Posted on June 4th, 2020by RMANY

Ep 22: Physical Training Before and During Pregnancy with Juliette Walle

Fertility Forward Episode 22:

If you have ever had a question about exercising while trying to conceive and during pregnancy, this episode is a must! Our guest today, Juliette Walle, is a personal trainer whose training style is deeply rooted in an understanding of biomechanics. With a love of athleticism and finding the fun in fitness, her sessions are energy filled and sweat-inducing, tailoring every workout to her client’s needs, goals, and preferred styles.

Transcript of Episode 22

Rena: Hi everyone! We are Rena and Dara and welcome to Fertility Forward. We are part of the wellness team at RMA of New York, a fertility clinic affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our Fertility Forward podcast brings together advice for medical professionals, mental health specialists, wellness experts, and patients because knowledge is power and you are your own best advocate.
Dara: Juliette Wall is a personal trainer whose training style is rooted in a deep understanding of biomechanics. With the love of athleticism and finding the fun and fitness, her sessions are energy filled and sweat inducing. Tailoring every workout to your needs goals and styles is her specialty and leaving you with a smile on your face is her primary goal. She's worked for some of New York City's best known brands in fitness training everyone from professional athletes to people who have never worked out before. Juliette finds value in many approaches towards movement from Pilates to kettlebell swings.In today's episode, we discuss how to optimize and modify exercise while trying to conceive or while pregnant. She also provides education and resources for physical activity while pre or postpartum, and also how to honor your body while trying to conceive. I am so over the moon to have my personal trainer and I hope I can say this, my dear friend, who's become my dear friend, Juliette Wall and we're thrilled to have her today to talk all things, health, activity and the body. Thanks for coming on.
Juliette: Thanks for having me.
Rena: I'm so excited because everyone knows I love exercise.
Dara: Rena, this one’s for you.
Rena: Thank you.
Dara: So I don't really actually know so much about where, you know, how you started in this world. I know you danced, correct? But like take us back to childhood or wherever it was that kind of like was the precipice for you to go into this or to have this career?
Juliette: Yeah. So for me, my story actually begins even before I was born because it actually goes all the way back to my father who was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy in his late twenties and went against the medical advice at the time and continued to be active and exercise when they actually recommended that rest was the only thing that would prevent muscle loss.
Rena: Sounds like your dad and I have a lot in common.
Dara: So decades later, my father has vindicated and proven, right that the research tide has kind of turned and supported his approach. And he still practices Ashtanga yoga twice a week. He strength-trains twice a week. He usually goes for a run or a long bicycle ride on the weekends. And he is just a real example of what an active and healthy lifestyle can do for you, not just physically, but also emotionally and in terms of your stress levels, you know, regarding everything that happens. So for me, growing up, being active was always an integral part of daily life. We always were doing sports regardless of how good we were at them.
Dara: That's great. That's actually so smart. Like if you actually have joy in it, who cares how good you are?
Juliette: Absolutely. So I danced as well and was in the musical theater world for a long time, which in my college years turned me into teaching group fitness classes for side money because I was a broke college girl who needed to buy expensive textbooks and…
Dara: Useful expensive textbooks.
Juliette: Hopefully, hopefully. I still, I still do flip back through one or two of them, but so I started teaching group fitness classes on the side. And then when I graduated college, I actually found myself not really interested in finding a quote unquote, real job and decided to make a real run, letting fitness and movement and coaching be my career. I've bounced around a lot since then kind of followed a very holistic path and just kind of pulled the thread of whatever I was most interested in, whatever was really supporting people that I was coaching the best. And it led me through all sorts of different movement modalities from Pilates to yoga, to kettle bells, to working more as a nutrition coach, to lifestyle coaching, everything in those different realms has really allowed me to bring a coaching aspect that is highly holistic, meaning that I'm not going to come in and tell every single client that I work with to pick up a kettlebell. I'm not going to tell every single client that I work with to eat less carbs. I'm not going to tell every single client that I work with to do any particular thing, because I think that especially your activity and your exercise and your lifestyle are completely yours and there's going to be a perfect formula and it's going to work just right for you. And it's my job to help you find that, not to tell you what it is.
Rena: I love that.
Dara: Did you have a background in science? Was that your, when you were in school…
Juliette: When I was in school, so my major is in psychology and I have a minor in movement studies, which don't tell my university this, it’s just a fancy term for dance.
Dara: It sounds very fancy. I like it.
Juliette: Yeah. So I, in my psychology work, I really focused a lot on disability studies actually. So I did a lot of work in terms of understanding our conceptualization of disability and how we view physical disability and mental difference as a social concept, lots of work with, autism spectrum and understanding of that. And as well as working a lot with lifespan development psychology. So doing a lot of research within that, to get a better understanding of how we make sense of the world around us depending on where we are in our life.
Dara: That makes so much sense. Now that I know that you majored in psychology
Juliette: At the time I was like, I have no idea what I'm going to do with this. Like no one graduates from school with a psychology degree and like actually goes into psychology unless they go for grad school. And now like a decade later, I'm looking back and I'm like, Oh wait a minute, I use that stuff everyday. Totally, totally. So it's one of those things where, while I may resent the student loan payments slightly at the moment, I know every day that it was absolutely worth it.
Dara: But you know so much about the body. And it's one thing taking courses in movement, quote unquote, but you really like, you know, like you have a great grasp of how the body works. Was that something from school, was that after when you started into the fitness world and you're like, wow, I kind of need to know more?
Juliette: Yeah. I think that the latter is definitely my experience of it is, you know, I think I've heard that saying that beginners feel like they know a lot and experts feel like they know very little.
Dara: I love that saying.
