Fitness Instructors and Periods

The menstrual cycle is less of a taboo subject these days.

Women and some men find it a lot easier to talk openly about periods and the various side effects, which is without doubt a good thing.

And I’m about to talk about it some more.

One thing I often (when I say often I mean every month) wonder is how other female fitness instructors feel about teaching classes during their time of the month.

Me personally, I find my period is the thing out of everything that affects how I feel when teaching the most.  More than fatigue, early starts, multiple classes in a day, DOMs from training sessions, being hungry, eating too soon before a class – all those things we generally accept will have an impact on how we teach.  None of those things affect my teaching as much as my period does.

I don’t know if that makes me odd or if other female instructors feel the same – mainly because it’s not really something that often comes up in discussion.

I find that odd in a way because I’d talk to people about how their period affects their eating habits or their training in the gym – and I think a lot more fitness professional discuss these things with clients now.  Yet generally, whilst I always note how for one week of the month I struggle with classes more, I rarely give it much more than a passing thought.

I have quite long periods (five days average) and they are pretty heavy for around two of those days (normally days 2-3).  I tend to get bad cramps for he first couple of days and breast tenderness pretty much all the way through.  I hate almost everyone for those five days, am somewhat irrational at times and will cry at almost anything.

So actually when you think about that you can kind of appreciate why I think teaching during your period is harder than at other times.

We all know exercise can help cramps, and I do always know I’ll feel better afterwards, but sometimes standing up in front of people and smiling when you feel like someone is punching you repeatedly in the stomach is tough, even when you know that once you get started it will get better.

Even the best sports bra doesn’t help much when you are jumping about with sore boobs – and when you’re taking the class dropping the intensity a bit to stay comfortable isn’t really an option.

The moods and the tears.  Now classes for me can make this so much better.  A good class can cheer you up, fill you with feel good hormones and improve your day.  Make a mistake, or get a complaint and all the hormones make it feel so much worse – suddenly things you would normally shrug off make you feel terrible.

I also find I muck up more.  I’m more forgetful and clumsy (yes even more than normal).  These are not things that help when teaching an hours worth of choreography to music!

And the worst feeling when it comes to periods.  That feeling when you’re not quite sure if you’ve leaked. No women like this feeling.  The attempt to check if you have or not without anyone seeing.  Not really any way of doing that when you’re up front in a class so when it happens you have to just have faith that it hasn’t happened.

Put all that together and it kind of makes sense why I find teaching on my period more stressful than at any other time.  I still enjoy it once I’m started but it’s a harder because there’s added factors affecting how I feel and move.

So my question am I just odd or do other female group exercise instructors feel the same way?  What do you do to get over these feelings or do you just ‘man up’ and get on with it?

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