Erin Bidlack of Studio 573 Fitness Kicks Off 2024 Westminster Women’s Retreat With Presentation on Entrepreneurship

A “Women in Business” presentation by Erin Bidlack of Studio 573 Fitness in Jefferson City, Missouri, kicked off the much-anticipated 2024 Westminster Women’s Retreat at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Hunter Activity Center.

The business owner encouraged the more than 30 female participants and three male supporters gathered in Hermann Lounge to consider entrepreneurship from a place of confidence.

“Don’t feel not good enough to start a business because you’re a woman, or this or that,” Bidlack said, adding that when she first launched Studio 573, people diminished the initiative by referring to it as a “girl gym.”

Within seven years, however, Bidlack’s clientele grew from 20 individuals to more than 450, including men. The growth involved being passionate about her business idea, a strong business plan, reaching out for mentorships, hard work, and ignoring negative opinions.

Bidlack’s encouraging lecture set an upbeat tone for the 2024 Women’s Retreat, which was co-sponsored by Westminster’s Campus Activities Board and the 23 interns of the Remley Women & Gender Center.

Under the guidance of Remley faculty and staff advisors Dr. Kali Wright-Smith, Mandy Schick, and Cori Miller, the interns arranged for the keynote speaker as well as a catered luncheon, craft, and yoga class with Professor Emeritus Dr. Therese Miller. They also coordinated a “Beating Burnout” presentation by staff members Nicole Elliott, Stacie Gove-Ortmyer, and Mel Byers.

“We had a great turnout from students and professors, and everyone seemed to have a good time,” said junior Ashton Martin, ’25 ΚΑΘ. “My favorite part was the yoga with Dr. Miller, who added a relaxing touch to the day.”

The various retreat activities were part of an effort to create additional resources and space for women on campus, which Wright-Smith said were minimal when she was a student at the College in the early 2000s. The College first admitted women to the traditionally all-male institution in 1979.

Since then, the Remley Women & Gender Center has become more visible on campus, particularly since Westminster celebrated the 40th anniversary of women on campus in 2019. That year, the Center conducted a number of celebratory events and opened the Women’s Museum in the north entrance of Hunter Activity Center.

Located on the second floor of the Center for Faith & Service, the Center grew from approximately 10 interns before 2020 to more than 20 in any given semester since then.

Interns meet for class with Wright-Smith on Thursdays at noon to learn advocacy, peer-counseling skills, and discretion so they can hold office hours on site at Remley. They also help plan and assist with eight to 10 campus events per year.

Martin said the 2024 Westminster Women’s Retreat ― which is the third of its kind that the Remley interns and staff have conducted ― was highly productive for all. She reflects, “We had the opportunity to discuss the areas of campus that could be improved upon for women, and the feedback was amazing. We had a lot of great ideas, and the Remley interns will be looking for ways to use that feedback to better the campus atmosphere for the women of Westminster.”

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.