Juliette: It's one that I think is really, really important. Cause I think, especially in the current fitness world, you see a lot of people who say, you know, I'm newly certified and this is how you do squats and this is the only way to do squats. And then you talk to people who've been training for 25 years and they're like, well, there's actually 97 different versions of a squat. Each one of them is a little bit different in this way or the other. And the more I taught, the more I coached, the more I worked with people, the more I realized how complex and intricate the human body is and how like honestly cool and weird it is and how much of a mystery and how much fun it is to explore. So most of my anatomical knowledge and most of my understanding of body systems is largely self-taught.
Dara: Wow. That's wild.
Juliette: I have taken a lot of courses and have done a lot of reading, but I cannot point to a single like instance or source or, you know, general education format that has kind of informed it because I am a big fan of just picking and choosing and taking the pieces of information that are really relevant from a larger piece of work and building it from within there and combining it with others. Because I think that one of my frustrations working in this space is that there is a lot of storytelling around one specific version of things. And so I find that going and finding all the different versions of that story and then kind of taking the pieces that you know are true or the pieces that you have anecdotal evidence for and kind of really representing all of those has been much more beneficial to me and my clients.
Rena: I love that. It makes so much sense.
Dara: It does, doesn’t it? And you've retained so much. I think that's the one thing like you can read it once and I feel like you would be the person that would like know it for life.
Juliette: Well, like I mentioned that I was in musical theater when I was in my younger years.
Dara: She’s a baby, everyone. So, so wise yet so young.
Juliette: But I was in musical theater and one of the things that I was always very good at was memorizing lines. And I am grateful to have a strong memory that allows me to think, Oh right, well, this reminds me of this thing back in this other book that I read, let me go find that. And I think all of that information coming together is really important. Rena: Well, that seems very clear to, you know, watching you speak, listen to you, speak that you have such a passion and genuine curiosity for this work that of course you want to read and retain because you're just so interested.
Juliette: Yeah. Thank you.
Dara: Definitely. Let's talk now about women's health. I'm sure you've worked with plenty of men over the years but was there a time and point where you were like, wow, I've seen a lot of women around the reproductive age and I need to tailor what I'm teaching or to fit wherever that woman is in their cycle?
Juliette: Yeah, absolutely. So my career started out in the suburbs of New Jersey, which is where my college was and the majority of my clientele were women in the reproductive years and people usually move out to the suburbs.
Dara: That's so true
Juliette: To have kids. So the majority of my clients were either recently postpartum or were trying to conceive, or I've had a lot of eight months along pregnant women rolling into their first time in a group fitness class, I’ve had a lot of those experiences as well. Like kudos girl, I'm gonna support you the best I can, but like maybe come by, you know, a little earlier. Um, but I started in, in that realm and quite honestly, I didn't give it, I think the credence that it deserved for many more years. I knew like the basic don't do crunches, don't do planks that kind of exercise modality. But a lot of that comes down to a very fear based approach of, you know, trying to avoid doing the wrong things versus a positive approach to try and find the right things to do.
Rena: Right. And modify. Right.
Juliette: Yeah. And also like if I'm not going to do a plank, do I just like sit here and twiddle my thumbs for 6 minutes?
Dara: You could do something else or is there other alternatives?
Juliette: So what are the more beneficial ways and are there different types of movement that are going to be more supportive to people in different times of their reproductive life?
Dara: For sure.
Juliette: So that's where I got really much more exploratory with that. There's a company that I work with called Pronatal. I cannot recommend them enough in terms of education and resources for anybody who is pre or postpartum and anybody who's interested in becoming either of those stages down the road. They're the ones who really opened my eyes to a lot of the languaging that's around women, honestly, just women at any state and the idea that there's certain right things to be doing certain wrong things to be doing.
Dara: So Pronatal is broadly revolving around exercise and fitness?
Juliette: Yeah. They're working through pre and postnatal. They've got great online resources, a great blog. Their Instagram is always fire. So they're a great resource if you are interested in knowing more about that and also getting a little bit more of an understanding about the different ways that we talk about fitness and movement for especially pregnant and recently pregnant people.
Rena: Love it. That’s a great resource. We'll definitely put info about that in our show notes and everything so people can check it out.
Dara: Yeah. And I'm sure you see, it’s one thing reading about it another thing actually working with people firsthand.
Juliette: Totally, totally. So I think one of the things that's been most interesting for me, one of the things that's informed my training philosophy the most is working with people in this subgroup because with such a specific goal of creating another human life, it forces you to come to terms with where your methods are and understanding, you know, when things are successful or when things are maybe less successful because there's a clear outcome. So it really forced me as a coach to understand that a lot more and become a lot more flexible in what I offer and what the plan was for that day, because maybe you have an eight month old who's going through a sleep regression and the last thing that you want to do right now is some hard conditioning. And maybe that's not the best thing for you right now. Maybe you are trying to conceive and you had an 80 hour work week and you forgot to cancel your personal training sessions. Now you have to go through with it anyway, because you don't want to suck up the late fee from your gym and you know, how can we still make that hour super beneficial to you without, you know, further hindering your progress towards a goal?
Dara: But that's your psychology background that I think has really been put to good use because it's one thing to be a great trainer and to, you know, have lots of knowledge and also lots of practice, but there's another thing to like be able to properly read or pick up on cues on how, like, I feel like that's the one thing Juliette, and I said this time and time again, what I love about training with you is you walk in the door and within a minute she's like, Oh, I totally know. She's like, I knew you needed this. I'm like, are you telepathic? But I don't think it's necessarily telepathy. I think it's just, you have a good read on people.
Juliette: Oh, thank you.
Dara: You can read the energy. You can read yeah the mood.
