Why over 40 women make the best personal training clients (for me)

When I first started working as a personal trainer in a public facility I trained whoever my supervisor asked me to.

Young (13 year old Irish dancer training for the Canadian nationals), old (75 year old grandmother wanting to keep up with her grandkids), women (new-to-the-weight room cardio junkies) and men (out of shape weekend warriors). Whatever their goals, I trained them all.

For many of them, I was not the trainer they needed.

Our fitness perspectives and life experiences didn’t mesh. I didn’t get them. They didn’t get me. Clients came and went. Some met their goals. Some didn’t. Some found other trainers. Some disappeared off the face of the earth (or at least from the gym 😉 ).

Those that have stuck with me over the years (and through my evolution as a personal trainer) are members of a very specific demographic; all are women over the age of 40.

In fact, 22 of the 24 clients I  train regularly are over 40 women. Women who have sought me out to be their trainer as a consequence of attending my group fitness classes, a friend’s referral or seeing me training other over 40 women in the gym.

Why the change? I believe that personal training clients are attracted to trainers they perceive as having similar values and life experience. Trainer who will understand their perspective while motivating and encouraging them towards their fitness and health goals.

For me, over 40 women make the best personal training clients because;

  • They’re in it for the long haul. Let’s face it; older women often have more disposable time and income than their younger counterparts. Both of which are required for a successful personal training relationship. They also don’t expect results in a month and aren’t training to fit into a wedding dress or vacation bikini (although many of them rock theirs!)
  • They value function over aesthetics. While still wanting to look their best, they don’t worry about 6-pack abs or buns of steel. They understand the functional benefits of lifting weights and celebrate being able to do more challenging work over time.
  • They’re quick to identify non-scale victories. Better sleep, better sex (personal trainers are kind of like therapists; we talk about everything with our clients!), fewer aches and pains upon waking, more energy, and better range of motion are just a few of the many non-weight related benefits my clients spontaneously report to me.
  • They rarely cancel because something better came along. They know that there IS nothing better than a good session with their personal trainer! They prioritize their own health and well-being and enjoy the hour we have to work together towards their goals.
  • They love to learn and ask lots of questions. My clients, like me, are almost all women who’ve discovered strength training a bit later in their lives. When I ask them to do something, more often than not, they challenge me and ask why. What muscles am I using? Where should I be feeling this exercise? How will it help me reach my goals? Education is one of my favourite parts of the job and they frequently give me opportunity to share information and knowledge.
  • They’re not intimidated by the free weights section of the gym. Indeed, many of the young men grunting and groaning in the squat rack are young enough to be their sons!

The two clients who aren’t over-40 women? One is close (but I won’t rush her) and the other, an over-70 male who shares many of the attributes of my female clientele (without the extra X chromosome…’atta boy, John!’). I love training them just as much as my over 40 women, despite their respective youth and gender 😉

Are you an over 40 woman looking for an experienced and knowledgable over 40 personal trainer? Why not try online personal training with fitknitchick? I’d love to help YOU reach your health and fitness goals!

Do you consider similarity in age and life experience when you choose a personal trainer?

Personal trainers; do you have a specific client demographic that you prefer to train?

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Comments

  1. I love your description of >40!
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted…Menu Planning and Smoothies On-The-GoMy Profile

    • I should also have said that my over 40 clients are also the most satisfied with where they are in life! LOVE training them!

  2. Yes! The studio where I work specializes in training women over 40! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said!

    Love my clients!

    Kim
    Kim recently posted…Weekly Menu Plan–March 3, 2013My Profile

    • Kim, I’d love to work at your studio! We get all kinds at my gym (and sometimes not the best kinds…)

  3. YES.
    when I had my studio initially, and I was the only trainer, I always referred men to other trainers/places.
    They werent my gift.
    Ive never been a man.
    I KNEW WHAT I DID WELL—and it was not train them 🙂
    we need to know what we do well—in training and beyond—-and merely focus on that.
    Miz recently posted…The power of MONOtasking.My Profile

  4. I think I do OK with knowing exercise, changing it up, not over doing it etc…for me it all boils down to EATING! I love food and I know I eat too much/portion control issues. Can you wire my mouth shut? hahahaha!!!
    Kathy recently posted…So long….it was a short love anyway.My Profile

    • Food is the hard part for most people and I find that women tend to eat emotionally, which never helps with fitness goals! Try journalling and including how you’re FEELING every time you eat (hungry? frustrated? bored? upset? angry?). Only takes a week to figure out the pattern and then start BREAKING it!

