Month: July 2019

Exercise Equipment for Mature Clients: Don’t Let Age Limits Keep You from Using a Variety

Exercise Equipment for Mature Clients: Don’t Let Age Limits Keep You from Using a Variety

By Cody Sipe

Functional Aging Institute

Exercise equipment for mature clients is a great topic for trainers to discuss with each other and with their clients. When we do so, let’s keep our focus on the need for function, not merely an individual’s age.

Depending on each client, we trainers can use all the tools at our disposal – including strength machines, barbells, elliptical trainers, step climbers and kettlebells for clients at any age.

It’s a lingering myth that something becomes off-limits or “too dangerous” once a client reaches a certain age. It’s even ageist and needlessly limiting to say, “You can do only chair exercises” – or “Don’t use anything heavy.”

I was interviewed recently for an article in US News & World Report headlined Exercise Equipment for Seniors that addressed various tools commonly used in gyms and studios. I want to expound on some of the points the article covered, and touch on some others that didn’t make the cut.

About ellipticals, bikes and rowing machines, I said, “It is more dangerous not to be doing these things than to do them, because of the health risks of being sedentary… Those are all really good for people who have any sort of lower-limb discomfort or osteoarthritis. That’s typically what we recommend for them.”

We also discussed resistance bands, which have their uses but also their limitations. Remind your clients that they can build more strength with cable machines or free weights. Don’t let them avoid a challenge by using just bands.

Older clients can choose anything that younger adults do, as long as they’re physically capable and have instruction, just like anybody else.

We must train them with a variety of equipment options and get away from “one size fits all” style restrictions.

And while walking or running are great, they are not enough. Repeat it to your clients and prospects: Walking and running are not enough.

Help them try something new and learn what they like. If that’s free weights, then great. If someone is curious about kettlebells, for instance, then show them how to use them and why (assuming you think they’re appropriate for that individual). Don’t let her hesitation prevent her from giving it a whirl.

On the flip side, be careful you don’t just throw new ideas about different equipment at them willy-nilly. Have a strategy. Make it relevant.

We have a lot of tools available to us, and that’s great. But ultimately, we’re trying to achieve a functional outcome.

The Functional Aging Institute offers members valuable instruction about how you can make the most of equipment training for your clients. Be sure to take become certified as a Functional Aging Specialist. And check out instruction from Anchor Point Training and ActivMotion Bar.

How Trainers Can Help People Struggling with Depression

How Trainers Can Help People Struggling with Depression

How Trainers Can Help People Struggling with Depression

By Paul Holbrook, FAI Advisory Board Member

Depression is common among mature adults, but in the fitness industry, we can help alleviate the suffering.

The American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry says 15% of people over 65 have symptoms that cause them distress and make it difficult for them to function.

Depression also influences the physical and mental health of older adults, say researchers from the University of Washington. Their study shows that mature adults with significant depression have healthcare costs about 50% higher than others.

Worldwide,  depression is expected to become the second leading cause by 2020, according to the World Health Organization.

As a personal trainer, you’re in an excellent position to help adults over 50 who might be suffering from depression. You can help them with physical activity and by giving them your full attention.

Research shows that exercise:

  • Enhances self-esteem
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases the ability to handle stress
  • And improves sleep.

In addition, a recent study suggests that exercise many be an effective antidote to major depression. Investigators from Duke University Medical Center tested exercise against an antidepressant in 156 outpatients 50 and older who had a major depressive disorder. The team discovered that both treatments had about the same ability to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Exercise also did a better job of keeping symptoms from coming back after the depression lifted.

Tips for Listening to Mature Adults

Physical activity breaks down emotional barriers, freeing mature adults to express their feelings or talk about what’s distressing them. Be fully engaged and listen when your clients feel safe enough to open up more. If you listen authentically and with clear intention, you’ll draw them out and encourage them to express their emotions.

Select exercises that help you maintain good eye contact. Constantly assess your physical position, adjusting when necessary by standing or kneeling to keep eye-level contact.

Here are other helpful ideas for listening to mature adults.

  1. Stop talking. Resist giving advice. You can’t listen while you talk.
  2. Empathize. Try to put yourself in the other’s place to understand his or her perspective.
  3. Don’t give up too soon. Be patient; don’t interrupt.
  4. Concentrate on what the client is saying. Actively focus your attention on words, ideas and feelings related to the subject.
  5. Look at the person. Focus both eyes on ONE of the client’s eyes, rather than shifting from eye to eye. You’ll be amazed at what you will see and learn.
  6. Leave your emotions behind. Try to push your worries, fears and problems outside the interaction.

By using the right exercise intensity levels, you will help break barriers and open communication. Then, with your best effort and intention, you can engage clients with your full attention to help them feel less depressed, better about themselves, and better able to think more clearly about issues at hand.

