Until March 2020, Denise Yeats had a successful events company with exhibitions and conferences planned for clients that included the WWF and Parkinson’s UK. When the pandemic hit, and events were canceled, Denise found that as her company was a limited one, she wasn’t entitled to financial assistance from the Government.
To survive financially Denise drew on savings. To survive mentally as her livelihood disappeared, the 53-year-old endurance athlete who lives in Cricklewood, north London cycled around Regent’s Park, did open water swimming at Teddington and the Serpentine, and ran.
As a woman going through the early stages of menopause, she noticed the need to adapt how she trained, and the combination of the loss of events business and the menopause led Denise to re-evaluate and reinvent her work. She retrained as a sports coach and now trains women who are going through menopause. She also retrained as an Ironman Certified Coach.
Denise said, “2020 was a really tough year, so with no business coming in I volunteered locally and walked a neighbour’s dog, but it was being able to go out on my bike and do open water swimming that kept me strong.”
“The pandemic was a scary time professionally and financially, but good has come from it with a new focus and business. The menopause meant I had to refine the way that I train as established methods no longer worked and injuries became more common. Then, when a friend asked me to train her, initially I was unsure, but she encouraged me to gain the qualifications and set up as a coach.”
“As women going through menopause, it’s important to remember that our bodies are changing and we’re starting to lose power. It’s not our endurance, that’s always there, more so in women than men. We need to tune up the power side of things. It’s important not to give up and let the menopause beat you, but to adapt how you train.”
Denise has also devised a 24-hour solo swim and cycle (aquabike) endurance challenge that she will undertake in June in Greater London to raise funds for Carers UK and Carers Scotland. What started in 2000 as a dare with a friend to run the London Marathon has since led Aberdeen-born Denise to compete in marathons, triathlons, and a half Ironman. There was also an 800-mile three-week self-supported cycle challenge through the Andes from Argentina to Chile and many open water swimming events in Scotland.
Speaking of the 24-hour solo challenge for Carers UK and Carers Scotland, Denise continued, “After years spent creating challenge events for charities, I devised the 24-hour solo aquabike event to thank Carers UK and Carers Scotland. The menopause sports coaching is going well, and it’s thanks to Carers UK and Carers Scotland that I still have an events company, as in 2021 the charity hired me to organise their conferences. These were done virtually using new technology that brought together carers and speakers from around the country.”
“The virtual conferences may have helped to keep my events business going, but it was more than that, as speaking with the carers the charity support had a massive impact, and that’s why I’ll do a sponsored 24-hour aquabike.”
“Swimming and cycling on my own for 24-hours will be an unrelenting physical and mental challenge, but after 24-hours it’s finished. Being a carer doesn’t finish after 24 hours and without support it can be lonely and scary. There are no medals and often very little recognition for the important role that carers have in families and in society. Having met so many people during the virtual conferences their love for the person they care for and their selflessness, strength, and kindness were so obvious. Thankfully there are people who care, and Carers UK and Carers Scotland, to help support these remarkable individuals.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Quote from Giovanna Andrade, Denise’s first client, “Denise, will you coach me? Those words have genuinely changed my life. Denise has provided me with a holistic approach to training from nutrition to age-related peri-menopausal issues. With Denise’s help, I discovered how to see victory in every stroke on the bike. Most important of all, I found the joy that I was seeking, the confidence to simply try, the desire to try many times, and get it wrong many times, until one day I get it right.”
Quote from Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK, “Denise’s support and expertise were invaluable as we navigated the virtual world of event delivery. She enabled Carers UK to engage with carers at a time when they needed support more than ever. We are delighted Denise has chosen Carers UK and Carers Scotland as the beneficiaries of her amazing aquabike challenge, her challenge will make life better for carers.”
SOURCE The Office of Denise Yeats