Issue No. 257: Changing the Game

Baking up bread with benefits — like fiber, protein, and zero net carbs.

The rise of women’s sports has unlocked new frontiers for fitness brands.
Going Pro
Women’s pro leagues are growing twice as fast as general sports.

NCAA March Madness viewership jumped 43% YoY, while the WNBA is up 67%.
The value of women’s soccer teams 10x’d from $5M in ’20 to $66M this year.
71% of execs predict double-digit revenue growth for the next 3–5 years.

Adding fuel, celebrity-backed ventures like Natalie Portman’s Angel City FC and League One Volleyball are capturing young, socially conscious, hyper-engaged fans — 50% of whom will support brand sponsors.
Off the Bench
Feeling inspired, more women are suiting up.

Women comprise 44% of NCAA athletes, and 60% of girls play high school sports.
US weightlifting is “technically a women’s sport” with >50% female members.
Per the IHRSA, the majority of gym memberships belong to women.

The societal benefits of rising participation are far-reaching. Girls in sports develop lasting exercise habits, fewer health problems, and make up 94% of female C-suite execs. But, lack of opportunity, pay discrepancies, and sexist practices continue to limit their potential.
Striving for inclusion, Zwift sponsored Tour de France Femme, Strava announced a $1M initiative, and the NCL launched a gender-equal league. Joining in, lululemon, PUMA, and others have pledged support for female athletes while ramping up women’s R&D.
Timeout. Another obstacle, just 8% of published studies focused on female physiology. Lacking sex-specific research, girls are left guessing what degree of movement benefits their bodies, causing many to bow out.

Half of girls quit sports during puberty.
42% of 12–14-year-olds avoid exercising on their period.
Nearly 50% of 1K surveyed athletes missed training due to menstruation symptoms.

Plus, women are at higher risk of health complications and injury, with amenorrhea affecting 69% and ACL tears impacting women 8x more than men in some sports.
Gearing Up
Stepping in, companies are designing tech to keep women in the game.
Cycle syncing. Demystifying female physiology, wearable makers WHOOP, Oura, Apple, and Samsung introduced cycle tracking insights. A step further, apps like Orreco’s FitrWoman and Wild.AI translate menstruation-related data into tailored training plans.
Maternal fitness. Nike Training Club launched a 48-week doctor-approved pregnancy program last year, adding to maternal courses offered by Every Mother and obé. And, women’s fitness franchise FIT4MOM launched a pre/postnatal training certification this month.
Tailored gear. Acknowledging biomechanical differences, Ida developed cleats to reduce risk of ACL tears. Meanwhile, Australia’s Zena Sport makes protective garments for contact sports, and Oya designed leggings to prevent vaginal infections.
Following suit, apparel giants Nike, adidas, and Under Armour debuted leak-proof fabrics, bespoke sports bras, and female-specific shoes during the World Cup — signaling more innovation to come.
Punchline: Historically, girls have dropped out of sports due to lack of comfort, confidence, and cultural support. Rising women’s leagues are shifting sentiment, but closing the gender gap for good requires buy-in from brands, media, and science.

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