Having gone through Menopause and now looking back ( am 65 now), I tell all my female clients, espically those approaching menopause, to look at it in a more positive light (I didn’t). That it is a necessary and important defining turning point, truly defining in character. Yes, it is a transition from one chapter to the next, and hopefully, it becomea is t women client that it is an important transitional phase, into a new another phase. One with more experirence, expertise, and wisdom that can be sharted with those yet to enter into it, or leaving it and living out the next phase successfully.
It trully is a matter of attitude, which sets the stage and foundation as to how one approaches their exercise programming ( a MUST), and weight managment, and dealing with others. Nutrition takes a different look. Protein the bulding block for healthier and stronger muscles, tagged with Strength Training, resulting in more stable joints, and a shaplier womanly body, and this phase is not so bad after all!
Let me begin by saying that I am 56. However, that by itself means very little except that I have many friends all of whom experience what is referred to as ‘menopause’ differently.
This stage in a woman’s life is characterized by certain physiological changes which pretty much apply to everybody in similar ways. I believe that, as fitness professionals, we should be knowledgeable about that aspect of menopause.
Yet, the effects of it can vary widely. I always disliked the notion that it is something like a ‘disease’ with ‘symptons’.
I do not train ‘menopausal’ women differently because of that fact by itself. I make an assessment, as with everybody, and based on the assessment and the stated goals of the clients, the program is designed. If conditions change, as they sometimes do, we make adjustments.
I have made the observation that ‘menopause’ seems to impact some women much more psychologically than physically. I have seen a crisis in women who very much identified themselves with the reproductive aspect of womanhood, and who found it difficult to have that ‘taken away’. And yet, problems with identity can arise from other factors as well, such as a divorce or an illness.
In summary, there are physiological changes which manifest themselves differently from person to person, but the best approach to training is a good assessment, an open communication and an open mind.
As stated, each person approaches menopause differently so, I’d definitely work with their mental/emotional aspects first. Some see it as getting old and not being able to do much. Bodacious Women see life differently. It’s just a new adventure and a time to learn and do things they’ve never had the courage to do before!
A change of mindset, a look at their food program and daily conscious, consistent, consecutive movement is essential.
I don’t think it is enough to have gone through something to effectively guide someone through it. I do think it helps me relate to their concerns more.
I feel I can help my clients with this problem because I like to share either evidence based research on the topic or integrated approaches known to have worked for centuries.
Having lived through it recently, I also like to inspire them with my belief that they are on the path they are supposed to be on, and this natural path will change too. Nothing is permanent.
I do believe that there are some concerns that we, as trainers, should be mindful of when training menopausal and post-menopausal clients. If your client has not been doing any kind of strength training before menopause, it is a very good idea to ask if they have had a bone scan done. Women with osteoporosis and extreme osteopenia may be contraindicated from doing flexion exercises (especially if the bone loss is in the neck or lower back).
I have found that many of my clients who have returned to strength training after a few years have a harder time accumulating muscle mass than they did pre-menopause. They should be counseled to be patient and to work their bodies appropriately.
That being said, clients around my age (56) are, on average, more dedicated and more disciplined in their training than many of their younger counterparts.
Wishing you Strength~Joy~Wisdom