Updated: Sep 5
If, like me, you’re a 40-something woman, you may well be wondering what the hell is happening to you. As I entered the perimenopause I found my hormones going haywire. I felt tired and achy, I had headaches; in fact I felt like I was permanently coming down with the flu. I was more moody than usual and cried at the drop of a hat. I was forgetful. I’d put on weight and every time I looked in the mirror I saw not myself but my mother looking back at me.
I decided against HRT as a first resort, not because I’m against it; I know lots of women for whom it’s worked wonders, but I wanted to put into practice some of things I’ve learned during my time as a fitness professional.
I did some courses, I used myself as a guinea pig and although I certainly don’t claim to have all of the answers, fast forward a couple of years and things are decidedly better. I no longer feel exhausted, my moods are more even and I’ve lost a bit of weight although I still have a horrible little belly and I do occasionally find myself walking into a room with absolutely no idea why I’ve gone in there.
I’m a huge admirer of women my age and older, women like Davina McCall, who have six-packs and look incredible but for me and for most of us, that’s just not realistic and it isn’t always desirable. One of the things I’m slowly coming to terms with is that our bodies do change as we get older and when it comes to exercise our focus needs to move away from aesthetics and deprivation. We should be celebrating our bodies and nurturing them not punishing them and flagellating ourselves for how they look.
With all of that in mind, I’ve developed Fit Forever, a four-day fitness retreat aimed at midlife women. The goal is to help you find fitness and lifestyle strategies that will work for you during perimenopause and beyond.
So what can you expect if you sign up? Well, first of all, it will be fun. I learned very early on that unless you do something you enjoy you will never stick to an exercise regime so we’ll be keeping things light and hopefully by the end of the four days you'll have rediscovered your joy in movement.
The retreat won’t be prescriptive. In other words, I won’t be forcing my ideas on you. Of course you’ll learn about all of the elements that should go into your programme but you will then have the opportunity to try different types of exercise and discover which ones are going to work for you back in real life.
Strength training, for example, should be a key component in everyone’s exercise regime. Thankfully we’ve moved away from the idea that weight training makes women bulky and are instead being told to lift heavy. This is all well and good but you need to make sure that you’re lifting what’s heavy for you. Kudos if you can crank out heavy deadlifts but if you have pelvic floor or bone health issues than you will need to explore other options. Perhaps you don’t even have access to weights. During the retreat we’ll look at all of the ways you can incorporate strength training into your workout.
We’ll spend some time exploring a bit of theory - what we need to do and why - but mostly we’ll be having a go at different things. There will be some actual classes (including Pilates) but also workshops where we get to try some of the equipment in the studio such as the BOSU, suspension trainer or foam roller.
There will also be plenty of down time so you can relax or explore this lovely part of the world and, weather permitting, we’ll be able to get out for a walk or two. And, of course, you don't need to worry about food because all of that will be provided.
The next Fit Forever retreats will take place in November 2023 and March 2024. If you'd like to find out more head over to the main section of the website here