FiA: Females in Action

Strength in body, mind, and heart

This group goes beyond fitness— community events and outings are part of the program.

By Kimberly Feldkamp

When the world is still dark and most of us are sleeping, there’s a group of Toledo women already up and at ‘em, exercising in the parking lot at local schools, libraries or parks. 

They are members of the Females in Action— or FiA— Group, a community of women dedicated to making each other stronger in all areas of life. 

Bring a mat or towel, water bottle and a winning attitude. FiA workouts happen at locations throughout the area.

Bringing the action to Ohio 

The local Toledo chapters are part of a larger, national program. Currently, FiA is in 21 states across the country, and growing. 

F3, the men’s version of FiA, found its way to Toledo first. 

“There were many wives of these men that saw what the group was doing for their husbands, and they wanted something similar,” explained member Ashley Helton. “We saw our husbands getting healthier not only physically, but mentally.  We saw them giving back to our community, we saw them organize social events, and we saw friendships developing that would never have happened without the group. We saw this and we wanted it, too.”

Thankfully, FiA Nation, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, was excited to start a chapter in Sylvania, the first FiA in Ohio. 

 “After a few months of proving a need for this group in Sylvania, we were given the official go-ahead,” said Helton. “Four years ago, we launched, and on that day, we had 60 women show up. We have been successful ever since!”

Up and at ‘em early – the FiA North Group poses post-workout.

In fact, the response was so great that organizers saw a need to create two groups in the area: Toledo North (Toledo and Sylvania) and Southside (Perrysburg, Maumee / Bowling Green). Leaders, however, weren’t surprised because they said this is what women are looking for in their lives. 

“Women want to be healthy, get exercise and be around like-minded women. They want to give back to our community, and develop genuine friendships that are not made through our children’s school or sports,” said Helton. “FiA provides all of this and more, and the women that come have found this to be true.”

FiA for all 

Amber Ferrell, a local mom of three, has been attending FiA workouts for three years. 

“A friend asked me to come along and I was hooked right away,” Ferrell said. “The ladies are so welcoming and you feel so accomplished after the  workouts. This is the most consistent I’ve ever been with working out”

FiA is open to ALL women; no prior fitness experience is required. The program follows five core principles:

  1. It’s always held outside, in rain or shine, hot or cold. 
  2. It’s always free. No exceptions.
  3. It’s peer-led. 
  4. It’s you against you.
  5. It offers a consistent and scheduled workout. 

Any woman can show up and participate at any level of fitness. We pride ourselves in making workouts ‘you against you’ and always encourage (and demonstrate) modifications for various fitness levels,” said Janet Moore, a past regional leader of the Toledo North group. “Our group is supportive of meeting women where they are at. We also do philanthropy and social events, branching out from just fitness into fellowship and fun!”

You also don’t need any equipment for the workouts, beyond hand weights and a mat or towel. 

Although the workouts start bright and early (5:30am is the weekday start time), they wrap by around 6:15am each time, so you can get in a good sweat without a huge time commitment. 

Workouts end in a circle of trust, so each woman leaves with an inspirational thought or prayer. The group, however, is nondenominational, and welcomes those of anyor no religious beliefs. 

There is also a private Facebook group, as well as Instagram and Twitter pages for members to follow for an even deeper sense of connection and community. 

Workouts promised rain or shine, hot or cold!

More than just fitness

But FiA is more than just about building muscle; it’s about building community and getting stronger in all areas of life. Women encourage each other, forge friendships, participate in book clubs and social events.

As women get busy with kids and careers, it can be hard to find time for themselves. Sometimes they may even feel lonely, craving female connection but unsure of where to find it. Sometimes, women may feel forced to choose between taking time to socialize with friends or taking time to hit the gym. FiA combines both. 

 “FiA is so much more than a workout,” Ferrell said. “It gives you accountability, a sense of accomplishment, leadership and friends. We lift each other up and encourage each other!”

“One of the best things about having FiA in my life personally is the relationships, for sure,” said Moore. “ We are so much more than a workout and have done so many things together to further ourselves individually, as a group, and help the community.”

Interested in giving FiA a try? You can find information, including workout schedules and ways to contact the local organizers, at fiatoledo.wordpress.com.