MyMT™ Blog

Do you think of yourself as Pear-Shaped? If so, it’s the type of exercise you do in menopause that matters!

Who do you know that is a Gonad or Gyneoid Body Type –  you know, a Pear-shaped body-type?
The reason I’m asking, is because there have been a lot of ‘AHA’ moments in the MyMT Coaching Groups this week. You see, every week in my private coaching groups, I try to have a ‘theme’ and this past week, was about Body-Types. In the main coaching community, I’ve been talking about food for body-types and in the Rebuild My Fitness community, which has a separate coaching page, I’ve been talking about Body Types and exercise. Body-types are a ‘thing’ in sports and exercise physiology. With the emphasis on muscularity and body-fat distribution for athletes and/or weight loss, I’ve been teaching the concept of body-typing, or as it’s technically known as, Somato-typing, for decades. That’s why I wanted to share this Body-Type information about the Gonad, or Pear-shaped woman, with you. It was one of the posts that generated the most ‘AHA’ moments with the hundreds of women in my private coaching community this week.  

I know the gonad or ‘pear-shaped’ body types well. They used to knock on my office door when I managed the personal training programme at Les Mills NZ. So many of them complained that they needed a new Personal Trainer. Horrified and disappointed I would ask why? “Because my jeans are tighter and my thighs are getting bigger, not smaller” was the invariable response.
Then I would ask them what cardio they were doing – Mainly the Stepper” said so many. My Trainer told me to step for 45 minutes 3-4 times a week.”
And do you have the Stepper programmed to be really heavy I learnt to inquire. “Yes, it is on the heaviest and hardest setting” they would say. I knew the answer before they even told me.
It was the 1990’s and we had no idea about body types back then. In fact there was very little emphasis on different ways of training for women versus men or athletes. But when I had my first complaint about ‘legs getting bigger’ in someone who was typically pear-shaped, I took notice. You see, the ladies were on the Stepper Machine and had it up to the highest, hardest setting, because they had strong legs. It felt easy. But therein lay the problem. They were building muscles in their thighs because the LOAD was hard. Take into account 3 times a week and a heavy load on their legs, and yes, over 6 weeks or so, your legs get bigger and stronger. Goodness knows how much protein they were eating or protein shakes they were drinking. Everyone was getting the same advice in the gym in those days. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Yet, it wasn’t all the pear-shaped women who were complaining to change their Trainers. The Trainers who did do well with this body-type were my Triathlete Trainers. Two of them have gone on to find fame and fortune in California and run their own studio. I keep in contact with them to this day. You see, they would get their Pear-Shaped women out cycling, jogging and swimming. For the sessions in the gym, they would only do upper-body exercises.

They wanted to balance up the lower-body heaviness by stimulating the upper body to build a bit of muscle.

I have similar conversations today with women who go to the gym and do endless BodyPump classes – resistance weights in a group fitness class. In this type of class, attendees do numerous squats and lower leg exercises under relatively heavy loads because the instructor is telling them to. There are over 100 squats often in a typical pump class – no wonder for the gonad body-type their legs get bigger and stronger – this is partly because they are bigger and stronger already and can tolerate heavier loads. But they have to be careful about how much additional load they place on muscles.
It’s why, if you are Pear-Shaped or a GONAD body type, then use light to moderate loads on your lower body and leave the heavy weights for your upper body.
If you recognise yourself as a Gonad or Gynaeoid body-type then you may relate to these characteristics:
1) ‘Pear-shaped’ figure with excess fat around hips, thighs and lower abdomen. In menopause, this is where your extra weight goes on!
2) With peri-menopause, fat accumulates over the lower abdomen below the belly-button.
3) You may crave sweet food and dairy products for comfort. 
4) You may find it hard to lose fat, especially if you have put on weight in the lower body.
Because weight is more heavily distributed in the lower body and thighs, the goal for gonad body types is to reduce lower-body fat through the right type and amount of cardiovascular aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cycling and swimming) as well as doing some upper-body strength training to sculpt and build shape into the chest, shoulders and back. This helps to balance up the body shape a bit more.
The type of exercise program that suits a gonad body-type is to do resistance weights in the upper body using heavier weights to build and sculpt in the upper body muscles, especially the shoulders. Then for the lower body to do a metabolic workout which is focused on higher intensity movements at a lighter weight. If gonad body types do too much lower body work then they run the danger of building up muscle in their thighs and legs, ending up with a ‘heavier’ look – or their jeans become tighter … like all those women years ago, who used to visit my office, when I was setting up Personal Training in New Zealand.
Flexibility exercises are great for you as well and should include, yoga, pilates and deep-breathing/ balance exercises. And yes, your weight management matters during menopause too … it’s why I loved how Lydia did my 12 week weight loss ‘Transform Me’ programme and then joined me on the 12 week exercise programme to rebuild her fitness. 
As I often tell women who join me on the 12 week MyMT programmes, we can often relate to more than one body-type, but the thing is to use these as a guideline, not only in how our body responds to menopause, but in how we manage those changes, with exercise.
That’s why I’ve made NOVEMBER, our EXERCISE MONTH. If you follow my newsletter, I’m going to have an exercise-related post in there for you. 
Mid-life is known to be the time of our lives when we feel exhausted, time-poor and lack motivation to exercise regularly. Despite over 30 years working in the exercise industry and in exercise education, I felt the same way too. It was also so confusing about why my normal routines weren’t working with my weight either, but lack of sleep and changing hormones were taking their toll. It’s why I set up My Menopause Transformation – because there hasn’t been enough emphasis on how to turn our symptoms and weight around without resorting to endless medications and supplements, that for many women, only work into the short-term. I’m so pleased that Daily Mail Journalist, Claudia Connell, came on board on my ‘Transform Me’ programme as well. 