Juliette: Yeah. Well, I think it comes down to really understanding that the majority of the people that I work with and I've worked with professional athletes, I've worked with professional models and they're kind of a specific case where like their workout is largely to further a different, very specific goal. And so my training methodology with them is going to be totally different than someone who's working out to feel better in their daily life or to increases their chances of fertility or to recover from a healthy, successful pregnancy. All of those cases are going to be totally different. I think one of the things that is misrepresented in fitness is that there's the one way to train people and there's one version of successful and good workouts that it doesn't have to be max effort every time it doesn't have to be high intensity interval training every time that a lot of times good quality movement is the thing that's going to give you the majority of the health rewards of moving that you get so many more benefits from 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise than you do from 10 minutes of crazy hard burpees that you might not necessarily be serving you if you worked again, 80 hours that week, and the last thing you want to be doing right now is 10 more minutes of burpees.
Dara: But isn’t that hard for people like for people who, especially of course, I think of New York, cause I live in New York of that mindset that like, I need to maximize my time, I need to go hard because who knows how many more times this week that I can do it. Like, I'm sure you see that a lot. Some people always want to have go, go, go, hard, intense workouts. And I'm sure you...
Juliette: Absolutely
Dara: Need to educate them that's not always the best for them.
Juliette: Yes. And there are some times when there are certain days when like, yeah, let's push it, let's see what the boundary is and let's get stronger. And I'm not saying, you know, that we have to take it loosey goosey every day. But I think one of the things that I find myself asking clients a lot is how's that working for you? How is go, go, go, how is putting more pressure on yourself to do the right thing to schedule the right time to make certain things happen in a certain way when the F train is running late for my New Yorkers out there, how's that going? Is it working? Because nine times out of 10, my clients will respond and say, well, you know
Rena: Now that you ask.
Juliette: Now that you put it that way, because usually there's a reason that I've been brought in and it's usually, you know, people hire a trainer because they have something specific that they're working towards that they know they could use some outside support in, or they hire a trainer because they're coming back from injury or illness or anything like that. And it comes down to people really having to be educated about the science of why these things work the way that they do. So, like for instance, HIIT training, big fitness, I wouldn't even call it a trend anymore. I would just call it a big wave, an ocean.
Dara: It's not going anywhere I don’t think.
Juliette: It's not going anywhere. And it also has its place. So I don't want this to be like HIIT bashing with Juliet. But the reason HIIT training works for
Dara:Which is high intensity, high intensity interval training. People like me who don’t know a lot of acronyms.
Juliette: There's two ‘i’s’ in it so it's H I I T. I see it on Instagram a lot is H I T
Dara: Juliette’s much cooler than all of us. as much cool with all of us. Half the stuff she says, I'm like, what does that mean?
Juliette: So high intensity interval training is very trendy these days. And the reason that it works and the reason why people claim, you know, Oh, I lost 20 pounds in two months from it is because quite simply it does stress your body systems. And it will, for a lot of people put you into a calorie deficit, which will facilitate weight loss. However, it comes back to women's health again, because a lot of the research that's out there about HIIT training and low carb diets, a lot of it is geared around men's health and a lot of it is geared around studies.
Dara: A-men.
Juliette: A-woman.
Dara: A-woman. Oh my gosh.
Juliette: But a lot of the research that's out there is about men and actually now that they're going through and doing more research about women's health and especially female athletes, we're seeing a lot more of this now that overtraining is much more prevalent in female athletes, they actually call it the female athlete triad, which is an interesting term to say the least that overtraining and overexertion has specific hormonal problems for women that don't simply don't present for men.
Dara: I’m happy you brought that up.
Juliette: Yeah.
Dara: I don’t think it’s spoken about.
Juliette: It’s not spoken about unless you're getting diagnosed with it.
Dara: Exactly.
Juliette: So then all of a sudden you have this thing that you've never heard of and you get terrified. And it, like, pretty much just means that, like, you have to go to Barry's like twice less that week.
Dara: Which mentally can be really tough
Juliette: Especially if fitness and movement is your main form of meditation or decompression from your week. Again, sitting here as New Yorkers I think all of us know that it's a tight crowded world out there for us and for a lot of people, you know, their fitness class is one of their only forms of solace. So to have that for a lot of people taken away can be a really disempowering experience.
Rena: Well I'm sitting here squirming a little. Sounds like, so a couple of months ago, I'm a pretty serious athlete, I've done a lot of triathlons and I am very, very grateful to be doing the marathon in a week and a half. But a few months ago I went through a period where I basically, I had been training for iron man for probably two years, no break. And you know, it was helping you get through it by your hard time in my life and whatever, but no breaks and my body felt like it was breaking. I felt like I was a hundred years old. I went to a million doctors, I was in PT, nothing, and it was horrible. And finally, I ended up at, you know, a doctor, they just did a blood test and he's like, you have rhabdo. What the hell is that? So I found out, you know, it's very serious and the cure is just rest. So it was so difficult for me to do it since that's taking away my coping mechanism but I had no choice. But so I think, yeah, as you're talking about all of this, I'm like, huh, that was definitely me. But I see to bring it back to fertility, you know, I see in so many of my patients who have similar personalities, you know, type A women used to go, go going, you know, we go really hard. And one of the hardest things about fertility treatments is exercise is often restricted.
Dara: Yes. You're taking away one extra thing. I need to be on all these medications and now you’re taking away this one thing that gives me happiness.
Rena: And so it doesn't matter if you're someone that does Pilates or you're someone that does HIIT training or, you know, endurance running just the exercise and that release of dopamine and your, you know, it gives you somewhere to go. A lot of my patients say, well, that's my community too going to these fitness classes, like, what do I do? So as a trainer who specializes in this, what would you say to somebody?
Juliette: What do they do?
Rena: What do you do?
