Saturday, October 20, 2012

Top 11 Reasons to Train Older Adults


I’ve spent the past 20 years focusing on older adult exercise. I’ve learned a lot during that time, especially when it comes to why I do it. 

Mainly it’s because I love it which is why I've stayed with this niche group for so long and why I plan on continuing to work with seniors. After all, if you've got to work 40+ hours per week it better be doing something you absolutely love or you are going to plod through life miserable. 

If you have been thinking of making the break and specializing in fitness for older adults then maybe this will inspire you to get off your duff and do it already.

  1. It’s rewarding. To see someone’s entire life improve because you are training them is very satisfying. And not just because they’ve dropped a few pounds or look better in their jeans but because they can now go to the store by themselves or play with their grandchildren without getting tired. That’s good stuff. These people really, really need our help.
  2. Ego-free Environment. Older clients just don’t have the same ego as many younger clients. They are very pleasant to work and get along with. They aren’t there to try to impress you or make themselves look good. They are there to get your help.
  3. Meaningful results. Adding 10 lbs to someone’s bench press might be meaningful to some trainers but I prefer results that really matter to life. Someone stands up for the first time in 6 months. Someone stumbles and doesn't fall (finally). Someone can now garden again without pain. Those kinds of results are meaningful to me because they are meaningful to them.
  4. They appreciate you. I’ve been given cards, cookies, food, trinkets, kisses (you bet), etc. from my older clients just because they are appreciative of what I’ve done for them. It is nice to feel appreciated.
  5. Loyalty. While younger clients tend to be fickle and hop from fad to fad older clients tend to remain more loyal to those they have developed a relationship with. So older clients stay longer and pay longer than most younger clients do. Plus their lives are more stable so they are less likely to move out of the area, get a new job or have other events get in their way of training. Treat them warmly and fairly and they will be your clients for years and years.
  6. Humor. They’re funny. Flat out funny. There are always a few guys who want to be the life of the party and have a new joke every time they come to the gym. I can almost guarantee a couple really good laughs every day.
  7. Life stories. Older adults have led interesting lives and I really enjoy hearing about their life experiences and the wisdom some of them have to share. It makes my life that much richer.
  8. Giving back. I believe in giving back to the community as do most older adults. We run charity events all the time and our clients participate well in those events. It unites us and gives us a common bond because we share some of the same values.
  9. Opportunity. Large number of potential clientele (and growing every day). Face it, if you want job security then train older clients. They are the fastest-growing segment of the population and will dominate the market for the next 20+ years (and there aren’t a lot of trainers dedicated to serving them). Plus they have a huge interest in staying healthy and they have the money to pay for training.
  10. I feel at ease. Honestly, I just feel more at ease with older adults. I really don’t prefer to train younger women (which my wife appreciates) and younger men bore me. I can just be myself and transparent with older clients. It is so nice not to have to impress your clients with your physique or your knowledge or your cool clothes. I can just relax and do my thing.
  11. Make full use of my expertise. Training older adults isn’t easy. There are a lot of factors to consider such as medical conditions/diseases, medications, injuries, age-related changes, exercise preferences, etc. But I don’t want easy. I want to be challenged and use the expertise I’ve developed over the years and older adults provide a great outlet for that energy.
So, what are you waiting for? If you're ready to make the change, you can read more about what it takes to shift your business and your skills to accommodate this growing niche client base.

Cody Sipe, PhD is a recognized leader in senior fitness.  He is an Associate Professor, facility owner and recipient of the IDEA Program Director of the Year award.  He speaks and writes regularly on topics related to senior fitness throughout the industry.   For a list of events featuring Cody, visit FEI and click on courses.


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    1 comment:

    1. Hi Cody.

      I've been teaching senior fitness for ten years. Love it for so many reasons, including these facts:
      - they are me, just ahead of me;
      - it is a great thing to strengthen older people;
      - it is a continuous challenge to consider how to strengthen the body as we age;
      - it is absolutely appreciated.
      PLUS, all the reasons you mentioned. Great post. Thank you.
      Anne Etra


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