This story first appeared on Asia Rugby News
Asia Rugby Executive Committee Member and Philippine Rugby President Ada Milby could be the first woman to win a seat.
Philippine Rugby President Ada Milby is so used to blazing trails, she’s built her career on it. In high school, she was the first female to join the men’s American football team. In 2017, she became World Rugby Council’s first female member.
Now, she’s vying to be the first woman elected to the Executive Committee. If elected, she would open doors for more inclusion and bring the Executive Committee’s 10% female representation closer to its target of 40%.
She would also bring a voice and perspective from emerging markets that will connect with new and young audiences, so critical for the game’s ongoing success.
Asia Rugby today is officially announcing Milby’s candidacy. She brings with her two decades of Rugby experience --nearly half of which she has spent in governance.
As Asia Rugby’s Women’s Advisory Committee Chair, Milby champions initiatives for equitable competition pathways. Seen as a role model for her outstanding career in rugby management, she has overseen doubling the number of women on Asia Rugby’s Exco and achieving female representation across all Asia Rugby committees.
From captaining the national 15’s and 7’s teams, to building grassroots rugby as a Development Officer, Milby experienced first-hand how the hosting of world class events like RWC 2019 Japan can drive new innovations in emerging markets like Asia.
Success in her campaign could further inspire an inclusive, diverse, future-ready rugby for all.
World Rugby has aspirations to be a global leader for best practice in governance standards. “There is real strategic value in having diverse thought at the highest level to ensure rugby is the sport of choice for everyone” says Milby of the opportunity.
“The impacts of COVID on the current environment coupled with pre-existing challenges to sport such as digital and technological disruptions, highlight the need to increase participation through innovative solutions and develop strong competitions in emerging markets for the long-term sustainability of the Game”.
For our Rugby community, Fitness First will continue to play an important impact and positive role on our National Athletes during and post-pandemic.
The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic continues to pose numerous challenges and restrictions on society, and governments all around the world have taken various steps in order to mitigate the risks of the virus spreading within the community. Nonetheless, a survey of almost 4,000 fitness-loving respondents across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand say that Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions haven’t stopped them from getting their fitness fix. They’ve been keeping up with their fitness through a hybrid approach – virtual classes and online programming when they can’t get to the gym, and at the gym when they can.
Hybrid fitness is here to stay
Commenting on the overall survey findings, Simon Flint, Chief Executive Officer, Evolution Wellness Group said, “We’re pleased with the results of the survey which show us that despite the disruptive nature of the various lockdowns and restrictions across the region specifically with regard to gyms and fitness facilities, 90% of respondents continued to find ways to stay committed to their fitness regime. 65% said they participated in online fitness programmes such as our live classes and on- demand workouts and would continue to do so post-Covid. This clearly shows that a certain demand for hybrid fitness offerings is here to stay, and fitness providers will need to think about catering to this demand as well as being able to provide quality content.”
Consumers still prefer in-gym workouts for the experience and social connection
While frequency of exercise suffered a slight dip compared to pre-lockdown restrictions, 39% of respondents say that they are still exercising between three to four times a week. Nonetheless, they report feeling less satisfied with the experience of working out at home due to the lack of the right fitness equipment (51%), lack of motivation (48%), and lack of a motivating environment (40%). Just 50% of respondents report feeling highly satisfied with their workouts at home, compared to 83% of gym-goers pre-Covid. They’ve also been forced to shift from having very specific fitness goals and motivating routines such as losing weight and gaining strength, to just aiming for overall wellbeing during this time and ‘getting some form of exercise’.
All things considered, 60% of respondents say they can’t wait to get back to working out in the gym and will do so as soon as conditions permit. A number of studies globally as well as from Evolution Wellness’s own data suggest that gyms can be safe spaces to exercise provided staff and members alike adhere to the prescribed health and hygiene protocols, including wearing a mask.
“When ‘normal’ life resumes as a result of delivered vaccines reaching a critical mass, our hypothesis is that some members will revert to the same patterns as before, with a preference for their gym community and social experience. Others will mix and match with both gym and at- home solutions for their fitness needs,” Flint continued.
Re-thinking discretionary spend
Health experts have predicted that obesity could increase the risk of Covid-19 infection by seven fold, so it’s no surprise that respondents say they will place a greater focus on their health and wellness, not just presently but also well after the threat of Covid-19 has passed. However, given the uncertainties in the short term, up to 50% say they’re looking at ways to reduce discretionary spend, including cutting down on holidays, eating out, social activities, and gym memberships.
The case for the Philippines
“The results for the Philippines mirror the regional findings very closely,” said Mark Ellis, Country Manager for Evolution Wellness Philippines which operates a network of 14 Celebrity Fitness and Fitness First clubs primarily in the Metro Manila area.