Dara: I feel like we need more research. That's the thing. People always err on my I'm sure she knows that the doctors tend to, and I get this, err on the side of caution because there isn't enough credible research out there. I think it's tough for people to be the guinea pig also like, you know, potentially...
Juliette: Absolutely.
Rena: And also you hear conflicting things too. They say, Oh, and I'll see all the time, you know, people in these, you know, fertility kind of message boards, they'll search for the doctor that says you can exercise and then they'll go to that clinic which that doesn't make sense. I mean, but you do hear conflicting things. So I guess, you know, as a trainer, right, so how you work with somebody who says, look, I really, I have to move, you know I’m going through fertility treatment, but I have to move. How can you work with me? What, and it sounds like you really tailor your program to work individually with someone and give them what they need so what would you say to somebody?
Juliette: Yeah. So, I mean, again, I think Dara and I have talked about this in depth in terms of really leaning into understanding scope of practice. So first things first, whatever my client's doctor is recommending, that's the advice that I'm going to follow because…
Dara: I appreciate that.
Juliette: I am
Rena: You want to be consistent.
Juliette: I am a fitness trainer. I am not a medical doctor. I am not here to intervene into medical decision making or medical processes or diagnoses. And as much as I'm here to support you, I'm not here to conflict with anything that anyone else has told you. The things that I will tell you is that specifically moderate exercise has always in every meta analysis that's been done, so every like hardcore research that's been done, moderate exercise leads to better hormone regulation. It leads to a healthier body composition. It leads to better fertility rates over the course of a three year study. And we can, I can link this in the show notes as well.
Dara: Sleep.
Juliette: It’s great for sleep which is highly important. So there's a lot of benefits to moderate exercise, which in my opinion, outweigh any of the potential risks. Again, it comes down to our wonderful type A woman who we love and we might be.
Dara: We can all relate in some way.
Rena: Yes.
Juliette: We can all relate in some way, but it comes down to that woman who uses it as a, an emotional outlet. And it might take it just a step too far, not for her doing anything wrong. It's not a moral failing to enjoy working out. God forbid I would be out of business, but it comes down to when is that hurting your goals rather than helping it and understanding that. So the number one thing that I would tell a client who is going through this journey would be the number one thing is to track your own recovery because you are only as well as you can recover.
Rena: So what, I mean, what does that mean? How you’re physically feeling?
Juliette: So there's a lot of different metrics that you can use, but generally speaking, you want to make sure that you're training in such a way that you're not causing so much damage that you can't then repair. So there's a few different ways to measure that my preferred way is heart rate variability. So it's similar to taking a basal body temperature where you do it first thing in the morning when you wake up.
Dara: A lot of our patients do that.
Juliette: Yep I’m hoping that there will be some people nodding their heads saying, ah, yes. It's a great measure that allows you to understand how your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning, will let you know how stressful the day before was, how stressed your body is in general, how your cardiovascular system is recovering.
Rena: Oh I didn’t realize it was retroactive.
Juliette: How much blood oxygenation you're getting. And there's really simple trackers that will allow you to do this. So Garmin makes great watches. They have one called the vivo fit that's very slim and goes with other bracelets.
Dara: And that ring?
Juliette: The ura ring, U-R-A comes highly recommended from a lot of my female athletes in terms of their heart rate tracking, because it will also take your body temperature. So it's kind of a two-for-one
Dara: And sleep they measure I believe too.
Juliette: So it's a cute little ring. So no one has to know that you're getting all this cool biohacking information. But basically all of the risk of overexercising when you're working within a fertile window comes down to you'll know your line and what your line is in terms of what crosses from moderate exercise to extreme exercise or high intensity exercise. You'll know when you hit that line because your heart rate variability will actually start to go down, meaning that your body's living in a more constantly stressed state.
Rena: So wait if your heart rate goes down…
Juliette: If your heart rate variability goes down.
Rena: Ok.
Juliette: So if there's a smaller window of how high your heart rate goes, versus how low your heart rate goes, that means that your body's in a slightly more stressed state. So that might be the day that you skip your workout. That might be the day that you choose to take the restorative yoga class instead of the hot power sculpt.
Dara: I mean, that makes it harder for you because, or you could just tailor it depending on you could give a lighter workout if you get a different reading.
Juliette: Exactly, exactly. So if I know I'm working with someone that day who's, especially their nervous system is a little bit more stressed out, we'll lighten the load. We will increase the rest intervals allowed in between things. There's a lot of ways to take, you know, whatever workout you've been doing or whatever workout that you truly enjoy and making it just more applicable to where you are right now. So understanding and being able to gauge your own intensity and recovery is the number one key, because again, moderate exercise is really, really great for health in general and I don't want to discourage people from leaning into that. At the same time, we just want to be mindful that we're not over-exerting ourselves, especially in a stressful time, right? Like we're all kind of prone towards overexertion and leaning into the things that might be…
Dara: Uncomfortable and over….yeah.
Juliette: So making sure that we're staying within that line, and again, there's a lot of different ways to measure that.
Dara: That's hard. I think, I can understand, I want to do it extra intense because I'm extra stressed. But what I talk to patients about which, you know, I think it complements exercise or fitness is sometimes too much of anything can create more inflammation and can, you know, more isn't necessarily better. It could actually work to our disadvantage.
Juliette: Yeah. Exercise is a medicine. So it's all about dosage.
Dara:I love that.
Rena: I like that too.
Dara: I’m gonna totally…
Juliette: Exercise is medicine, it’s all about dosage. So for different people, different dosages are going to work, different timing schedules are going to work. And a lot of this is either genetically determined or determined by your lifestyle. And so if your fitness is not fitting with your lifestyle, it's not fitness.
Dara: Yeah. Do you ever ask patients in terms of like where they are in their cycle?
