Opinion

Head of Education

... women's health is often limited to these areas (prenatal and postnatal fitness), with little attention given to the menstrual cycle and menopause and their implications on training responses. Fitness organisations that expand their training to include these areas are not just complying with standards—they're seizing an opportunity to serve a more diverse client base effectively.

shape-Light-Blue.pngFuture-Proofing Fitness: The Critical Role of Women's Health Education  

A Critical Need for Speed

Certificates III and IV in Fitness are like an ocean liner: large and slow to change course. These foundational courses focus too heavily on data derived from research on young, fit men, ignoring the vast and varied needs of women. With only 6% of such exercise science studies from 2014 to 2020 exclusively with female participants, there is a clear gender bias in research.   However, the world is moving fast, and we can’t wait for the Cert III and IV education to catch up. We need to address the gap in women’s health education now—both for new trainers and those who have been in the industry for years.

The Current State: Forward-Thinking Leaders Fill the Gap

And while the current bias in research, data, and education is depressing, this presents a unique opportunity for forward-thinking organisations. Women’s health education explicitly created for fitness professionals does exist. By proactively filling this gap and providing specialised training in women’s health to their trainers, these organisations can enhance their service quality and position themselves as leaders in a more inclusive fitness industry. Just as first aid is essential, understanding the specific health needs of women should be a fundamental aspect of a trainer’s education.

Expanding Beyond the Basics: Capturing Market Advantages

Insurance standards already mandate specific qualifications for fitness professionals running prenatal and postnatal fitness. However, women’s health is often limited to these areas, with little attention given to the menstrual cycle and menopause and their implications on training responses. Fitness organisations that expand their training to include these areas are not just complying with standards—they’re seizing an opportunity to serve a more diverse client base effectively. This strategic expansion enhances market position by aligning with the evolving expectations of health-conscious consumers, offering a competitive edge in a dynamic industry.

Learning from Others: Leading by Example

Other industries are already leading the way in implementing policies for menstrual leave and menopause-friendly workplaces. For instance, the UK Civil Service offers menstrual leave, recognising the impact of menstrual health on productivity. Additionally, the NHS has introduced menopause guidelines to support its staff, highlighting the importance of understanding and accommodating women’s health needs. These examples show that change is both possible and beneficial, and our fitness industry can learn from them.

In sports, teams like the Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas, are leading the way by training athletes according to their menstrual cycles. This innovative approach has enhanced performance, reduced injuries and sparked a new wave of understanding and acceptance in the sports world. Our fitness programs should take a page from these examples, integrating comprehensive women’s health education to boost both client satisfaction and professional standards. By embracing these new ideas, we can inspire change and innovation in our industry, making our work more exciting and impactful.

Leading Change for a Healthier Future

Integrating comprehensive women’s health education into training programs is crucial as the fitness industry evolves. While traditional Certificates III and IV in Fitness have been slow to adapt, change is on the horizon. Women’s Fitness Education, a proactive Registered Training Organisation, is pioneering this transformation by embedding vital women’s health knowledge within their Cert III and IV programs.

Leaders in the fitness industry have a unique opportunity to close this gap beyond students in the fitness industry. By actively promoting and integrating women’s health education, they can ensure their trainers are well-prepared to meet the needs of all clients. This leadership action is essential for the industry to remain relevant and responsive in a world where consumers are increasingly aware and demanding comprehensive health solutions. This is a call to action for all fitness leaders to lead from the front, ensuring their organisations and trainers are as informed and capable as the clients they serve.

About Mish Wright:

Mish Wright, holds a B.Ed and Dip. Teach and is a celebrated educator in women’s health and fitness. Named 2024 Fuel Woman of the Year for her women’s health advocacy in the fitness industry and Educator of the Year in New Zealand (2023) and Australia (2021). Mish is Head of Education at Women’s Fitness Education, an RTO delivering Certificates III and IV in Fitness. Her innovative women’s health courses, completed by thousands globally, are integrated into the WFE platform. Mish now consults as an Education and Learning Consultant, shaping effective and inclusive fitness education worldwide.

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