The idea of who a female athlete is, and what fitness means to her, is changing — and Hannah Bronfman is a powerful example of the new athletic era.
“I consider myself an athlete, for sure, but I’m not a competitive professional,” Bronfman said. “I work out five times a week, but I try to do something active every day, whether that’s swimming, going for a walk, hiking.”
Part of what defines the contemporary influencer in this arena is an openness to participate in many fit-focused activities, as well as a desire to empower others.
Kira Stokes, a fitness expert and Stoked Method training program founder — who has spent ample time working out with Bronfman — can vouch for the athlete’s embodiment of these traits.
“She dabbles in everything, she’s willing to try anything, and she’s about promoting body confidence and a mind-body connection to workouts,” Stokes said. “With Hannah, it’s about looking and feeling good, and having an open mind to all different modalities of fitness. She’s not one-dimensional.”
“Hannah’s influence transcends fitness, health and beauty. She resonates within fitness particularly because she is a credible advocate, consistently documenting her journey to a better self through sport,” explained Alison Stewart, senior director of Adidas Women’s. “Authenticity is becoming increasingly important in the flooded market of influence. Hannah lives and breathes the lifestyle choices she presents.”
Adidas has backed Bronfman since 2015 and has featured her in its powerful female-focused campaigns, including this year’s “Unleash Your Creativity,” which also highlighted fashion model Karlie Kloss and WNBA All-Star Candace Parker. (Bronfman’s video has been viewed 2.2 million times to date.)
As she expands her influence, Adidas is dramatically broadening its reach in the women’s market.
According to data provided by The NPD Group Inc./Retail Tracking Service, from January to August 2017, Adidas Women’s performance footwear sales in the U.S. jumped 164 percent within that market segment, which brought in $1.6 billion during that period of time. Adidas is the fastest-growing among the top 10 brands.
Bronfman spoke exclusively with Footwear News and shared why Adidas is her ideal brand partner, discussed her biggest athletic accomplishments and explained her approach to fitness.
Who is today’s female athlete?
“Someone who is setting their own goals and breaking them and striving to do better for themselves. They’re determined, they’re strong-willed, and they bring those aspects into their everyday life, whether it’s work life or relationships.”
What is the role of fitness in your everyday life?
“It’s a daily relationship. It’s not just about working out; it’s about having an active lifestyle. I rely on fitness to help with mental clarity and to monitor my stress. I find that when I work out every day, I sleep better, I’m more relaxed at the end of the evening. I don’t have as much anxiety, and that brain fog is clearer.”
What is your favorite way to stay in shape?
“I really do everything, even things I don’t love. I do love boxing, I love Pilates, and I like anything I can have a mind-and-body connection with. Boxing is one sport that allows me to stay hyper-present. Sometimes in other fitness classes, you could still be thinking about other things and not focusing on the task at hand. But with boxing, you have to be so focused and in it; otherwise, you might get hit in the face.”
What is your biggest fitness accomplishment?
“I did a 12-mile hike, and we went up 3,000 feet. I’m not the strongest hiker, so for me that was a big accomplishment. Also, for me to be able to work with Adidas and utilize a company that is ingrained with athleticism, and for them to find me as a strong highlighted partner, is super-inspiring.”
“I don’t really use different shoes for different fitness activities. I’m partial to my [Adidas] Ultra Boosts; it is the top-performer, whether I’m running or boxing or whatever. They’re the one that’s best for my arch, and my feet can breathe in them. I love the way they look and to work out in them because I love a cute workout outfit.”
How important is it to you to look good in what you’re wearing in the gym?
“Honestly, it’s pretty important. Even if it’s just a pair of black, great-fitting leggings with three white stripes on the side — it’s not something necessarily bold, but they fit great, they look slimming, and they make me feel good. And ultimately, it’s all about what makes me feel good. Ninety percent of it is just showing up, so why not show up looking cute? It will take you to like 95 percent.”
How did you get involved with fitness?
“I’ve always had a really active lifestyle. I was a dancer as a kid and played sports in high school. When I was 19, my grandmother passed away from anorexia, and that was a huge eye-opening experience for me. That’s when I decided to live my healthiest and happiest version of myself.”
What advice would you give to other women seeking self-improvement?
“If I can help motivate people, that’s all I’m looking to do. I want to help other women realize that it doesn’t have to be difficult, to embrace the challenges and that every road is different; your journey is not going to be the same as anyone else’s. And try to be comfortable in your own skin, because ultimately, a woman’s best accessory is her confidence.”
Why do you think it took so long for brands to figure out how to speak to female athletes?
“With big brands, it’s hard to adapt to cultural nuances. Adidas has done an extremely good job of homing in on who their customer is, and the stories and lifestyle the customer relates to. Adidas found a great pathway to relate to their female consumer, which is highlighting the female athlete and redefining what a female athlete is. We’re all athletes; we just might not be professional. I feel like for the first time, a brand is redefining what an athlete, and athleticism, is to women.”
Aside from Adidas, how could brands competing in the athletic space better communicate with female athletes?
“Brands could take more of a back seat and let influencers and inspiring women with untold stories reach their audience. They should let those people run with the creative more instead of it being so much brand-driven. At the end of the day, it’s inspiring stories that we’re drawn to, and if we see a brand has supported that, it resonates more than trying to have the brand story be first and the inspiring story second.”
Who are the best brand ambassadors to communicate with women?
“It’s a wide range. People are inspired by so many different things these days. You can have the professional athlete tell their story, and you can have the inspiring story of a 6-year-old who has her heart set on being a dancer. You need to have good visuals and a good spokesperson, no matter where they come from, who could relate to your audience. And between YouTube and Instagram, there are sensations everywhere. Brands have to put in the work to find them.”