Juliette: Yeah. So I usually ask my clients to generally speaking and my clients, God bless them because I ask the nosiest questions for a personal trainer. I'm like, what point of your cycle are you, how heavy are your periods usually.
Dara: I love that.
Juliette: Because I need to know if you're going to be more prone towards anemia. I’m like how, when was your last bowel movement? Like I am the nosiest personal trainer because all of these things really do matter. And especially for women's health. And I find one of the things that is most interesting to me is that women think that their hormonal issues or their cycle issues are not worth disclosing. And I cannot tell you how many clients that I have worked with who, you know, halfway through an intake or, you know, me having a consultation with them all of a sudden go, Oh, and by the way I have PCOS and I'm like, okay, can we elaborate on that? What's the treatment plan? How are we doing with it? You know, what are your symptomology like? Because it's different for every single patient who experiences it.
Dara: I love that you know this Juliette. Of course you know this.
Juliette: But I think one of the things that's most fascinating to me is how we tend to think of it as like an afterthought when exercise and hormonal health go hand in hand.
Rena: That is so interesting. Totally.
Juliette: Well, I think it's one of those things that also doctors, again, bless their hearts. They're very important and integral part of any sort of treatment plan. Doctors are not fully educated on how to communicate to their patients that interchange between fitness and hormonal health.
Dara: Because they probably aren't educated. They don't know.
Rena: Well I’m gonna tell you something that’s, I mean, I don't even know how you're gonna respond to this but it’s a flashback to whatever however many years ago. Right. You know, Steven, my GYN and I have PCOS and he goes, okay. And he knew I'm an athlete. He goes, okay, well, I'm going to put you on low loestrin because it has the lowest dose of hormones and you won't bleed on it. And all my athletes love this pill. So, I’ve been on that pill now for what, three years, and now I'm sitting here like, Oh my God, what is that healthy? My hormones and my athletic performance, I never even thought about this. I mean, yeah. I just liked it cause yeah, sure. I don't want to worry about bleeding if I'm doing a swim in a triathlon, great. Sign me up.
Juliette: Oh, totally, totally. And this, I mean, this happens all the time with clients of mine, but I also have a lot of clients who all of a sudden will have an unexplained weight gain, you know, somewhere in the five to 10 pound range, and then we'll talk about it. And it'll turn out that the birth control method that they've been using has either changed or they've been less than consistent with taking it on their daily schedule. And for them, it's really eye opening to understand how much that's really impacting their athletic performance, especially if they do identify as athletes.
Rena: And also, should you eat differently depending on your hormones, you know, and working out.
Juliette: So I have the best app and resource for this. There's an app fitter woman, F I T R woman.
Dara: F-I-T-R woman.
Juliette: And it's developed by a really wonderful sports research laboratory in England. And it goes through your entire cycle length and will tell you what nutrients you might be deficient in. It'll talk through at certain points in your cycle, your pain tolerance changes, which is a really cool neurological…
Dara: How could you do that? It’s not, they're not taking any blood?
Juliette: No. So if you tell them when your cycle usually happens and you track your period through that, and they're getting to the point where they're getting enough data, to be able to use AI in the next few years, to be able to really talk to you about it, but it'll talk to you about, you know, really upping your Omega three and six this week, or it'll talk to you about your pain tolerance may be higher. So this might be a good time to really push it. It's a wonderful app. I cannot recommend it enough.
Dara: People need to know about this.
Rena: I’m getting this.
Dara: As soon as we finish this.
Rena: Oh yeah.
Juliette: Yeah. So I find that it's really, really great for any of my female athletes. And it's also great to have like some license because I cannot tell you how many times I've had someone look at their app and where they are at their cycle and be like, Oh, thank God. I'm not going crazy.
Rena: Yeah it’s validating.
Dara: It gives people reassurance.
Rena: Oh yeah. I saw my patients coming to me and they say, you know, I have these symptoms, is this normal? And I didn't ever want to say anything. And I said, yes, of course. You know, and that's, you shouldn't be suffering in silence.
Juliette: Absolutely.
Rena: You know, hormones. They're a huge thing, your cycle, you know, that’s what the endocrinologists are for, you know, and you don't need to suffer in silence with, you know, these symptoms. There is a fix, it's just getting to the right person. And I think the biggest thing is, you know, as you say, your, you know, your clients are like, wait, why are you asking? And they don't like to talk about their periods or, you know, people just, there's still a sort of like shame and stigma. And that shouldn't talk about it associated with everything, but it's a huge part of our life.
Juliette: Or that it shouldn't affect you.
Rena: Right. Just keep going.
Juliette: That it shouldn't affect you, that we should learn how to just ride through it.
Dara: Hopefully come out the other side stronger.
Juliette: Yeah. And that's not necessarily the case. I always point to estrogen deeply impacts the hypothalamus, which is essentially your control center. So your estrogen levels and your progesterone levels can really impact everything from your heart rate to your ability to sweat or thermo-regulate. It can affect your mood. It can affect literally everything that's going on. So you're absolutely not going crazy because you feel a little bit more sensitive the day before your cycle. You're absolutely not going a little crazy for sweating a lot on days, 14 and 15 of your cycle.
Dara: Maybe that's why I do those crazy yoga classes and wonder why I'm sweating through my ears. It's probably the days of my cycle.
Rena: Like Like wake up soaked in sweat.
Juliette: Yeah. So a lot of this has to do with that. So for us to say that, you know, our hormones and either our autonomic nervous system, meaning all of the things that are kind of out of our control. So you know how quick we're breathing, how fast our heart is beating how much we're sweating, how much we're not sweating, how angry we are at our boyfriend for absolutely no reason at all. All of those things compared to all of those conscious things. It's really fascinating to check out because of course they're connected when you really get into it. And we as a society have a tendency to kind of break the two apart and they're deeply, deeply connected. So…
Dara: Wow.
