you step in and meet the other members.

One of our signature adventures, which is also a physical challenge, is our Mt Barney Summit Hike, which is now in its 8th year! (wow). We make a full weekend of it. It’s one of South East Queensland’s highest peaks and such an achievement. 

As our ladies have become fitter, we’ve introduced a new range of challenging adventures. There’s our fabulous week in FNQ with our Port Douglas Tropical Fitness Adventure – think challenging by day and luxury by night. Our Green Gully hike in NSW – remote, exclusive and physically demanding with a full pack. And for 2021 we are doing a once-off Winter, Overland Track hike in Tasmania – full pack, camping, snow shoes.

How has your in-depth and extensive knowledge of women’s bodies and their approach to fitness adventures enabled you to launch an online offering for any woman, anywhere in the world?

I’ve been working in the Women’s Health and Fitness space for almost 15 years. And ALL of this has been with women over 40 and our sweet spot is women 53-67.

As women, we juggle so many things. It’s our role to nurture. We seem to own guilt. Regardless of our age, women tend to underestimate what they are physically capable of and we can let our past injuries or illnesses define us.

At Women’s Fitness Adventures our focus towards women’s fitness, particularly women over 50, has been about the functional movement – why we need strong glutes (bottom), legs, core and arms. And we give women the “how to” so that everyday they can do the “life things” with ease. 

We do this through our innovative Online Active programs that are live via Zoom. You simply dial in wherever you live. There’s three sessions a week at different times and each is structured in such a way to focus on women’s fitness. For example Tuesday Tone Up is an hour of walking that focuses on toning legs and our powerhouse muscle, the glute. Thursday is a live stream Functional Fitness class combining walking and low impact, pelvic floor safe functional moves. Some ladies do this in the suburbs and others do it from home.

Additionally we have a series of  “on demand” Functional Fitness videos. All are again low impact and pelvic floor safe. Not only do we demonstrate the exercise, we also explain the why behind them – which is the point of any movement..

Yes, we all want to look and feel great. Maybe lose a few kilos here and there. But the reality is that you never really know if you get there. As our fitness programs are tied to tangible goals, such as a hike or an adventure, when the focus turns to this, the other elements all fall into place.

We see and hear success stories all the time of how women have improved their physical strength which enables them to easily do everyday life tasks and of course, step into the adventure of their choice, knowing they will be successful.

Your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge has been navigating through 2020 and the impact it had on the business. There are many things 2020 took away (such as revenue, customers, future plans) but it gave back a lot too.

Something we had been pondering for a long time was how to keep up with demand – our programs and adventures are highly sought after. The other was how did we satisfy demand from all over the country – we had women from around Australia who wanted to be part of the Women’s Fitness Adventures community.

2020 gave us the time to bring forward the plans we had in the background to move to an online membership. And this was to offer our membership as primarily an online offering – going deep with our Online Active adventures, Online Hike Fitness Training, Masterclasses and Resources, Tales for the Trails – our interviews around fitness, adventure and social stories and of course, our Online BookClub.

We were also able to focus on our hybrid program, Couch to Mountain, bridging online training with an in person adventure. 

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Founder

Mother, wife, daughter, determined dreamer. Lover of books. Background in Human Resources leadership in global organisations.