This past weekend, I attended a Third Age Fitness certification course. Third Age being a euphemism for ‘senior citizen’ or ‘older adult’.
Given that (1) I train a number of ‘above average aged’ clients, (2) several of my regular group fitness participants suffer from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (3) my parents are on the cusp of 70
and (4) my hubby and I will ourselves be classified as ‘third age’ sooner, rather than later, I thought that picking up some tricks and tips for teaching and training older adults would be a prudent thing to do.
We talked a lot about the physical infirmities associated with aging and how to keep older adults safe while exercising. We focused on important areas to stretch and strengthen aging bodies. We addressed the affects of many common medications on performance. And of course, we brainstormed about how to make our group fitness classes more welcoming to our older participants. (Check out this great guest post from AlexandraFunFit for specific tips for teaching seniors fitness classes)
For me, though, the most enlightening component of the course was a discussion about the reasons older adults attend group fitness classes.
Older adults are typically not there to get ‘abs of steel’ or ‘great guns’. Nor do they care about ‘personal bests’ or how they’ll look in their bathing suit next summer.
Seniors top reasons for participating in group fitness classes?
- to socialize with other same-aged adults
- to improve their ability to perform daily living tasks
- to have fun and learn something new
This discussion got me thinking about how older adults are really not that different from younger adults. When I returned to fitness after the birth of my first child, my reasons for attending group fitness classes were exactly the same. Of course, I also desired to see the reappearance of my pre-pregnancy body , but just getting baby and I out of the house and into the company of others seeking healthy lifestyle changes was paramount.
I too craved adult-interaction, laughter and information. Strengthening my body to prepare for the ever-increasing workload to come (babies grow and as such, are a great source of progressive resistance training).
In addition to informing me about teaching the older members of my classes, this workshop was a great reminder to me that my job as a group fitness instructor isn’t just about helping people transform their bodies.
It’s also about creating a community, fostering improvements in daily living, entertaining and education. In short, helping people to transform their lives!
Do you participate in group fitness classes?
What are your primary reasons for doing so?