Rena: That's so fascinating.
Dara: I feel like you need to do research.
Juliette: I mean, I’d love to.
Dara: You would be so good at it. And that's, I think that's like, I wonder where we can make that connection of making people feel confident with the recommendations and suggestions that perhaps we do need to see the research out there. It's Oh, granted of course there’s research that's done well and there is research that is not as strong. And usually, you know, when the media presents it, they're not telling us if it's a really well studied.
Juliette: If it was a study that was done on rats instead of people sometimes?
Dara: Like that.
Juliette: That's a thing that happens. And I love what you said too cause I was thinking about that too, but you actually said it - a lot of the research on exercise and I've spoken to about this because I read every Wednesday's New York times health section. A lot of the research in terms of athletes or exercise has to do with men.
Juliette: It's a simpler test space because they don't have hormonal cycles. And yet no one's doing research in hormonal cycles. But at the same time, I think we have a lot of really strong, anecdotal evidence that's coming out now. You see female athleticism rising to new heights.
Dara: Yes.
Juliette: You see Allyson Felix breaking Usain Bolt’s record for numbers of metals, one. Out there killing it. You see women in their second trimester PR-ing at track and field events.
Rena: Though I got to tell you, and I've always been an athlete, but it was not until post-pregnancy that I my game drastically increased. I have never been so fast and people are like, what the heck? And I don't know, I read that there's some pregnancy hormone you could get. And I don't know, it's a stress in my life. I don't know, but I don't think so because
Dara: You're using it to your advantage.
Rena: No, I mean, I ran cross country in high school and I'm 33 years old and I'm past my prime over here, but I'm running faster than ever. And I mean, it's wild to me.
Juliette: Yeah. So there's a lot of different factors that could be impacting that the first and foremost is that your pain tolerance is higher after any sort of prenatal postnatal journey.
Dara: So true.
Juliette: Your pain tolerance just goes up. There's a neurological switch that happens. And the evolutionary belief is that we go through it so that childbirth is not as daunting.
Dara: That's why we have more than one kid or we can have more than one kid because we forget.
Juliette: Absolutely. So your pain tolerance can get higher. On top of that there's actually a huge increase and thank you to Pronatal fitness for this there's actually a huge increase in your cardiac output, meaning that you're actually able to train at what used to feel like more intensity in about your second trimester. So it doesn't feel as hard to do what you did before. Simply because you have a higher blood volume, you have more blood plasma, you have a lot more cardiovascular support during that time.
Dara: And what about relaxing? Also some of those hormones that relax?
Juliette: So relaxing is going through your system and sticks around in your system about six to nine months after delivering a baby as well. So that stays actually in your system, which is why a lot of runners post-pregnancy are encouraged to pull back on mileage even if they're feeling really good, simply because you are more at risk of overextending at a joint tearing a muscle, et cetera, on top of the estrogen depletion that happens in postpartum. So you're more prone towards stress fractures and things like that.
Rena: I had no idea.
Dara: You need to write a book.
Rena: Why is this not more widely known?
Juliette: Yeah. So there's a lot of wild hormonal stuff that's going on in the female body. And we don't talk about it a lot.
Rena: And that also kind of irritates me because you know, there's so much pressure on women, like, okay, have a baby get back to, you know, pre-baby body, you know, get back in the gym. But now you're saying, look you actually need to be very careful because all of these things are gonna happen, why is nobody saying that?
Juliette: You actually have like a straight up different hormonal system. Like you are hormonally, a completely different person than when you walked in the gym.
Dara: And it takes time also for things to recalibrate?
Juliette: And we might recalibrate at a different set point, which is so important. Sometimes you might actually find that and this happens a lot more than people think you might find that you have better athleticism after.
Dara: I found my gait changed.
Juliette: Yes. Your hip bones will widen.
Dara: And like, I, this is nothing really to do with exercise, but the ability to wear high heels.I know this is so like who cares? But I'm really…
Juliette: But like, I care.
Dara: I do care because I used to wear, you know, walk blocks and blocks and miles in high heels. I can't do that anymore. I really do think just the shift. Something could be my hips. It makes it that much more challenging after I had kids.
Juliette: Yeah. So I mean, the angle of your pelvis changes in terms of the hip bones widening as well as the pelvis might actually shift into a different angle front to back. So you might notice pregnant women have more of an arch to their lower back, balance out the big belly in front. For a lot of women that change sticks around somewhat in their postpartum journey, how long it sticks around, who knows? But a lot of women will find that not to even mention, not even to get into the pelvic floor changes.
Dara: That's a whole nother topic.
Juliette: That's a whole other thing that’s so important. All of those things are so impactful because it is in so many different ways, not the body that you had before. And that doesn't mean that it's better or worse, but it's worth getting to know. And it's worth getting to know what works for you now and relation to what worked for you before, what maybe you didn't have the time or the energy or the interest to pay attention to. And so I love working with women in this window from trying to conceive through their prenatal journey, through their postpartum journey, because I find that it can be a really wonderful opportunity for self-realization and understanding who they are and where they fit into the world and where they fit within their own family. And…
Rena: I love that.
Juliette: Yeah. So it's a really interesting time. And again, like working with clients who are either struggling with fertility or are starting to consider starting their family soon, it's such an interesting journey to really understand that shift in priorities, that changes. And it's very holistic to the whole lifestyle that when you start to frame your life around that desire and when you start to really especially verbalize that that's something that you want, it will change so much of your behavior-making that so much of the behaviors that you choose and the things that you decide to either pursue or not pursue, it just becomes bigger than you. It just becomes bigger than just what you're feeling like doing that exact day. And it's a lot more intuitive to have a larger scale perspective. And I think that's a real gift and it's something that we don't talk about enough.
