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Women at Work: Wendy Brookman

Molly McLaughlin

When life gets busy, personal fitness is often the first thing to suffer.

For Wendy Brookman, the owner of Fernwood Canberra City, women’s fitness is about women putting themselves first. As a mum of five and small business owner, she knows a thing or two about juggling priorities.

Wendy’s fitness background is in track and field, which she competed successfully in at school. After an injury forced her to rethink her career options, Wendy became interested in helping other women discover the benefits of exercise.

“I needed surgery just after representing the ACT at the Pan Pacific Games,” she says, “I hit what you could call a depression and I didn’t know what I was going to do. When I came back to Canberra after having a bit of a break, I knew that I hadn’t finished with the fitness industry and I definitely wanted to work with females.”

Wendy in the club Fernwood

Wendy inside Fernwood Canberra City

Wendy started working for Fernwood as a membership consultant in 2000, progressing to fitness training and management. By 2009, she knew she wanted to have her own franchise. With support from Indigenous Business Australia, a program that assists Indigenous Australians in achieving economic independence, Wendy was able to purchase Fernwood Canberra City.

“I was lucky enough to be in an organisation that I loved and 100% believed in,” says Wendy. “From then on, my biggest goal was to turn it into a club that was recognised for weights training for women. We base things on customer service, because there’s not too many people that genuinely like working out but if they know they’re going to be greeted with a smile that makes it a little bit easier.”

Wendy and her partner Al

Wendy and her husband Alan

After more than 15 years in the industry, Wendy has seen the development of women’s fitness from a small niche to the integral part of our lives it is today.

“It was almost a taboo for women to do the type of training that we should be doing,” she says. “There was so much misinformation about weights and women so that’s where I got the passion to change what people thought about the fitness industry and females. That idea that men do weights and women do cardio, if you want to get skinny do cardio, is completely wrong.”

Wendy often starts her day by running a boot camp or completing a session for herself, and then she spends her time on the day-to-day management of the gym and talking to customers about their progress. She and her husband Alan work as a team to keep up with their kids, four girls and one boy, but for Wendy her busy life is absolutely worth it.

Wendy at Fernwood Fitness having raised over

“Being a mum, you’ve got to be a role model,” she says. “My goal is to never think ‘God, I’ve got to go to work,’ and in this organisation I don’t have days like that. My kids see us active and see that it’s normal to be up early and work hard. They know that I’m busy but I’ll never miss anything important. They understand that they always come first but my job is impacting other peoples’ lives.”

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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