International Women’s Day 2021 on 8 March, is a day of celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world. This year there is call to action for greater equality for women by raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality under #ChoosetoChallenge.
International Women’s Day 2021 is challenging us to call out gender bias and inequality by taking responsibility for our own thoughts and action and by collectively helping to create an inclusive world. IWD is marked by many events and here is a link for you if you want to know more about events near you: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Events.
Choose Your Mission
This year IWD 2021 has a number of missions to help forge a gender equal world revolving around celebrating the creativity that women bring to everything they do in areas of innovation, sport, the workplace, creative arts, health and business. The mission that is closest to our world of Pilates is “to assist women to be in a position of power to make informed decisions about their health”.
So how do we put in practice such a lofty goal? The adage act locally to impact globally comes to mind. IWD suggests a number of themes to explore under the banner of health choice decisions.
Age is just a number and women can choose to stay fit and healthy longer. We all know that healthy eating, a positive mindset and regular exercise are key. Many of us have clients in their 70s+ who are deeply committed to their Pilates practice as part of an active lifestyle. Many older women may be hesitant about starting or maintaining an active lifestyle. Take on the mission to encourage older clients to your Studio.
Pilates for Menopausal Symptoms
Are you experiencing menopause is hardly a conversation opener. Unfortunately, while menopause is a part of every woman’s lifecycle, it is not widely discussed which means that many women are not fully aware of the changes taking place and that changes can take place from 40 years of age or younger. Despite all the medical advances we see around us, it is still not fully understood what triggers menopause. Some suspects include genetics, lifestyle and autoimmune disease.
Sharing knowledge and experience can be the best way to support your clients. Being aware of the symptoms and understanding the level of anxiety that a client can experience is key. There have been a number of studies on the benefits of Pilates on menopausal symptoms and they all conclude that the benefits are real and wide ranging, improving both physical and psychological symptoms.
Knowing the Symptoms
There are many changes take place with menopause and as all women are different, the symptoms are also different. They include irritability, anger, hot flushes, depression, panic attacks, heart palpitations, difficulty sleeping, irregular hormone cycles and numerous other changes to the body.
If you have been seeing a client for some time, you may be the first to spot the changes. So while being sympathetic and gently encouraging them to keep up with their Pilates as part of their overall wellbeing, suggesting that they see a qualified health professional for a check-up might be the best advice you can give. If you want to find out more about menopause, the Australian Menopause Society has great tools for health professionals from fact sheets to videos to lists of specialist health practitioners around Australia.
Back in the Studio the focus for menopausal clients should be on improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility. An awareness of the areas of the body that are most impacted by menopause and the strategies required to build muscle and improve flexibility. If this is an area of interest for you, there are specialist courses run by PAA approved training providers that will help deepen your understanding of menopause and help you to design interesting and challenging programs for your clients incorporating the full suite of Pilates modalities.
Take it Easy on Stress
Many of us lead high pressure lives as we manage careers, children, households, businesses, aging parents, uncooperative teenagers, social media and the list goes on. Some of us have unrealistic expectations of how much we can squeeze into our lives and for a large number of women, mental and physical health are often relegated to the end of the to do list.
Many come to Pilates exhausted both mentally and physically and seeking quick fix solutions. The fight and flight mechanism is permanently switched on, so getting your client to slow down and accept that going slow and getting in touch with their bodies through Pilates is what they need, can often be quite a challenge. So what can you do? Create an environment that is supportive and welcoming, spend time negotiating realistic goals and be generous with your compliments. Help them to stay positive about themselves and keep them coming back.
These are a few things you can do to #ChosetoChallenge for International Women’s Day 2021 to help forge a gender equal world. If you would like to know more about the mission to assist women to make informed decisions about their health go to: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Mission/Health#.
by Ditta Zizi, PAA member.
 Effects of 8-week Pilates exercise program on menopausal symptoms and lumbar strength and flexibility in postmenopausal women – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934971/; An observational study on the effects of Pilates on quality of life in women during menopause https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1876382014001346