Rena: I love that you said that.
Dara: A-woman to that. Why do we say amen? I'm saying a-woman. Juliette, you're brilliant. So I have visions and hopes and dreams for what you will become. You are super young, but I want to hear from you, what do you want to do? You have so much knowledge. You need to do something. I mean…
Rena: Start a revolution.
Dara: Let's start with, I want you to open up I want you to talk about it. Cause I know we've had this discussion. I'm like you are meant to have a foundation of people working together for something greater. So talk to me, cause I know you do have some visions. I have visions too, hopefully I'll plant those seeds in it so you can, you know, to help move you forward. But…
Juliette: Yeah, so right now we're really focused on building out a holistic team of practitioners who are going to be in conversation, everybody from physical therapists to nutritionists, to social workers, everybody constantly in communication and really supporting whoever our client or patient or whatever term friend is that you want to use for it. Because I have found consistently over the past few years that the more information that we're able to share and the more we're able to actively work as a team, the happier and more successful everything is. So if your trainer is able to talk to your physical therapist and say, Hey, I noticed X, Y, and Z. And when your nutritionist is able to speak to your trainer and say, hey, this is the goal we're really working towards right now. It's so much easier to help people get the results that they want and help people really feel their most comfortable embodied, empowered selves. So right now I'm really focused on that as well as expanding my coaching to being, not just in person, as much as I love working in New York City and as much as I love right now, I currently get to go into all my lovely friends’ and clients’ homes and work out with them. And a lot of times there's like small babies there that I get to ooo and ahh over. And it's amazing or there's little girls.
Dara: Like my kids she's seen before.
Juliette: Oh yeah, I have practiced handstands with your daughters. I really love that aspect. But I also have a lot of friends who have moved and left the city and are missing these kinds of supports and missing having this kind of expertise around them. So I'm opening up and starting to do a lot more online coaching and a lot of coaching from distance because anything is better than trying to do it on your own. And my goal is to be there and support as many people through whatever their life is, bringing to them and helping them find the appropriate strategies and the things that are going to help them feel their happiest.
Dara: And that's great for our listeners abroad or, you know, listeners that are not just in Manhattan to be able to have access to Juliette's greatness. It would be great. It'd be wonderful to have that. I think there is definitely a need.
Juliette: Yeah. Absolutely.
Dara: And I want you to get on that before anyone else does.
Rena: I love, but I just have one more question.
Juliette: Absolutely.
Rena: I feel a lot of my patients, they say, okay, you know, I'm a really big into Barry’s or soul cycle or, you know, any of this sort of city studio, but is that affecting my fertility? So if you, you know, and of course, as you said, look, I'm not a medical professional. I say, defer to your doctor. You need to go with what they say but what would you say from a trainer perspective, if someone comes to you and they say, okay, I do Barry’s 5 times a week. Is that affecting my fertility? Could that be why I'm not getting pregnant?
Juliette: I would first and foremost again, defer to the doctor, but then I would also do a deeper dive and see,
Rena: Right, I mean, every case is so different, are you eating appropriately?
Juliette: Absolutely, absolutely. I would do a deeper dive into blood work and encourage the medical team to evaluate, you know, how cortisol levels are, how volatile is your cycle affecting the rest of your hormones? I find that a lot of my clients who say that, and especially clients who are high volume in terms of their workouts, meaning that they work out a lot. I have very irregular or completely absent cycles, which is obviously not helping. So what I always like to remind people is, again, you should only be training as well as you can recover because otherwise you're setting yourself up for either injury or a larger issue.
Rena: So it goes back to the heart rate in the ring or the bracelet or your heart rate.
Juliette: So going back into that, and again, like if you love Barry’s for the energy, if you love soul cycle for the music, go, go, but understand that, you know, there might be a time when they tell you to add one more, turn to your resistance knob. You maybe fudge it a little. They might tell you to grab a set of heavy weights that day, or you might do one fewer set than they tell you to. And you don't owe it to that trainer. You don't owe it to that studio. You don't owe it to your Instagram followers.
Dara: I'm so happy you say that.
Juliette: You don't owe it to your crop top, you don’t owe it to any of this to do more than what's going to serve you, your, family your life.
Dara: And listen to yourself. I think that's the hardest part is, a lot of times, you know, we're competitive. If they can do it, we can do it, or this is what she says I need to do. This is what I need to do. But you know yourself more than anyone else. And if something doesn't feel right, like I, that's one thing which I love about Juliette is like, I feel very comfortable being totally honest, like that doesn't feel good or something's off. And like, what I like about Juliette is she won't be like, you're not doing it. You're like, let's come up with another strategy and see if this, you know, you're really good at that.
Rena: I think you are so good at reframing, which is, you know, very psychological. Just reframing things I love.
Dara: It goes back to psychology.
Juliette: I know finally, that degree pays off. Um, but yeah, so I think that's super important to understand in terms of you are the expert in your body. And I think we talk about this a lot in other hormonal health ways where, you know, either patients have been saying they've been having issues and having trouble, getting doctors to listen or getting family members to listen and take their concerns seriously that you are the expert in your own body.
Rena: And you're your own best advocate too.
Juliette: Absolutely. So really all I'm here to do is to provide you with more tools and information, to be able to learn more about yourself, whether that is, you know, if you're running in from the office for our session and you're super lit up, cause you had this crazy meeting just before, and you're so mad at your boss, I may make you sit in a corner and like breathe for three minutes before you're to do anything else, because that might be the only time that I can get you to tune back into what's actually going on in your body. Especially in modern life. We get to the point where we turn away from our own physiological cues. We’re like everybody drop your shoulders, take the tongue off your roof of your mouth, take a big exhale all the way out. And I can say that pretty much any point in the day and at least one person in the room will be like,
Dara: Oh wow, I've been holding it.