After IDEA World: How to Focus on Changing Lives, Not Just Raising Excitement

After IDEA World: How to Focus on Changing Lives, Not Just Raising Excitement

By Dan Ritchie, Functional Aging Institute

I had an excellent experience teaching at IDEA World this year. But I also left there a bit dazed, wondering how we can remain focused on improving the lives of our clients.

Let me explain.

First, I hosted a Functional Aging Specialist Workshop for trainers and other fitness pros there at the vast, annual fitness con in Orange County at the end of June. (We have another coming up in Washington, DC, too.) I also led two sessions on cognitive fitness, which is the subject of our excellent new training course we will release later this month. And I hosted another fun workshop on balance and power training for the mature client.

But, maybe since I’ve been to many conferences already, I felt a bit like I had “been there, done that.” They had countless pieces of fitness equipment, dumbbells, kettlebells, bars, reformers, bikes, ellipticals and more. You name it; they had it. Plus, tons of fancy new gadgets, too.

They had every session imaginable to get your sweat going, your heart pumping, and your enthusiasm roaring to head home and share all this excitement with your clients. There was plenty of hooping and hollering and hoorays to go around.

I left thinking, Ok, great, that was fun — but how can I make an impact with clients, my studio, and FAI? How can I channel that energy into coming home focused on helping people and changing their lives?

How are we, as an industry, going to alter the face of fitness, health, medicine, wellness, and longevity if we aren’t trying to  learn, teach and improve in those areas? Our industry remains too concerned with youth, vanity and weight loss — not that there is anything wrong with any of that.

Isn’t it time we get serious about movement? About functional ability and functional longevity? It’s time to say we need fitness for life and lifestyle and we need specialists who can help people live better lives, and lives to 100 years or beyond!

I want you to strongly consider what education you purchase next, what certification you will achieve, and what CEC course will serve your career and clients best.

Maybe it’s time to invest in yourself with one of our training courses and gain valuable knowledge to help move ahead and change lives. Watch our “change lives” video, and let us know what you think.

Conferences can be fun and valuable. But the real work happens every day, every month, every year you’re working with clients at home.

 >Dan Ritchie is president and co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute.

Be Bold, Claim Old: Fighting Ageism Starts with Ourselves

Be Bold, Claim Old: Fighting Ageism Starts with Ourselves

The power of mindfulness and positive thinking can’t be overestimated when it comes to living a long, healthy life.

Negative perspectives on aging can cut 7.5 years off your life. And instead of being bummed out about lost youth or worried about what might happen later, we should celebrate every age of life.

That was the main message of Amy Gorely, the closing keynote speaker at the Functional Aging Summit in Albuquerque.

Be Bold, Claim Old

“Be Bold, Claim Old” is Amy’s national campaign to raise awareness about ageism. Amy is an advocate for the “age positive” movement and wants to spur discussion about the negative impacts of aging and how to fight it. She is director of community relations at Carolina Meadows, a continuing care retirement community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

She urged FAS attendees to go home and work to “inspire a culture that empowers all ages,” rather than merely glorifying the young.

“If you live long enough, ageism will affect you. Aging is universal. It’s a human condition,” she said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to care about how we view aging.”

Yet ageism remains a socially acceptable prejudice, in ways that can seem harmless – like “funny” birthday cards implying we’re over-the-hill at 30, or “complimenting” someone by saying, “You look great for your age.”

Good for the Body and the Mind

The truth is much more encouraging. Amy cited studies that show life satisfaction increases with age for most people. While many of us fear losing our memories, just 10 percent of people over 65 get Alzheimer’s disease. And the parts of the brain responsible for knowledge and wisdom continue to grow as we age.

“What’s good for the body is also good for the mind,” she said.

When we see intolerance of aging, we need to confront it with tolerance, kindness and humor, she advised. “The change in tolerance is going to take all of us, every single generation.”

By embracing every age, we can feel better about aging ourselves – and help others feel better about it, too. ‘Plant the seeds of awareness within yourself, your clients, and the culture wherever you are.”

Summit Presentations Available Online

Amy’s “Be Bold, Claim Old” speech is available to FAI members online, as are all the other summit presentations. Other summit highlights you can see include:

  • Opening keynote speaker Marc Middleton of Growing Bolder, “Launchpad to What’s Next”
  • Evelyn Flaharty on “Defying Age from the Boardroom to the Stage”
  • Marketing guru Jeff Weiss on “Muck the Fillennials”
  • FAI’s Dr. Dan Ritchie on “Designing Small Group Training with 3-4 Functional Levels in Mind.”
  • FAI’s Cody Sipe on “Senior Strength – a scientific update and the movements

Just go to for these and many more valuable videos.


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