I did CycleMapping for 30 days and this was the biggest thing I learned

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Jennis CycleMapping is a brand-new training programme that gives you daily fitness sessions mapped to where you are in your unique menstrual cycle. The big idea is that by working with your hormones and female physiology you'll enjoy bigger fitness benefits, more energy across your cycle and reduced cycle symptoms. 

Sounds good, right? But does it actually work in practice? We chat to six CycleMappers from across the country to see what they discovered after just 30 days on the programme.

I workout more across the month now

Katy Curran, 36, from Glasgow was a bit sceptical when she first started CycleMapping.

“I’d read Period Power and Roar and thought the principles sounded really good on paper, especially for an elite athlete like Jess. But I just wasn’t convinced it would make that much of a difference to an average Jane like me. I guess you could say I was an optimistic sceptic.

“Before I started CycleMapping, I would probably do HIIT three times a week and try to go really hard. Sometimes that would feel great, sometimes I would feel exhausted and annoyed because I couldn’t push it.“

With CycleMapping, because the programme recommends different sessions to suit your menstrual phase and mood, I find that on balance I end up working out more across my cycle than I usually would. 

“On a bad period or pre-menstrual day, for example, where I’d normally do nothing because I feel so shitty, because the sessions suit how I feel, I end up choosing an energy-lifting yoga or rage-releasing run and it motivates me to move.”

Over my first 30 days of CycleMapping, there were probably only two days where I did nothing at all, compared to probably 15 or 16 pre CycleMapping

“Even on rest days, because there are options for active stretch sessions or quick yoga flows, I end up doing something active - where before I would probably do nothing at all.”

“Over my first 30 days of CycleMapping, there were probably only two days where I did nothing at all, compared to probably 15 or 16 days pre CycleMapping.

The other initial comment, made by my husband, was that I looked leaner and more toned after the first month. If anything, that was probably down to the fact that I was doing more than I usually would; I was adding in LISS and yoga, so getting in more variety; plus I was front-loading my HIIT and strength in my follicular phase to make the most of the muscle gains there.”

My hormonal headaches have almost completely gone

For Rachel Carey, 36, CycleMapping was an attempt to alleviate her hormonal headaches, but the extra motivation to train has been a happy bonus…

“I used to get the most horrendous headaches during my pre-menstrual phase and ovulation, which would mean I couldn’t exercise and I’d have to take A LOT of painkillers to get through the day.

“Since CycleMapping I’ve noticed that the hormonal heaviness and fugginess I used to have for pretty much two weeks a month has gone and it’s really rare for me to get the headaches.

“When it comes to my exercise regime, I used to try to workout 4-5 times a week, but I’d often go hard for a few days, feel really knackered, then feel so bad about having two days off that I’d double up on sessions the next day.

I’ve noticed that the hormonal heaviness and fugginess I used to have for pretty much two weeks a month has gone and it’s really rare for me to get the headaches

“I was so obsessed with ticking off every workout in my plan that I wouldn’t do what’s best for my body and it would be a vicious cycle of overdoing it and crashing. Now my mindset has completely changed. In my follicular phase I find it easier to get the hard sessions done, but I’m totally fine with switching to things like LISS and power yoga during Luteal.

“Before CycleMapping I’d previously dismiss those types of workout for being pointless, but now it’s clicked. I can feel the shift in energy levels, I can feel how they really reflect my motivation and I’m amazed by how strong they make me feel.

“I’ve been CycleMapping for four full cycles now and I’m so much more consistent with my training and definitely do more because I enjoy it more. Rather than working out because I want to be thin, I do it because I want to maintain this nice feeling – and it’s a happy bonus that I'm getting fitter and stronger.”

I can lift heavier and run faster!

For Natalie Davis*, 29, it’s the strength and performance gains that have really stood out.

"I was really attracted to the idea that by working in line with your physiology as a woman it’s possible to make bigger training gains and almost hack your cycle. I also wanted to see if CycleMapping would help me work out more consistently during my cycle. I normally can’t work out at all during my period because I’m so bloated and tired.

"So far, I’ve noticed that during follicular my recovery is super quick, I feel stronger and I really do feel like I can lift heavier. I don’t know if it’s the mental feeling of knowing I can lift strong or my mood change, but I've gone from a 20kg hip thrust to 110kg in a month and I’m running 20% faster.“

I've gone from a 20kg hip thrust to 110kg in a month and I’m running 20% faster

"In my Luteal phase, the sessions switch to longer steady state and LISS, with the high intensity stuff peppered in, and on my period, I usually choose active rest sessions or LISS. Although I can’t say that I always like it, working out on my period is definitely more manageable and my period bloat has definitely improved.“

"I love the fact that it’s very science based. That’s really reassuring and I love the fact that you can combine Jennis sessions with your own workouts.”

My cycle reduced from 45 days to 30 days

Charlotte Mathis*, 32, from Bristol started using the plan after being diagnosed with oligomenorrhea (AKA infrequent periods).

“I was really interested in CycleMapping because I wanted a natural way to reduce my cycle length while getting fitter at the same time. Across lockdown my cycle had gone crazy and I wouldn’t get my period for up to 50 days at a time, so my main goal was to get my period cycle back in check.

“I’d been sticking to a regular fitness plan for a while, but I was finding that the more I exercised, the further apart my periods were getting, so I thought I’d give CycleMapping a go.

“I love the cadence of the workouts in each phase and the fact that rest days are plotted in there too. My favourite type of exercise is yoga and lower intensity sessions, so it was great to learn that there are certain times in my cycle when I can get gains from those types of workouts.

I was amazed when my period arrived after 30 days of following the plan. It felt really good to actually celebrate my period

“I also found that I moved on days when historically I would have avoided doing anything and my cramps eased off after every single session.

“I thought it would take a good few months to see any sort of difference, so I was amazed when my period arrived after 30 days of following the plan. It felt really good to actually celebrate my period.“

"Over the last few months I’ve stopped being so diligent with it and the length has gone back up to 45-50 days, so I started again and it’s gone back down to 33 days.”

My hormonal insomnia has stopped

Hannah Lewis*, 31, originally sought out CycleMapping because she was looking for a cure for PMS pains and insomnia.

“Ever since I was about 20 I’d experience excruciating abdominal pain for about 10 days a month, where I’d wake at 3am crying from the pain, then not be able to get back to sleep.

“I’d try and Google what was causing it and everything I found told me I had a psychological disorder. It was my sister who first made the connection. She was really worried about my mental state and also Googling to find answers, when she found a news story that suggested it could be to do with my period.

“I’d never made the connection between my periods and symptoms, so I spent six months reading everything I could around the subject. I started tracking my cycle and trying to spot patterns and I applied different suggestions, but I never felt fully confident in what I was doing.

Before Jennis, I’d constantly push myself as hard as I could – even when my body said no

"Jennis is the first tool that has really helped me track my period and has completely changed my approach to training. Before Jennis, I’d constantly push myself as hard as I could with HIIT, powerlifting and running – even when my body said no. Now I’ve started focusing my strength and HIIT runs in my follicular phase. Then, in my luteal, I keep in some strength, but I add in LISS, stretching and yoga. Instead of pushing myself to go hard every day, my sessions adapt with my cycle and I can feel the difference.

"After 30 days of CycleMapping, my insomnia definitely reduced and I didn’t feel as agitated as I usually would in my premenstrual phase.  After 3 months I’d say that the insomnia has completely gone. I don’t have cravings like I used to and my PMS pain and depression - where I used to feel that everything is wrong in the world - has disappeared.

"I really think that my hormones were completely fu*ked and that I needed to listen to my body to heal them.

I’m definitely more kind to myself

For Zoe Gower-Jones, 40, from Penarth, the programme means she listens to her body rather than punishing it

“I’ve been CycleMapping for two months now and I can definitely see and feel the difference. I am also so much less hard on myself when my body says no.

“Where before I would usually push through and still try and hit it hard when my body was really tired, I have the confidence to ease off, knowing that I’ll be able to push it again in my Follicular phase and probably get more gains by doing so.

“The other thing is that I no longer compare my progress week to week. I am really results driven and would previously beat myself up if I couldn’t hit a run time or lift as heavy from one week to the next.

“Now I compare my progress month to month because I understand that one week of my cycle has a completely different hormonal profile to the next.”

Find out more about how CycleMapping can work for you here

*Some Mappers’ names have been changed 

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