International Women’s Day Q&A

International Women's Day Q&A

In honour of International Women's Day, we're debunking myths and empowering women by addressing common misconceptions and providing insights that celebrate the strength, resilience, and achievements of women in fitness.

Are there any exercises that women should avoid due to potential injury risks?

Yara, Physiotherapist: The short answer is no. Just because you are a woman, it doesn’t mean that you should be avoiding some specific type of exercise; on the contrary. Having that statement, and having people tell you that, can be a barrier to exercise. So, if you have been told that you shouldn’t be lifting weights or running, or jumping, or doing these types of things, they’re actually doing more harm than good. Lifting weights is super beneficial, it gets your muscles to get stronger, you’re going to feel better in your body, and you’re going to feel strong in your life. It helps with bone mineral density which is super important as we age because we know that one of the things when we go into menopause, is the risk of more fractures because of osteoporosis. So don’t be afraid of doing some exercises, just because someone told you you shouldn’t be doing this because you are a woman.

I’m pregnant, is it safe for me to continue training?

Yara, Physiotherapist: I love this question, and I do get it a lot in pelvic floor physiotherapy, especially from people who were exercising before pregnancy. The main concern is, can I still do that type of exercise while I’m pregnant? For the majority of cases, you’ll still be able to do your regular weight training, and you can even continue to run. For some individuals, you might start to experience symptoms, and this is where we want to adjust your program based on how you are feeling. Common symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, and discomfort in the belly, back, or pelvic area. Working with a pelvic floor therapist can be really helpful in understanding why you are experiencing these aches and if there’s something we need to adjust or change to allow you to continue exercising while feeling strong. This can prevent deconditioning over months and months and make postpartum recovery easier.

How soon after giving birth can I resume exercise?

Yara, Physiotherapist: For this question, it’s a little more personalized. The most common advice you’ll hear is to wait six weeks, so when you are cleared by your doctor, you can resume your exercise. But the reality is not as black and white. Some people might be able to resume exercise as quickly as two weeks postpartum, while others might have to wait a little bit longer. It all depends on how active you were before giving birth, if you continued training during pregnancy, how the delivery went (whether it was vaginal or a c-section), if there were any complications, and the type of exercise you’re returning to—whether it’s just bodyweight exercises, weight training, running, or other activities. All these variables matter, and working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist can help you create a personalized plan and timeline for achieving your exercise goals.

How does the menstrual cycle affect a woman’s training schedule and performance?

Yara, Physiotherapist: I see this a lot on social media lately. The reality doesn’t need to be as complicated as some people make it seem. You don’t need to drastically change your program depending on where you’re at in your cycle. Research has actually been conducted on this, showing that there’s no significant difference in performance throughout the menstrual cycle when looking at numbers and what you’re able to do. However, when we ask people how they feel, we tend to observe that during ovulation, people feel stronger and more capable, whereas during menstruation, they may feel a bit more tired and notice a slight decrease in performance. Therefore, the important takeaway is to adjust your training based on how you’re feeling. On days when you’re feeling a bit more tired, simply reduce your load or weights so that you’re not feeling as drained. On days when you feel great, you can push a little bit more.

How often should I work out if I don’t want to look bulky?

Natalia, Fitness Coach: If your goal is to become a professional bodybuilder, your exercise plan will be tailored to that. If your goal is not to bulk up, your program will not be tailored in that direction, and you’ll be able to focus more on fitness, health, and whatever your specific goals are.

Are there specific exercises I should focus on to target belly fat?

Natalia, Fitness Coach: No, there isn’t a specific exercise you can do to target a specific area where you want to lose weight. Losing weight is primarily based on your genetics, so you might notice that you lose more weight in certain areas. Similarly, when you gain weight, you might see it more in your face or legs.

Are there any proven benefits of waist trainers for shaping the waistline or losing belly fat?

Maria, Fitness and Nutrition Coach: No, there are no proven benefits to wearing waist trainers for weight loss or shaping your belly. In fact, it can be harmful to your breathing mechanics and internal organs. Weight loss primarily depends on the balance between calories consumed and calories expended.

Can detox teas or cleanses really help flush toxins from the body and promote weight loss?

Maria, Fitness and Nutrition Coach: We get this question a lot and unfortunately the answer is no. It’s not that easy, weight loss comes from ingesting fewer calories than you expend per day. A lot of these teas will have a diuretic property, which means you’re going to pee out a lot of the water. So, you might see the scale go down, but you’re not actually going to see any fat loss, which is what we are trying to do with weight loss.

Is it true that eating late at night causes weight gain?

Maria, Fitness and Nutrition Coach: No, that’s actually a myth. A banana doesn’t multiply in calories suddenly because it’s 11pm. A calorie is a calorie whether it’s 8am or 10pm. Again, weight loss really comes from creating a calorie deficit for your body to actually expend more energy than you’re ingesting.

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