An Open Apology to Women in Midlife Pursuing Fitness

Women in midlife pursuing fitness, we apologize. We’ve made it a challenge. You’re at choice. You can choose what you want and buy what you need. But it can be hard to buy what you need unless you know to ask the right questions. 

In this episode I want to point out a few places where you might after this episode, look deeper, filter more, vet resources for yourself better. 

I also want to revisit the recent topic about ageism and consider the role that fitness professionals including myself play for you. We’re in a serving profession. To serve, we need to fill a need. I think it’s worth exploring whether that need is first identified by us or by you. 

Women in Midlife Pursuing Fitness 

07:57 Since the birth of fitness, there’s been a message about what fitness looks like, feels like and is that hasn’t left you with choices about what you wanted yourself. We haven’t stood up for you, not all of you. 

08:20 We haven’t explained the details well enough. Instead, we go right to answers and advice and instructions and cues without a thought about how they land. Those of us that have taught emerging fitness professionals have failed to relay to them the art of answering questions before someone knows to ask.

This in part comes because the barrier to entry in fitness is low. A certification exam consists of questions that can be answered based on the minimum knowledge a trainer, instructor, or health coach needs to know to enter the field. The individual has to demonstrate their own desire to rise above the minimum in order to do so. And yet, thousands of trainers aren’t even certified or pursuing continuing education that serves their clients.  

We Confuse

We have confused you with conflicting information. Though science does change, and that change will be a constant, among fitness professionals many have made it a mission to “be right,” instead of sharing, and adopting new knowledge. There’s a need to have the last word. Do you feel it? 

Personal training has become a one-on-one or small group expression of a blueprint used for classes or of a unique trainer’s preferred method of training, instead of the custom, methodology to arrive at the best solution for an individual. 

10:25 Videos I’ve shared over the years on YouTube (https://www.flippingfifty.com/flipping50tv) have given me a collection of comments that reveal at times women who’ve exercised (or tried) for years have never heard some of the techniques for increasing comfort of an exercise or the definition of a cue used over and over in fitness classes and training sessions. 

One such cue is “engage your core” 

11:45

For all of you unsure of how to actually “engage your core”… an apology first! 

We’ve not done a good job in the fitness industry. We’ve made it hard because we’ve taught trainers and instructors how to exercise, but less so, how to ‘teach exercise’ and do what some rare intuitive ones can do: answer questions before you know to ask them or can put words to them. 

Here’s what that teacher means… when she or he says “engage your core”  

So many other areas where we need to explain better for you.  

Hope this helps. This is the keys to the kingdom. Core does matter… so that life gets easier! (not because it will provide you with a flat belly or a six-pack) 

Watch Now: What Does “Engage Your Core” Mean?

Most fitness ads are highly suggestive that you want to lose weight (or should) 

I on the other hand suggest you should be lifting weights 

(and for optimal health it seems proven true in science, however is it my role to tell you that is what you should want… optimal aging?) I’m struggling with this one… it’s right where one of my younger colleagues has hit me right between the ears. I’m thinking about this. Right now, I’m still digging my heels in that yes, this is my role. 

That like once I know smoking is going to kill you, if I care about you, I am going to encourage you to stop. Selfishly, because you’re going to die painfully and I’m going to have to watch or care for you. And selfishly, because I think you have gifts and you’re not going to share them if you’re not fully functioning. 

16:53 That colleague is fellow Strength & Conditioning Coach, Molly Galbraith. 

Taking a Stand for Women

Molly Galbraith (co-founder of Girls Gone Strong) … is challenging my thinking.  So far, not so that I’m going to change what I’m doing it but so that I’m going to look closely at changing HOW I do it. I’m going to clarify Flipping 50’s messaging and purpose. 

Anyone who doesn’t want to hear how to age optimally or learn the science about maintaining muscle strength, mass, and bone and brain health through exercise will be potentially offput by our message. 

On the other hand, someone who wants the answer to, why isn’t what I used to do working, should my daughter be changing too, how do I lose the fat, and what kind of fuel makes the fitness more rewarding at this stage?  Will absolutely feel they’re in the right place. 

Molly of Girls Gone Strong is taking a stand for women’s rights to choose what’s best for their own bodies. So much that at Girls Gone Strong they are promoting a neutral message. Does she hope someone chooses strength? yes. The overriding message however is movement of a woman’s choice is her choice. If she chooses body weight, or yoga only, it’s her choice. 

It’s a ballsy move. I applaud it. As they support women and their safety, comfort in the weight room… and make fitness professionals aware of sexist comments, that make women uncomfortable and more. 

The ball got rolling on all of this for me when I began to look at all thoughts about menopause and the marketing messages telling women how badly there were going to feel, and the symptoms they’re going to experience, and the weight gain and metabolism slowing that (this is erroneous) menopause causes. [*It does not. This statement is to make the point.]

Another err of omission

This is another example of what could be related to you by a fitness pro… and leave your prior experience or personal belief to tell you what it means. 

23:51

Insulin sensitivity was reduced in early postmenopausal women. However, postmenopausal women increased peripheral insulin sensitivity, skeletal muscle insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, and skeletal muscle mass to the same extent as premenopausal women after 3 months of high-intensity exercise training. 

The question you want to ask: What does High intensity exercise training = ?

A lot of readers who think immediately HIIT would be wrong. High intensity strength training is included in this description as well and in fact was the exercise included in the study. That’s simply a way researchers express a higher percentage load, in other words heavy weight and fewer repetition protocol. 

A trainer relaying that study might not have even bothered themselves to look at the exercise in the study. 

Today, as I gathered the science to host a Flipping 50 masterclass, I came across an article on a site that did everything possible to imitate a credible source of information. 

The article was 4 Exercise for Older Women or something close. The article was written or at least updated in 2020. It could have been more appropriate in 1920. Before we know all we do now about intense exercise being not only reasonable but favorable for older women who want to age well. 

But the contributors weren’t quoting primary research, nor doctors or other experts. They in fact were IT, and social media experts. If they got you to the site and to stay on the page for a time reading, they won. That’s all it takes. Because then? Advertisers will pay a higher price to them.

It’s an information-seeker’s paradise and landmine both. 

So, what’s the point of this episode? Back to my intro… it’s that you first feel heard. If you’ve been confused, I can understand it. My hope is that your antennae is up a bit higher now. You know to ask, to probe, and to let your own fingers take you to pubmed.com and look for the research, as opposed to hitting a site that “looks good.” 

Further, I hope that you’re not allowing me or anyone else to tell you how you should age or what you want for yourself. I hope you choose health for yourself. And if you choose to come find the science about menopause and beyond, and someone who will catch you if you blame anything on age but lines from smiles and tears that scream meaningful life and love… then I’ll be here. 

And you’re welcome to catch me if I somehow fail you. I’m still finding my way here too. I don’t accept what has been as the way it will be. And yet, the way to talk and think about it positively is still fresh. So, let’s go together. 

The Facebook group, Flipping 50 Insiders is a free option and there are ways we can change the way aging happens by changing all expectations about what it looks like. 

So, women in midlife pursuing fitness, it’s not that far around the corner, really. It’s just a different corner than you’ve turned before.

Resources:

Girls Gone Strong: https://www.instagram.com/girlsgonestrong

Facebook Flipping 50 Insiders: https://www.facebook.com/groups/flipping50insiders

Getting Started?  https://www.flippingfifty.com/5dayflip

Other Episodes You Might Like: 

 5 Menopause Fitness Questions Answered: https://www.flippingfifty.com/menopause-fitness-questions/

20 Questions About Flipping 50 and Me: https://www.flippingfifty.com/flipping-50/

 

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