What about you? Do you relate to any of these questions too?

  • Do your Joints feel sore and stiff now that you are going through menopause?
  • Do you feel that your current exercise isn’t helping you to lose your menopause belly-fat?
  • Are you losing muscle tone?
  • Do you lie awake at night not being able to sleep?
  • Do you feel that your heart rate and blood pressure are changing and you get more puffed the type of exercise you are doing?
  • Do you just feel too exhausted to exercise like you used to?
  • Have you given up on exercising in mid-life, because it’s just too jolly hard to fit it in?

When I experienced most of these changes too, I had no idea that the exercise that I was doing was all wrong for me during menopause. That’s until women on my women’s healthy ageing and exercise studies told me similar stories. It’s also then that I began to question the type, amount and intensity of exercise that we needed to do, as our hormones change during menopause. You see, women in their 50’s today are the first generation to go into menopause in the context of the modern fitness and sports industries. We are unique! Furthermore, many courses that provide training and certification for exercise professionals and Personal Trainers, don’t typically teach exercise prescription and the connection between hormonal changes in menopause.

That’s why I’ve named NOVEMBER as our exercise month! This is the month that I am presenting sessions on women’s healthy ageing and menopause at exercise conferences in both New Zealand and Australia, so I’m going to share some tips and strategies with you.

It’s also why I’m so excited to be able to announce the re-launch of my newly revised and extended 12 week online exercise programme for women in their menopause transition. I’ve simply called this ‘Re-Build My Fitness and it’s for those of you who want to know what to do with your exercise as you go through menopause or you are already in post-menopause. In this fabulous online programme that has BEGINNER and INTERMEDIATE LEVELS, you select the programme that best suits your body-type.

Join me as you discover how to:

  • Improve your Fitness levels to match your changing heart health and blood vessels in menopause.
  • Tone up and Strengthen your Muscles to help prevent a loss of muscle tone and size that affects most women in menopause (this is called sarcopenia).
  • Improve Core, Pelvic floor, Balance and more!
  • Find Motivation for exercise that you’ve lost because of your emotional changes in menopause.
  • Enjoy the right Food as Fuel as you increase your activity.
  • Enjoy my Live Longer, Live Stronger module and learn how to add years to your life with exercise
  • Mellow out and de-stress with my powerful bonus, Mindfulness module.

I can’t wait to have you come on board. In my video below, I explain what this programme will help you achieve. I’ve used my 30 years of exercise knowledge and experience and teamed this up with my doctoral studies on women’s healthy ageing and the menopause transition to bring you the most up-to-date exercise programming you will find. It’s all online and you can download the right programme to do at home or to take to the gym or to give to your Personal Trainer.

The 12 week, 6-step Re-Build My Fitness programme is available to you RIGHT NOW for NZ$349. Monthly payments are also available. 

I can’t wait for you to enjoy the exercise you deserve to support your health as you transition through menopause and beyond. When you get time, please listen to my video below. 

Wendy Sweet, [B.PhysEd./ PhD/ NZ Registered Exercise Specialist, MyMT Founder & Coach]

“If you have ever wondered if there was a clear easy plan to follow to sleep all night, reduce hot flushes and prevent or reduce your weight gain during menopause, then ‘welcome’ – you’re in the right place now.”

Discover how either of my two Menopause Transformation programmes might help you too or take my Symptoms Quiz below… 

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