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Has the Menopause Product & Service Industry Already Gone too Far?

A note for industries and definitely not just for Menopausal Women...

By Jane Wake MSc

This week, the lovely Joe Wicks got a lot of ladies hot under the collar by coming out with 2 Menopause Workouts. Like a large number of new products, from supplements to creams and more, the addition of the letters MENO , is a popular choice amongst marketeers for their brands. It's very interesting because it feels a bit like midlife women have just been ignored, and now, all of a sudden there's this whole new cohort of people to target! I can hear the chatter within product development meetings all over the world!

Not surprising therefore, when Joe Wicks jumps onto the band wagon, quite a few women have taken offence while probably even more have come out to defend him. Personally, I think he is simply doing his job, which is to serve his very wide audience as best he can, and that's going to include a lot of women in midlife.

I do have a problem however with the idea we can call any workout specifically 'menopausal'. I choose not to label any of my services as such but do provide guidance/mentorships for women wanting to either prepare for this period in their life or who are in peri/menopause.

And this is why........

  1. There are no specific exercise guidelines for women in Peri/Menopause. We are still very much in the early days when it comes to research for women in midlife and the affects of exercise. In men for example we know that strength training increases levels of circulating testosterone. We don't know if this could be same for women and have knock on consequences. The more research we get however on the positive effect of exercise, such as improving muscle, bone and brain function, the more it's possible to see how very important it is to improving symptoms and reducing disease risk. The benefits are not menopause specific however and whilst there may be sex differences, everyone could benefit. The way you therefore gain those benefits doesn't warrant any one specific plan or programme to get them. When you look at populations such as pre/postnatal, there are environmental & physiological factors that enable us to create guidelines and consequently workouts, based on pregnancy itself. It's not so clear for women in peri/menopause.

  2. Every woman going through peri/menopause is going to have a very different experience. Yes, some women will struggle with higher intensity forms of exercise, hence Jo Wick's choice of 'No Jumping' and 'Low Impact' workouts. But is that because they are peri/menopausal or simply because of their current health status? We all have completely different reasons for needing to workout in a variety of different ways. There has also been a lot of scaremongering about higher intensity exercise being stressful and therefore a negative for women in peri - post menopause. This however is based on old school training methods (remember fat burning workouts?) and tied up in myths and outdated science.

  3. You could argue that peri/menopause, from an exercise perspective is an expedited point in our life that exposes women to a greater risk of many diseases from cardiovascular to diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia and more. We know for example that Men have far higher incidences of heart disease up to the age of 45 but women start to at this point catch up and in later years surpass men with a greater level of risk. Menopause is, in terms of many disease risks factors, a drop off point. It would on that note therefore, make sense for women to be looking at 'Menopause' related workouts, not at the point of drop off, but way, way before.


There is of course plenty of health advice that we can be giving women to protect themselves but that advice can look very similar for everyone ....

  • Load your muscles and bones

  • Do heart and brain promoting cardiovascular exercise of varying intensities

  • Stay mobile

  • Work on your balance

  • Find consistency and longevity

  • Support all this with good nutrition, good sleep, rest days and low levels of stress.

Whilst these key components are the same for everyone, How you execute them can be completely different. Does it need a menopause label? Some may argue that there is comfort in that - a feeling of safety and support and this is absolutely valid. The above however is really hard to navigate and get right for anyone! And that's where support systems become really important, particularly ones such as menopause trained coaches who understand your environment, perspective as well as individual needs - this is where many offerings, including Joe Wicks, have their hearts in the right place.

There are however plenty who do not. These are the cash cows springing up in a variety of places creating excessive price points and playing on women's life affecting symptoms in order to make a quick buck. From hot flushes to itchy skin, vaginal atrophy, brain fog - you name it, there are now a host of products now labelled as 'Meno' to deal with all of these things and I find some of them quite abhorrent.

I am all for a bar of almond chocolate with 'benefits'! But at £3.79 a bar and the recommendation to eat half in the morning and the other half in the evening, all with around 1/4 of the average calorie intake of most women, It makes me a tad suspicious as to the ethics of many products that are currently on the market.

So what could companies like Holland and Barrett be doing?

In my mind, the most important thing they could do, and, as a result generate loyalty and revenue, would be to promote really good education. And not just to menopausal women but to everyone.

Menopause is a period in a woman's life that everyone needs to be fully aware of in order to support women and empower them at this time. I've had the great pleasure of working with the wonderful company Over the Bloody Moon whose mission is to do exactly that, spread the word and provide good education within corporates but also to schools, and this is key.

Osteoporosis for example affects 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 and 1 in 2 from the age of 80. We know that there is a period of time during adolescence when we can lay down the foundations of our bone health to prevent osteoporosis in later in life. We need to know this stuff when we are teenagers, not just when we are menopausal.

This I believe is a hugely interesting take for creatives in the advertising and branding world to get their teeth into. Women are tribal - we learn from our elders and pass on knowledge to those younger than us so that they can have better outcomes. We work better when we work together and support each other. The man-made way we have been marketed to for years, ie putting us into separate age brackets, has led to us becoming disjointed, unconnected and feeling unsupported.

Do we need midlife brands? I for one totally cringe at the idea of what a typical woman my age (I'm 55) should conform to or look like. Is the idea of branding to a certain look or age or life stage simply outdated? There is a huge growing body of midlife women, past and present, who are kicking this idea to the curb and turning midlife into an exciting starting point to kickstart their life.

However we have got here, one thing is for sure, the current noise in the menopause space is highlighting the need for women to feel more supported. Perhaps if we were to prepare women earlier on, there would be less need for noise and more time for celebrating this time in a women's life when she has every right to feel empowered and positive about her life going forward.

If you work in an industry where you have an opportunity to support women through your company, brand or products, please do take all this into consideration - even if it's just to spark conversation and get everyone thinking laterally. And if you do work in a corporate world, please do pass this message on. It could just put you and/or your business way above the field and very importantly not piss off a lot of midlife women!

On 12th June at 7pm I will be presenting my Menopause Magnificence Workshop. This contains brand new material, new research and, a chance for you to create a map of what your or may be your clients fitness and wellness journey could look like when it comes to navigating the menopause. This is a unique opportunity to learn and understand some underlying science and discover new ways and new outlooks that could advance you and/or your clients/staff into a really magnificent space! It's open to everyone. I hope you will join me! Find out more here

Jane Wake is a health and fitness leader with 37 years experience specialising in women's health. She has a Master of Science degree in Sports Management. Her research focused on the sociological implications of exercise provision for women. As well as her own public facing, online studio, Jane works with companies, brands and within the media on all aspects of women's health and fitness,

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