      • OK….so what if I eat b/c I really just love the taste of it? Doesn’t matter what it is…buttered toast, grapefruit, baked kale with sea salt, yogurt and granola…portion control is an issue I guess. I can be full and b/c I love the taste I eat it saying “I am not hungry, I don’t really need this, but it tastes so good?”
        Kathy recently posted…Still changing/learning even at 44….My Profile

        • Hmm, sounds like something you need to work out. I love the taste of chocolate, but know when I’ve had enough. Perhaps brushing your teeth and getting out of the kitchen when you’re finished your meal?

  5. I have gone back and forth with this. Currently my clients range in age fro 15-89 years old. Male. Female. I work mostly with general fitness enthusiasts, though also train and do strength and conditioning work for high school and collegiate athletes. I train 4 competitive female bodybuilders, as well as 1 autistic adult.

    At this point in my life, I enjoy the variety. Since I have specialized in all of these in the past, I am probably at my most savvy today — staying acquainted with all of these aspects keeps me sharp.

    My observation is this; women over 40 here in Southern California are largely the opposite of what you described; Afraid of the free weights. Motivated largely, if not exclusively by how they look. Horrible students.

    Perhaps I should head North…
    Contemplative Fitness recently posted…Lift like a girl…My Profile

    • Come to Vancouver Roy. I think that California is kind of a different planet…

      • Actually explored the move there once, and may again. If I’m being honest, I can’t stand this place. BUT, I have a daughter in college and I make a great living here.

        #somedaymaybe
        Contemplative Fitness recently posted…Lift like a girl…My Profile

        • Hey wait, I am an over 40 in California 🙂 But I do see what you are talking about. A lot of women here are only working out to look good on the beach. However, there are those of us who are working out so we can rock it as grandmothers since we had kids later in life.

          • Ha! And Stephanie, soooo many of my online friends are Californians! I really don’t have much experience with Roy’s clientele, but know that my clients love function at least as much as aesthetics!

  6. I couldn’t agree more! I am an over 40 trainer/instructor and love all of my 40’s clients! We go through it all together and they are so dedicated. They also inspire me!

    • Yes! That’s also it, isn’t it? Sharing the mid-life issues that we all face as women and learning from others!

  7. Love this Tamara AND your description of older women! I don’t meet all in them BUt the ones I don’t, I strive for & want to be better at – not caring as much about the physical & I still do….

    I can only say from the virtual friendship & the videos that you must be an amazing trainer! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Gratitude Monday & Friends, Weather AND YMX!My Profile

    • Aw, thanks Jody! You truly embody my favourite type of client; dedicated, consistent and loving what you’re doing in the gym!

  8. That’s an interesting summary of your clients . . . and it all makes a lot of sense. Maybe that gives me something to look forward to then . . . when I can afford and justify having my own trainer. But in the meantime . . . . I did your wall workout this morning and LOVED it. Thank you!! 🙂
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted…Friday’s Five: I did it!!My Profile

  9. “They value function over aesthetics.”—This is so true. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but my main purpose of exercise is to maintain good health and mobility as I age. The aesthetics are a bonus, but they’re not the main reason.
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…Two Winners And A Rorschach TestMy Profile

    • Exactly! The aesthetic benefits always come (and somehow they’re all the more sweet when they’re not the primary goal!)

  10. Well, as one of YOUR over-40 clients (virtual, at that), I’d say that working with an over-40 trainer has been a fantastic experience – you “get” all the issues of older bodies, older minds, where life is at for many of us, etc. etc. I may be in the minority of over-40’s who’re training in that I am still vain about my body, but I DO understand much more in my older age the benefits of training for the long-haul, taking good care of my body, and more than most, I value every day I remain healthy and active! For those of you who’re toying w/getting Tamara on your team, I will tell you, I’m getting results that I love and enjoying the process as well. Hooray!
    Sarah @ Semi-Sweet recently posted…Skillet Rosemary ChickenMy Profile

    • Ha! Sarah, I wouldn’t say that you’re vain. Vain is the 20-year old guy I see every day in the gym who can’t walk past the mirror without flexing something and checking it out. He does this literally a dozen times each day!

      Thanks so much for the great recommendation! I love working with YOU too!

