When you’ve been motivating others to improved fitness and vitality for the past three decades, it’s tough when you nearly lose your ability to do this. Having also worked for global fitness giant, Les Mills, for the early part of my career, I totally understood where Wendy was coming from when she emailed me to say that her blood work was all over the place and she had no energy to continue the job she had loved for decades.
As a Master Trainer for the Asia-Pacific region, her changing energy during menopause, meant that she was struggling with her energy and recovery.
The past few decades have seen the emergence of a new brand of fitness ambassador, Group-Fitness Instructors – many of them, like Wendy are now going through menopause. However, very little research has been undertaken on how these amazing women with so much talent and passion for motivating others to exercise, need to manage their menopause transition as well as keep doing the job that they have spent years mastering and honing to become recognised as Master Trainers.
I’ve often written about how our muscles change as we age. Menopause is the start of our ageing and oestrogen has numerous functions in muscle, tendon, nerves and blood vessels. Hence, as oestrogen levels begin to decline, we have to not only adjust the intensity of activity, but also our dietary intake.
The fitness industry is reknown for having high intakes of protein and fats – Wendy was the same. She was taking protein formulas daily, thinking that this would help her recovery, which in the past it would have.
But now she was in menopause and with her changing blood vessels and kidneys, high protein diets for women exercisers are known to be damaging to kidney function and of course, a high protein diet and poor recovery from exercise when you aren’t sleeping, contributes to worsening hot flushes and night sweats – both of which Wendy was experiencing. Changing things up a bit with her recovery strategies, sleep and the dietary changes she needed, meant that she was able to turn all these symptoms around and keep becoming the best that she can be in midlife.
It’s a slippery slope towards over-training status for women like Wendy, especially when they aren’t sleeping. If they aren’t sleeping, they also aren’t recovering from the exercise they are doing. I wasn’t surprised that
I’m so pleased Wendy found me at My Menopause Transformation and I’m also pleased that she is continuing with the job that drives her passion for supporting new Les Mills instructors to do the important job they love to do. Here is Wendy’s story that she has kindly shared with you all.
“Having been a fitness professional for 30 years, I naively believed that when menopause would inevitably arrive I would be able to handle it with ease, as I am fit, active and accustomed to sweating.
I believed that because of my training and diet, and ability to handle sweating, that I’d maintain my fitness, my size and my training through the menopausal phase, and life would go on as usual … how wrong I was.
I wasn’t aware of the multiple symptoms associated with peri menopause (I didn’t even know that was a term) until I was gaining weight regardless of diet and exercise, experiencing increased anxiety, poor sleep (which I’d never experienced), low energy and very painful feet and ankles… as well as hot flushes.
It felt like my health and fitness was slipping away. This more than anything, affected my self image and confidence markedly. I knew I needed to learn more, try to understand and fix what was happening to me, so I could get my life back to what I knew.
So I began to do my own online research. Thankfully Google quickly led me to Dr Wendy Sweet (PhD). I actually reached out to Wendy who was so gracious with her time and advice. I had no idea of her background in group-exercise with the Les Mills group. Her understanding of my situation and the advice she gave me that was specifically tailored to my individual circumstances was amazing.
I immediately signed up and Wendy’s program. It was so full of ‘aha’ moments that I instantly knew that I’d found the right person with the right information for me, and I actually no longer felt alone in my menopause journey.
With the volume of exercise I do each week, I now understand that my peri-menopause symptoms are still a work in progress. But my confidence is back as I know I’ve found the place where I can seek knowledge and support in a supportive community.
It’s fabulous that Wendy has created her coaching programs based on life experience and research, that are mind settling, informative and extremely useful. She has been so generous with sharing her knowledge with me. She genuinely cares and I cannot thank her enough! Im forever grateful that I can now continue doing the job I love to do.
Wendy Elphinstone, Australia
BODYSTEP & BODYPUMP Trainer and Presenter,
Les Mills Asia Pacific