5 Things To Consider When Training Older Clients
Training a senior (65+) client can be an extremely rewarding challenge,
and a great type of clientele to add to your client base. The senior
population could really use your help, they need to build up their
strength, endurance and stability for their everyday lives.
If and when you do decide you’d like to expand your repertoire and bring a senior client under your wing, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Look to Living Facilities for Clients
One thing you'll quickly notice if you decide to expand to senior training is that clients aren't always as visible. You can certainly find them (particularly given that many would argue 70 is the new 50!), but if you need a boost to get started, you can explore the idea of training at a senior living facility. According to the CDC , seniors ought to be getting at least 150 minutes of "moderate-intensity aerobic activity" a week, provided they're able. Needless to say many living in care facilities fall well short of this. This presents a problem that as a trainer you can naturally offer solutions to –– either by taking on individual clients or possibly by working out a situation with the facility whereby you can conduct a few training sessions each week.
2. Consider Training Through Medicare as Well
Another way to seek out clients in this demographic is to explore training programs associated with Medicare (which accounts for tens of millions of seniors' health insurance today. While Medicare primarily concerns things like access to doctor visits and medications, plan overviews on Kelsey Care Advantage make clear that some versions of the coverage also involve something called SilverSneakers –– a program that provides access to fitness instructors. Provided you're a qualified trainer, you can apply to be involved in this program through a simple process online, ultimately giving you another simple way to expand your customer base to include seniors.
3. Begin with an Assessment
Once you have a senior client (or several), you'll need to begin with a full assessment. While this is true to some extent for any new client, it’s extremely important to have a 30-minute to 1-hour evaluation with older clients. This is the point where you take notes about their medical history such as past surgeries, injuries, and current health issues that will impact their workout plan. It’s also a great time for you and the client to get to know each other and build trust. Ask the client about their health goals and their expectations from the program.
4. Tailor Exercises to the Clients’ Needs
Here is where you’re going to use the information collected during the assessment. Everyone is different, and older clients are especially so; they have 65-plus years' worth of molding their minds and bodies into what they are today! For this reason it's important to consider both physical limitations and mental expectations to craft exercise plans that will be effective.
Generally speaking, common limitations of elderly clients include: limited range of motion, joint pain (either constant or only when performing a certain movement), muscle atrophy, bone density loss, and urinary incontinence. Any of these can come into play in an exercise routine, so again, it's important to tailor exercises and plans (as well as your own understanding) accordingly.
5. Monitor; Don’t Babysit
If a senior client decides to start a workout regimen, chances are they’re not as frail as some might assume. They don’t need to be followed around and watched like a hawk during their training. Plus, according to The Washington Post , some 82% of people even over the age of 50 complain of ageism –– meaning your senior clients are likely sensitive to being treated too differently.
Show them how to do a certain exercise, watch as they do the first few reps, correct their form or posture if necessary, and then let them be until the end of their set. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your clients (regardless of age), but avoid being a helicopter .
In addition to taking all of the above into account when it comes to obtaining and handling senior clients, you will also of course want to stay organized. Ultimately, every client is different. People may have specialized workout regimens due to past injuries or health problems; diets, preferred classes, and workout times vary wildly from person to person.
Senior clients, in particular, tend to have a lot of information that a personal trainer needs to keep up with: schedules, physical limitations, medications, and other details that need to be kept in mind. All of this organization is where our services at The Training Notebook come in handy. It will help you to keep detailed notes on all of your clients' needs, and help you to deliver the best possible results to those new seniors in particular.
By Paulette Adkins