  11. I definitely think there is truth to this. I’m not 40, but my trainer is my age (33) and shares similar background/life experiences. She is relate-able to me and I think that helps a lot.
    Melissa recently posted…No Taste Buds, No Bueno.My Profile

    • I didn’t make that point clearly enough, but yes, finding somebody who ‘gets’ where you are in your life is extremely motivating when you’re making changes to your life!

  12. As a (sexy?) woman who is newly 40, I agree that a booty of steel is not my main concern. Sure, I wanna look good, but I also wanna fend off the body rust and keep from getting creaky and rickety as I age gracefully. I wanna be able to run, climb, bend, twist, lift and do corpse pose with power and strength. Ya know?
    Yum Yucky recently posted…4 Morning Workout QuickiesMy Profile

    • Love the term ‘body rust’! And yes, I want to be able to do all of those things too, even when my kids have kids! I’m going to be the fittest grandma on the block!

  13. I totally agree! That is my preferred demographic as well, although I have trained my oldest son who is 12, and my mom who is 67. But, that doesn’t really count;)
    rachelle q (hikermom) recently posted…Hot Chocolate 5k Race RecapMy Profile

    • Rachelle, how did you enjoy training your relatives? I can’t imagine that my mom or son would listen to me at all in the gym!

  14. Yep, being from very different age ranges can pose a problem. I have, however, also encountered young people who behaved very old, and old people who behaved rather young. That led me to believe that age certainly can change a person, but that age to a certain extent also is a mindset.
    evilcyber recently posted…Afraid Of The Gym? That’s Ok!My Profile

    • True, biological age and chronological age aren’t always the same thing. Mindset is everything, as my client John reminded me after he read this post!

  15. It was really timely reading this post, because I’ve been going through the same thought process and your post really rang true for me. I’ve been working with women in my age range and plain and simple, they say they want to work with someone who can relate to them, which makes perfect sense to me!

  16. Aw! I wish yo would be my personal trainer! 🙂 I have been doing pilates lately, but some weights sound good right now!!
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted…Angelina Jolie and Kale: Separated At BirthMy Profile

  17. Women over 40 are the ginchiest! As for that disposable income and time, where do I find those? Maybe at the over 55 mark. Super well done post that has a future in a magazine somewhere. My hope for you – pitch this to a consumer or trade pub as it’s an insta-classic!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and FlexibilityMy Profile

    • Thanks for the advice Kymberly (here and via email). Much appreciate the support!

  18. Great post – I love your list of over-40 points! I’m not a fitness trainer as such (I teach dog agility classes) but teach/train an ‘active hobby’ (?) I find the bulk of my clients are in the retired age bracket or at least the 55+ group. I love working with these folks … they’re funny, don’t freak out if they don’t immediately get everything right, keep me on my toes in terms of thinking of new/alternate methods of doing things, and they inspire me with with their fitness, activity and ability levels!

  19. I feel like I can’t even talk to women UNDER 40. It’s just so different when you’re goals and confidence are so clear.
    Gianna recently posted…What makes her sexy….My Profile

    • Ha! But it’s a great skill to cultivate! In my job, I need to be able to relate to lots of different ages and ability levels (however, I do do much better with my ‘niche’…)

  20. Hmmmmm I must be wise beyond my years as I match a lot of the characteristics of the over 40 crowd, despite not *quite* being there… yet.
    Janice – Fitness Cheerleader recently posted…Motivation Monday: My Ragnar Training PlanMy Profile

  21. I am an over 50 trainer and have clients in their 40’s. They say they want to look like me, which is a wonderful compliment. They are comfortable with their bodies and great to work with.

    • That is truly the best compliment ever, isn’t it Lorrie?
      And I LOVE that most of them are over body-bashing… I have NO time for that type of thinking!

  22. Love this post! I only train women (mostly over 30) for exactly the reasons you listed. I also think it allows me to specialise my knowledge and get really good at my niche rather than try and be something for everyone. Great post.

    • So true. It’s not possible to be everything to everybody, is it?
      I know I’ve tried! 🙂

  23. Love this article. Im a trainer as well and women over 40 are my target market for basically the exact same reasons! I love the fact that that majority of them come to me to improve their quality of life and not JUST to lose weight.

    • Thea, thanks for stopping by and commenting! It’s a great demographic to work with. Such positive people and such a relief to no longer be training clients to fit into their wedding dress in 6 weeks 😉

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