I love working in the fitness industry BUT there is a huge gap in knowledge, research and consideration to a woman’s life stages. So, here are 3 things I think, the industry should do better.
Education for personal trainers and coaches
It starts HERE! With the education that personal trainers are given as part of their basic qualification. Now, my training was a decade ago…however, there was not a huge amount of differentiation between men and women. And definitely no mention of the distinct life events where women require a different approach to men. For example, pregnancy, post-partum, menopause or peri-menopause, post hysterectomy. Many women will be pregnant/postpartum and ALL women will experience menopause (at some point). Yet, a course covering these is often seen as SPECIALIST!! You can see this gets me fired up, right!
When trainers are better trained, they ask better questions and can create programmes and training that truly help women. Training companies need to step up and improve their basic education.
Better screening questions
I often share this experience of being screened in a CrossFit gym and being asked about whether I had given birth. I replied yes and felt that my recovery was tricky. Aaaaaaand onto the next question. It’s great that they asked about birth but the fitness industry needs to equip coaches and personal trainers to probe and interpret these kinds of answers (and refer to if needed).
Key questions to include on screening forms
- When did you give birth?
- What kind of delivery did you have?
- If any, do you experience any symptoms of heaviness, leaking, or pain with any activity?
- How is your menstrual cycle? and how does it affect your training?
- Have you had any injury or surgery to the pelvic area?
If you’d like to read more about better screening questions, I have a blog here which I will link to.
Better sports science research on women
Because their bodies and physiology are different!! The good news is, there is more research, but the bad news is that can take years to disseminate. Plus, it can take even longer to be incorporated into training programmes/recommendations.
The advice I often give to clients who are working with a trainer is to simply ask whether “is that also appropriate for my body”. It’s not to trick them or show that they don’t know, but to help them question and seek answers.
And I have been here too! In fact, my motivation for going deeper and learning more about pelvic health was because I had clients where I didn’t know the answers to their questions. Or felt what I did know was not sufficient.
The purpose of this blog is not to point the finger at coaches and personal trainers. But to highlight that the information about womens bodies (particularly around big life events) is not taught at the basic level.