Meet the phenomenal woman that is Kate Oakley, founder of Your Future Fit - and a woman on a mission to support midlife women in becoming strong, bold and in control of their bodies and minds.
We loved this conversation. It’s full of valuable reflections on Kate’s own journey as well as tips on what we can all do to squeeze resistance training into our everyday. We know you’ll enjoy the read too.
With love, Rebekah
First, tell us a little bit about you and the founding of Your Future Fit. What motivated you to start the business? What principles drive its evolution?
I’ve always loved fitness and training so it’s been a part of my life for decades. I trained as much for the mental benefits as the physical ones – loving how it made me feel. But as I reached my late 40’s, I noticed the way I was exercising wasn’t working for me anymore – I no longer felt as “toned” as I used to. I also found I couldn’t get away with eating the same foods and drinking the same amount of alcohol without it taking its toll on my body, emotionally and physically.
Around this time certain other wellness issues had started to appear – disturbed sleep, crazy high body temperatures, mood swings, lack of libido and more. It gradually occurred to me that I could be peri menopausal, and my ever-fluctuating hormones were responsible for all these changes. I did lots of my own research into menopause and learnt what kind of exercise I should be doing – for my short and long-term health. It changed my body and mind for the better in a truly amazing way! I felt I was taking some control back in a time when many things felt out of control.
I became passionate about resistance training and technique – understanding that shorter, more focused workouts, alongside good nutrition, sleep and stress management can change a woman’s life dramatically for the better.
By this time, I was approaching 50 and had fallen out of love with my 25-year career as an HR Director. I wanted to jump out of bed in the morning – with joy, passion, and energy in all areas of my life. And I wanted to make a difference to others.
So, aged 50 in lockdown 2020, I trained and qualified as a Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach, determined to focus on peri and post-menopausal women who were going through similar challenges to me. I felt eager to help other women feel strong, bold and in control as well as strong and healthy for the longer term too.
How has your own peri/menopause transition influenced your outlook towards work and life?
It has changed how I manage stress. I know I can only handle a certain amount otherwise the impact is too great and whilst I was prepared to accept that in the past with my career, I no longer am. The consequences just aren’t worth it. So, I will now carefully weigh up a work opportunity with how much stress it’s going to bring.
I also think it has made me more grateful for what I have and for what my body CAN do. Yes, I have challenging days and weeks as part of my transition, but I know they’ll pass.
I feel more determined than ever to make the very most of my life. I know I deserve it and feel confident that if I want to do something, I can! The only person holding me back would be me!
How do you define success for your business and yourself individually?
Success for my business is YES to the following:
- Am I making a positive difference to how women are approaching their health and well-being in peri / post menopause?
- Are women reframing their approach to life differently because of my work?
- Are women better informed about this transition in their lives?
- Are they better equipped with tools to make the right choices for their transition?
- Am I making women feel better about themselves wherever they are in their journey?
Has your definition of success changed over time as an entrepreneur and individual?
In some ways no – the main definition of success for me has always been ‘am I making a difference?’ be that to one individual or 1,000.
But what has changed is that when I was younger, I would compare myself more with others as a marker of success. These days that matters very little.
What correlation, if any, do you see between age and ambition?
I love this question!
Since I made this big career change, I can see several different paths as to where the business could go and I feel if I wanted to, I could make them happen. (Bold statement I know!)
BUT – and it’s a big BUT – I know that the more ambitious the path, the more stress that comes with that. So, I have had to work out which is more important to me and which makes for a happier life overall.
In my 30’s ambition would have trumped all else. But with age, that has shifted, and I am comfortable with my level of ambition now. although admittedly I still sometimes get a pang for going after the bigger goal.
What are your aspirations for your business over the next 24 months?
- That my business goes some way to changing the narrative of midlife.
- That women see this stage of life as an opportunity – a time to move away from what no longer serves them and make time for what does.
- That resistance training is elevated to a MUST DO for all women over 45.
Over the next 24 months I want to establish the business as a leader in menopause retreats, with resistance training very much at the forefront. Peri and post-menopausal women will leave these retreats confident that they can live life to the full as they have knowledge and tools to do so.
What do you wish your younger self had known about:
Life: I don’t – I think ‘learning on the job’ is the best way!
Love: Don’t be afraid
Health: This is at the centre of absolutely everything
Work: Saying no doesn’t mean failure
What would be your key advice to women transitioning through menopause today? What practical steps could they take to better support their bodies and minds?
Start researching, learning – tooling up. Listen to podcasts, read books, follow the right people on social media, talk to others. Not one menopausal transition is like another so there isn’t a step-by-step guide as to how to manage it well. Once you have all the information – then you can make the right decisions about how to support your body and mind in the best way that serves you.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the MPowder community about our second spring?
If you’re reading this and thinking you would like to make changes to how you live your life – big or small – I’d say DO IT! Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? And what’s the best?
I have never been happier since making my big change!
Finally, we all know that stress can exacerbate menopause symptoms and we’re all living with a constant underlying anxiety - from the pandemic, from the disproportionate impact it has had on women, from political upheaval…from unprecedented job insecurity. What have you done to better support yourself in the last 24 months? What have you learned. And what will you carry with you as the world once again shape shifts?
I started to make breathwork a daily practice a few months into lockdown. After trying a multitude of different meditation types – this is what works for me. It slows my heart rate right down, I feel less anxious, calmer and more balanced on the days I practice it.
I think it’s something I’ll now do forever.
On a more personal level, I’ve learnt to start talking to myself as I would a friend - with love, empathy and compassion. I haven’t totally cracked it but am getting there!
Thank you Kate. To find out more about Your Future Fit, follow Kate @yourfuturefit.