Two years ago I became a mother, reaching a mile marker in womanhood that set me apart from other personal trainers who had not experienced the challenges of pregnancy or postpregnancy body woes. I found out just what it took to make healthy decisions every day. With each trimester, I learned new ways to cope with ever-changing levels of energy, hunger, motivation and, most of all, hormones.
My pregnancy and postpartum recovery set me on a new track to discover more about hormones and their incredible effect on a woman’s ability to metabolize fat, build muscle mass and mobilize energy during the changing stages of her reproductive life. I took about 6 months off from training to stay home with my daughter and dove into learning more about nutrition and reproductive health.
When I returned to training, without even trying or searching out the clientele, I noticed a significant shift in clients from a broad base of personalities and gender to about 90% of clients being in their 30s to 60s—and female. Of those women, 80% were currently in menopause or postmenopausal. Was I wearing a sign that said, “I understand your hormones,” or was it that the minute I mentioned I had a baby there was a magnetic force between client and trainer that formed an estrogen bond? Either way, the shift in clientele in the last 2 years has created a challenge for me to stay current with the female fitness world.
One of the most common complaints from women in menopause is lack of energy. This deficiency can stem from changes in iron levels (causing anemia-based fatigue) or changes in insulin sensitivity (causing a hypoglycemic effect on energy). I’ve found that a focus on nutrition is crucial during menopause (pre/post/current). Like pregnant women, women in menopause find any excuse to satisfy physical discomfort through eating. I emphasize healthy substitutes for sugar cravings and help my clients learn how to keep blood sugar and iron levels stable.
I also emphasize an increased focus on strength training. My programs for menopausal clients are constantly challenging but empowering. During a time when women feel mostly a lack of control over what’s happening on the inside, I can help them achieve control over what’s happening in their muscles and joints by increasing strength and reducing discomfort.
I am finding that personal life changes are affecting my growing business. Becoming a mother has helped me relate to a new clientele. I am happy to serve clients who are happy with me.
Channing M. Morales
Personal Fitness Trainer and Nutrition
Coach, Life & Body Fitness Inc.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
The following three special populations represent the fastest-growing groups in our personal training business: corporate clients, clients with osteoporosis/osteopenia and medical referrals. We carefully assess each group’s needs so that we can provide the most efficient, successful and satisfying service experience possible.
Corporate clients. Image is extremely important in a corporate environment; women want to present their best possible selves. We liaise with companies like day spas and hair salons that cater to professional women and their needs. The result is extremely polished, healthier and happier women!
Clients with osteoporosis/osteopenia. Bone health is of special interest to our female clients. Our medical exercise specialist created our “Bone Building” program to satisfy the specific needs of women who are concerned with or have been diagnosed with a bone condition. Proper form, exercise selection, movement patterns and loads are some of the critical elements we consider to ensure safety and positive results.
Medical referrals. We work closely with other healthcare professionals, like doctors, physical therapists, physiotherapists and chiropodists, to provide more well-rounded care for our clients. All concerned parties work collaboratively to address the acute health, medical and/or rehabilitation issues at hand.
Personal Trainer, Vital Steps Inc.
I’m an exercise physiologist responsible for the health and wellness of hospital employees. While you might think this population would be champions for their own health, that isn’t always true. One special population that has been growing is employees with “diabesity,” a condition where you have diabetes, a BMI greater than 30 and an “apple”-shaped body. It is alarming to see how many people are in this category. The good news is that it scares some people enough to make the necessary commitment to change their lifestyles.
To help prevent “diabesity” in the hospital population, I work in association with the YMCA and its Diabetes Prevention Program. This program is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes in those at high risk for developing the disease. Our aim is to help clients learn—in small-group sessions—how to make choices that will sustain a healthy lifestyle. The primary goal is to help participants reduce body weight by 7% and increase physical activity to 150 minutes a week.
My role is to be a “lifestyle coach.” I encourage the group to discuss, review and evaluate new behaviors so people can effectively make needed changes. I lead participants to find the best path for their lifelong journey.
In my small-group sessions I help people learn to track, and report in a journal, not only their food choices, but their physical activities as well. I teach them how to use a pedometer, which is unintimidating and provides easy accountability.
It’s my hope that as an industry we can reach people with preventive programs before the really difficult (and costly) health challenges begin. I’ve found that the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a wonderful new tool in my toolbox!
Sarah Collins, MS
Exercise Physiologist, St. Vincent’s