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Top 5 Myths — and Facts — About Fitness Training for Older Adults

The over-50 age group is the largest growing demographic in the fitness market, and the demand for personal training among older adults is high. Most older adults have the time and money to hire a trainer, and want the reassurance of safe and effective exercise to achieve and maintain optimal health. Yet many personal  trainers are reluctant to take on older clients, especially those in their 70s and beyond.

Following are five common myths about training older adults, and the surprising truth about the advantages of working with this very special population:

Myth 1: Older people are boring, and we won’t have anything in common.

Fact: Older adults who engage in fitness activities are anything but boring. Most are highly accomplished, with stellar careers and colorful life experiences that go back decades. Training older adults gives you a rich cultural experience that you will not experience with younger clients.

Myth 2: Older adults are fragile and pose a high liability risk for injury.

Fact: When working with a trainer, older adults pose no greater risk for injury than the general population. The same principles and guidelines that govern all adults also apply to older adults. Progressive overload, specificity, the FITT principle and consistency are all principles that apply to older adults. The ACSM exercise guidelines are nearly identical for adults of all ages.

Myth 3: Older adults have medical conditions and take drugs that make it difficult to train them.

Fact: Medical conditions and medications may impose certain challenges, but they can be overcome. The key is to know the client’s health history and physical limitations, and to educate yourself about how to work with those limitations and get results. Working with older adults is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and expertise. Becoming certified as an Older Adult Fitness Specialist will give you additional tools and specific knowledge for training older adult clients with health issues.

Myth 4: Older adults cannot expect to get stronger or healthier through fitness.

Fact: Given the appropriate levels of overload, older adults can build bone and muscle, increase cardiovascular health, improve flexibility and generally improve overall health. Moreover, older adults benefit from the psycho-social aspects of fitness training, with reduced levels of depression and anxiety, and improved mood.

Myth 5: Older adults are frugal and won’t want to pay for personal training.

Fact: Older adults have a high appreciation for health and are willing to pay for training that enhances their overall quality of life. