Women In Wellness: Jana Barrett On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Wanda Malhotra

Wanda Malhotra
Authority Magazine
9 min readMay 18, 2024

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Teach me that female and male bodies are vastly different and most things in our modern world are set up for men.

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jana Barrett.

Jana is all about exercising to feel strong, confident and powerful and to move with freedom, pain free for as long as we possibly can.

Jana is a certified TACFIT Instructor, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Qualified Personal Trainer and a Mobility Alchemist.

Jana helps athletic women over 40 transition from exercise that leaves them either broken, burnt out or bored into a new way of training that’s more aligned with their stage of life so they can age with strength, confidence and grace for all of life without sacrificing the challenge, thrill and joy.

Jana has almost a decade of experience. Her clients get strong and powerful using exercise and movement that is intuitive and suits their bodies, especially as they are transitioning through menopause.

Jana has discovered & mastered ancient warrior training with steel mace & clubbells and she now helps other women unleash their feminine warrior. She believes that every woman deserves to feel strong, confident and invincible!

Jana is a mother of three children and lives in the beautiful New Zealand. She loves all things outdoors and is a keen (but not always very good) surfer.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I was a full time mum to three children for almost a decade. I loved it but my body started to fall apart. Going through 3 pregnancies and taking care of small humans was seriously taking its toll on me. I was always in pain, my back was sore and I felt unfit. When my youngest was 2 years old, I said enough is enough and hired my first personal trainer. Within 3 months, the difference was incredible. I felt strong not only physically but mentally too. This inspired me to qualify as a trainer so I can help other women and mums to feel strong and powerful.

I was mainly lifting weights at that time and I started to get bored … barbells, dumbbells felt very masculine to me and I didn’t like the constant focus on performance. I wanted to exercise in a more feminine way while still building strength. I discovered steel mace training 3 years ago and I never looked back. Never did I think that I can exercise in a way that is a potent mashup of dance, martial arts, strength training and yoga with an edgy warrior vibe. I have never felt so strong, powerful and badass until I learned how to wield the steel mace. Now I teach women around the world how to train with the steel mace like feminine warriors — in sync with their bodies, cycles and hormones so they can become strong, powerful, invincible and enjoy living their lives to the fullest.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I never knew that I was going to end up being a coach for women over 40. In my career, I coached men and women ranging from teens to people in their 80s. And then one day, I looked at my clients and 90% of them were women over the age of 40. Why? Because so few coaches understand how women need to be trained and what it feels like to live in a perimenopausal or menopausal body. What it is like to grow, birth and nurture babies. What it feels like to have monthly cycles and how challenging it is for many women to go through perimenopause and menopause. I get it because I have lived through it. Women know I understand, they can share anything with me and I know how to train the miraculous female body so it can be strong and age like a fine wine.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started as a coach, I desperately tried to be like my male colleagues — basically to fit in with the gym bros. I thought that deadlifting 1.5 times my bodyweight was a good idea. I thought that I had to constantly up my best lifts and push my body hard all the time. Oh boy, how wrong I was! And my body let me know — with aches, pain, injuries, exhaustion and a total burn out. These days, I couldn’t care less about performance. All I want from my training is to get me strong for life and for old age. I’m not training to be skinny, to have a six pack or to lift a certain weight. I’m training for strong muscles and bones, pain free movement and the ability to surf for hours until I’m an old wrinkly grandma.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

For far too long, women have tried to mold themselves into men’s world and this applies to exercise too. Women don’t know how to train their bodies intuitively and in sync with their hormones but rather push their bodies all the time. This leaves women either broken, burnt out or bored. I have a vision of the feminine warrior — the fierce, strong and powerful woman who honors her cycle and femininity. I want to educate women on how miraculous their bodies are, how to train in sync with their hormones while busting the male-centric fitness myths.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1 . Learn how your body works within the monthly cycle and what your hormones need in terms of nutrition and exercise. I used to train on a six or twelve week cycle. Well, that was definitely designed for a man. A training cycle for a woman needs to be 28–30 days long with adjustments in intensity to allow for different hormonal stages of her cycle. Very few coaches do this and it is harming women.

2 . If you are over 40 and not doing regular mobility training, you are setting yourself up for painful aging. Mobility is the most potent way to healthy and strong joints, quality of movement and pain free healthy life. Your ability to get in and out of the car easily, to get up from a chair and walk down the stairs will greatly impact your aging and what kind of life you will live. I didn’t understand this until recently but now I know that doing mobility is like saving up for retirement and old age by making small daily deposits.

3 . Cultivate your lean muscle and fight for it fiercely. No one wants to become a frail old woman yet most women over the age of 60 cannot lift a 10 pound bag. Your muscles are the organ of longevity and maintaining a basic level of strength is vital for women. I’m not telling you to rush to the nearest gym and sign up. Strength training can come in many different forms and doing some squats and push up at home is often enough. I strength train so I can do anything I want and never miss out on an adventure. I want to be able to go for a hike, do a few hours of gardening, surf and carry my own groceries without injuring myself. And for that, I need a certain amount of strength.

4 . Exercise is a potent weapon against mental health issues. Everyone will hit rough times in their lives — I went through an awful divorce at 40 which caused my mental health to suffer. I developed anxiety and I was feeling depressed. Exercise was the one thing that really helped me to get back to feeling good again. My training was a time where I could focus on me only, and have time when I didn’t think about lawyers and the impact of the divorce on my children. It was my time to ‘clean out the cobwebs’, to refocus, to get prospective. People should not underestimate exercise, even just walking a few times a week, as a powerful mental health enhancer.

5 . Exercise should not be a chore or something you have to do. It should be something you get to do — a celebration of your incredible body and what it’s capable of. Find an exercise that you enjoy — strength training doesn’t have to be about barbells and gyms only. It can look like a zumba class, a run or a surf. Life is too short to do exercises that are boring and don’t bring you joy. And find your reason for exercising. For me this is vibrant, healthy ageing and thriving at any age.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

A female centric fitness — with focus on hormones, cycles and the exercise modalities that suit the female body in different parts of the cycle. Completely abandoning exercise as a way to lose weight but rather as a way to thrive and age well.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

1. I wish someone taught me how my body works — to explain to me my cycle, which hormones are dominant in which phase and how to eat, train, fast and rest at different times of the month

2. Teach me that female and male bodies are vastly different and most things in our modern world are set up for men.

3. To take ego out of exercise and forget performance. When I’m 80 years old, I will not care how much I lifted when I was 30. All I’m going to care about is having a body that is strong, mobile and doesn’t hurt.

4. I wish someone taught me to listen to my body rather than override the whispers all that time. I wish I knew more about my hormones and cycle and rested when my body asked for rest. The body is whispering to us all the time — through tiredness, aches, tension but we do not listen. We push and push and pay for it with bad PMS, heavy periods, exhaustion, infertility and awful symptoms when we are in perimenopause and menopause. I’m hopeful that more and more women will teach their daughters to listen and attune to their bodies.

5. That mobility is the most important exercise for longevity and healthy aging. So many people live in chronic pain and this is largely avoidable. Our modern lifestyle is forcing us to sit down for long periods of time, to stare at computers, to drive everywhere. Mobility training is the perfect antidote to all of this and it will give you a pain free life. I wish more people knew this because I talk to people in pain every single day.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health — I feel that it is difficult to stay well in this fast paced technological world. We are not moving our bodies much and we are losing touch with nature. If people moved more and spent more time outside, there would be a lot less suffering.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

You can check out my website and my social channels. You can access freebies on my website if you would ike to learn more about mobility training and how to train in sync with your hormones.

Website

https://www.jana-barrett.com/

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jana.barrett.1804/

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/jana_movement_coach/

Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/themidlifemovementforwomen

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com .

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Wanda Malhotra
Authority Magazine

Wellness Entrepreneur, Lifestyle Journalist, and CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living.