Juliette: So we get really used to turning off this physiological cues because they're no longer convenient for us. You know, I still have four more hours at the office. I still have an hour and a half on this plane ride. I still have, you know, 10 more minutes on this Netflix show, all of these things kind of clue in, but the more we become able to be attuned to any physiological cue, whether that's, you know, how the squat feels in my body today, the easier it is going to be for us to pay attention to the other physiological cues of, I might be too tired to work out today and that's okay. Or maybe I need to eat a little bit more protein because I'm noticing that I'm not that satiated after my meals. So it's just practicing that skill of understanding your own physiology and being able to pay attention to the messages that your body's giving you.
Dara: You have such a great combination of medical science
Juliette: I’m going to feel so great after this podcast. sound great. I'm going to feel so good about myself
Dara: You should.
Rena: You're always the one serving other people and motivating them
Dara: And talking and asking questions
Rena: And You need to get that back for you. So we are here to give you self care so you can care for others. You need that.
Dara: But I was gonna say, you're perfect. Great combination of the No of the science, but also the soul and the holistic. And I think that's, it shouldn't be one or the other. It can bleed and blend within each other. And I think that is super critical.
Juliette: Absolutely. Cause I think none of us are one dimensional people that there's a part of me that like wants to understand the science. And there's a part of me that like believes that like mercury in retrograde might explain why I'm late that day.
Rena: Totally. Mercury in retrograde explains everything.
Juliette: So I think that there's always a place for the evidence and there's always a place for a little bit of, you know, the spiritual or a little bit more of the softer side of things and understanding that, you know, the soft skills matter and understanding that, you know, sometimes it's healthier to take the night off from your workout and go cuddle on the couch with someone you love because you had a tough day and sometimes it's worth it to get off the couch and go move around a little because you haven't moved a lot in the past three days. And that would probably be really good for you. So again, it's all highly personal and there's a lot of resources out there even if they're not widely talked about to support people and figuring that out for themselves. And the other biggest thing I can always say is that there are a lot of qualified coaches out there who are dying to work with people who want to support their health in a really holistic way. And any coach that you approach would be psyched to work with you.
Rena: I love that.
Dara: Speaking of resources, how can we get in touch with you? What's the best way to get in touch with you?
Juliette: The best way to get in touch with me is probably my website. It's my name,
Rena: We’ll put all this in our show notes too.
Juliette: Should be pretty easy to find, but that's usually the best way to get in touch with me. It goes straight to my email. I pinky promise. Um, so if you have anything that you want to know more about, if you want referrals to friends or people in your area, if you just want to ask me what the name of that app was, again, I'm happy to answer that as well. FITR woman is a great one. The other resource I always like to plug is a book by Dr. Stacy Sims called Roar. And it's about training for a women's physiology. So if you are a self identified athlete and movement is super important to you, this book is really, really wonderful from a exercise scientist and nutrition researcher. It goes through everything from how women's bones are built differently from men's to how our hormonal cycles affect our fitness. So if this is something that you're looking for, more information on the book can get pretty dense, but it's really easy to read and it's chock full of good stuff. So I always recommend that as well, if you're looking for more info.
Dara: So the way we always end our podcasts is we spring one more question that you had no idea that we were going to ask.
Juliette: Okay.
Dara: You can totally do it. You're gonna be fine.
Juliette: Good.
Dara: We like to ask you what you're grateful for, whether it's in general today at this very moment, what are you grateful for?
Juliette: I think the thing I'm most grateful for is what we keep coming back to in this podcast of all things is the concept of support that it's, everyone is in this together and everyone's doing the best that they can. So as much as we can support each other in whatever we're doing, that's the most important thing. And I think it's easy to get caught up and think that we are all on our own out there. And we're the only one doing this. And I think getting to connect with wonderful people like you and understand how much we can all really work together and how much more we can really achieve when we do that is something that I'm really grateful for it and something that I really love connecting with. So I'd say support.
Rena: I love that.
Dara: It's a good one.
Rena: So good. Dara?
Dara: Oh my gosh. So much to be grateful for. I was going to say something along the lines of, of support, but like you, like, you are a gem Just the idea of having people, having a support system and I, you know, I have great friends and, you know, family, but having people that have come into our life later on who really you could connect with, who also have a passion for learning. And I think that's, maybe that's what I'm grateful for is finding someone who finds their passion, which makes you want to learn more about what you're passionate about. So thanks for giving me the drive to find my passion and to keep wanting to learn more. Cause I love what you said is the people who are the beginners think they know everything when they're learning, but it's the people who know or have that content and understanding always want to learn more. And that's not to say that I know everything, but I would love to always, there's always more to learn and you've helped to teach me that. Rena, what about you?
Rena: Same vein. You know, I hate to be cliche, but yeah, same, you know, meeting other people that inspire me to want to learn more. You know, I love learning and growing. I mean, isn't that what life is? And meeting somebody says, Oh my gosh, I knew nothing about this. Now let me go look it up and research and meeting other, you know, similar like-minded women who kind of understand and are also working to better, you know, life for women. I think that's amazing. So grateful for all those things.
Dara: People are going to love you and we definitely need to get you back on down the road.
Juliette: We can do the whole pelvic floor thing.
Dara: Sleep, pelvic floor, you name it. Well, thanks for being here, Juliette.
Juliette: Thank you.
Dara: Thank you so much for listening today. And always remember, practice gratitude. Give a little love to someone else and yourself. And remember, you are not alone. Find us on Instagram @fertility_forward. And if you're looking for more support, visit us at and tune in next week for more Fertility Forward.

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