Ellis continued, “At the start of the lockdown in March last year, we began rolling out a number of initiatives which on hindsight dovetail very nicely in response to the findings. For example, we offered a free virtual fitness classes via our social media channels to encourage members and the public to stay motivated and active whilst in lockdown at home. More recently we’ve made virtual fitness classes a permanent offering accessible through our mobile apps in the form of Virtual Studio, while Fit Kit leverages our relationship with fitness equipment suppliers to curate several kits at very attractive prices for home workout use.”
Early last year prior to the pandemic Evolution Wellness Philippines introduced a game-changing membership plan for Celebrity Fitness and Fitness First available from just Php 1,990 called MyStyle and MyFit respectively. “We designed this membership type to give our members and customers greater flexibility and control over what they want from their gym membership. They can choose full access to our class-leading facilities including cardio, free weights and functional areas, changing rooms, and the member’s lounge, or opt to add other services. We’ve seen strong uptake for these membership plans in recent months, presumably because people want to prioritise their health and fitness, while still being prudent with their disposable income which may have come under strain as a result of the pandemic,” said Ellis.
For Evolution Wellness Group, besides continuing to operate Asia’s largest network of health clubs across its existing six markets, it’s committed to improving its reach and depth through attracting new customers to engage with its brands for the first time digitally, as well as seeking greater engagement with existing customers through the introduction of new tools and services, such as Virtual Studio and Virtual PT.
Unstoppable Madam President: New Philippine Rugby Chief Ada Milby Prioritises ‘Safe Return to Play’ - Asia Rugby
This article was first published on Asia Rugby
The first woman to be appointed to the World Rugby Council, in 2017, serving on the Regions Committee and Rugby Committee; member of the Asia Rugby EXCO since 2016, heading the Women Advisory Committee and serving on the Admin and Finance Committee; member of the Philippine Rugby Football Union Board since 2013, now the Union’s President: the unstoppable rugby powerhouse that is Ada Milby talks to Asia Rugby.
Whilst by no means underestimating the difficulties, restrictions and challenges facing the rugby world overall and her Union particularly as a consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic, Milby is crystal clear on her priorities, remains determined and focused, and has immediately put into place a plan of action “to work with government agencies to ensure a safe return to play for all athletes and support role personnel based in country.”
She also remains positive about the opportunities and potential advantages the current period offers: “We are also using this time to review our governance structures and how to adjust our targets as we’re halfway through our current strategic plan.
This allows us to consider new threats and opportunities for the union in how we grow and develop the game.”
Cognizant that a hard reset must take place and that under the circumstances status quo will no longer do, she asserts: “we are prioritising engagement in non-conventional ways aimed at retaining our current stakeholders since rugby is about more than sport: it’s about community.”
Returning to play, the most critical consideration, for Ada Milby, continues to be players’ welfare. As part of Asia Rugby and World Rugby governing bodies, she has remained at the forefront of rugby’s mini-revolution where it comes to players’ safety. “I’m proud to be part of seeing the changes on the player welfare front, updating the high tackle framework to better educate coaches and players on ways to reduce the risk for concussion.”
Leading from the front always, Milby has been nothing less than a trailblazer as far as advocating women’s participation in rugby “from the grassroots to the boardrooms” is concerned.
“It has been exciting and rewarding,” she says, “seeing girl’s participation numbers on the fields in Asia and across the world rising, and then also the overwhelming support from the membership to move the needle on achieving a more balanced board by electing two women on Asia Rugby’s Executive Committee.”
She insists on downplaying her own contribution, however, crediting teamwork instead: “I wouldn’t claim any achievement as solely my own because all achievements on any council or committee are a result of the collective effort of the members that sit on them.
Moreover, she adds, “one challenge I face is the perception that since I’m a woman, I only care about women’s rugby. Of course, women’s rugby is a focus area for me, but not necessarily because I’m a woman. Globally, women’s sport is a growing category and World Rugby and Asia Rugby are promoting the development of women in Rugby, recognising this is an opportunity for growing the game. “
“Fortunately,” she adds, “I’m now engaging in spaces where the focus is on other aspects of the game demonstrating my interest in developing the Game with a holistic view.”
More focused than ever on “overcoming challenges and inspiring new leaders,” Ada Milby, our Madam President, shares two key tips for young people who wish to become leaders:
“Start with leadership of self. The more you know about yourself, the way you see the world and how others see you, the better you are able to engage, interact and lead a group towards a common goal.
“Recognise that you are likely a leader already. Leadership isn’t a destination – it’s a journey. My leadership style now is very different to the leadership style of my youth.”
The lessons and learnings from successes and failures along the way continue to shape my perceptions and decision-making style. So keep practicing the art of leadership, keep reaching for uncomfortable goals. Whether you succeed or fail at something, there’s always something on offer to help you develop towards achieving the roles in leadership to which you aspire. “
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