With 1.2 billion women set to be peri or post menopausal worldwide by 2023, it’s time that someone made it easy to understand what’s best for their bodies. Enter Jess Ennis-Hill…
You probably know her best for that epic London 2012 gold medal. But, ever since retiring in 2016, she’s certainly not slowed down.
“After I retired in 2016, I set out to establish a women’s hormonal health platform, where my goal was to help women understand what’s happening hormonally. We started with Jennis CycleMapping , which helps women sync their fitness to the 4 phases of their menstrual cycles, and now we’ve launched an incredible programme that’s designed to support perimenopausal women.”
Here, we find out more about why Jennis Perimenopause is set to be such a game-changer and discover what really drives Jess Ennis-Hill to change the world of hormonal health for women.
Hey Jess – so, why have you focused on supporting women during perimenopause?
The more I looked into it, the more I realised that perimenopause is a lifestage for women that is really, really underserved. Millions of women are perimenopausal, 25% experience debilitating symptoms, 10% have to give up work because of them - and a lot of them are hit by really bad symptoms (brain fog, low mood, low motivation). The problem is that because they don’t know what’s happening to them, they often blame themselves.
The big issue for me is that there’s a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there about what’s best for perimenopausal women in terms of fitness, food and managing symptoms. This means that a lot of women aren’t doing what’s right for their bodies because the information available is often overwhelming and it’s not easy to get simple and actionable takeaways.
Now it’s time to give perimenopausal women some well-deserved air time and attention
We wanted to make it easy for perimenopausal women to access both the information they need to do what’s best for their bodies, plus practices and sessions that help them act on the advice we share with them.
You're not perimenopausal, so why’s the app so important to you?
When I launched Jennis , my long-term ambition was to help women with their hormonal health at every life stage. We started with CycleMapping , where women can track their cycle and tailor their workouts, nutrition and life in line with what's happening hormonally and what phase you are in. Now it’s time to give perimenopausal women some well-deserved air time and attention.
Why do you think perimenopausal women are seemingly forgotten?
How long have you got?! I think there are a lot of reasons. There's the gender data gap , which means that women’s health is not as well researched as men’s – this is across the board.
Something like 8% of health studies exclusively feature women, meaning that the data in a lot of research is skewed towards men’s bodies and hormones.
Secondly – and I find this unbelievable – there isn’t a simple test to determine if a woman is in the perimenopause , so women are often misdiagnosed, and things like mood swings and irritability mean that they're often prescribed antidepressants.
Finally, like a lot of women’s health topics, there seems to be a massive taboo around perimenopause, where we’ve had decades of not feeling comfortable enough to talk about it, particularly at work .
Add all those things together and you’ve got a massive group of people who feel forgotten about, misunderstood and in some ways shamed about what’s a normal stage of life. I really want to change all this and end the confusion and lack of body literacy.
What are some of the main perimenopausal myths that you want to bust?
This is where it gets interesting! There are so many – everything from what exercise to do to how to lose weight and even sex during perimenopause.
I guess a big one for me is that: ‘If you want to lose weight as a perimenopausal woman, you need to restrict your calories and deprive yourself of carbs’. The reality is that while our body composition may change during perimenopause, our bodies need a balance of protein, carbs and fats in order to function and fuel us right. Crash diets are out , a balanced diet and resistance training is in.
Another common myth is that during perimenopause you need to up your cardio to lose weight and stay healthy. Again, the one piece of advice I would give anyone approaching or going through the perimenopause is to consistently include strength training in their workouts – it's an absolute non-negotiable at this lifestage.
If cardio is your thing, then great, we’re not saying hang up your running shoes. But, as we age, because we lose muscle mass, doing 2-3 resistance training sessions a week can help you retain and grow muscle, improve bone density, reduce hot flushes - you name it.
I’ve gathered together an amazing group of experts who will tell you that you aren’t alone, there are things you can do and it’s not all doom and gloom
The likelihood is that you are probably looking to diet and fitness advice that we were fed in the 90s. The good news is that those rules do not apply and simply don’t work for perimenopausal women. Because it’s a whole new hormonal journey, you need to workout, eat and destress completely differently.
Tell us about some of the experts behind the app…
I’m really lucky to have such an incredible team at Jennis . Each one of them has their own expertise when it comes to women’s health, so we’ve got it covered.
Dr Emma Ross is Jennis’ Physiologist and she’s been by my side since we launched Jennis in 2019. She’s across all of our scientific studies and physiological content and helps women understand more about their bodies. She’s genuinely one of the smartest women I know.
Laura Clark is our resident Clinical Dietician and specialises in perimenopausal nutrition. There’s nothing that Laura doesn’t know when it comes to diet for hormonal fluctuations, as well as behavioural change when it comes to food.
And, of course, where would we be without Perimenopause Fitness Expert, Baz Moffat ? Baz herself is a former elite rower from team GB and she’s now honed her expertise in women’s fitness, specialising in pelvic floor health, perimenopause and stress management. She’s amazing.
If we can help perimenopausal women understand what’s happening to their bodies and feel positive and empowered about a path forward, to me that will feel like we’ve achieved
We also work with a huge team of experts across medical, wellness and fitness content. Nicky Keay , hormone expert and lecturer; Bella Smith , the nicest and most knowledgeable doctor you will ever meet; Anna Allerton, our workplace coach; Shelley Rudman , our strength coach; Lina Lielsen , our yoga coach and the hugely knowledgeable breathwork coach, Georgie Lawlor .
What can people expect to see in the app ?
It’s basically everything you need – your one-stop-shop during the perimenopause . We’ve got fitness workouts that are designed specifically for your changing hormones; expert-led yoga and breathwork sessions depending on your symptoms and hundreds of expert tips and audio guides that have totally blown my mind. You can also track your symptoms and your activity to give you a better picture of what’s going on in your body.
What would success look like for you?
To make the app, we spent a lot of time talking to groups of perimenopausal women and almost all of them talked about feeling lost and out of control.
I’ve gathered together an amazing group of experts who will tell you that you aren’t alone, there are things you can do and it’s not all doom and gloom.
If we can help perimenopausal women understand what’s happening to their bodies and feel positive and empowered about a path forward, to me that will feel like we’ve achieved.
Sign up to the Jennis Perimenopause app by Jess Ennis-Hill to reduce symptoms, get the results you want and feel better than ever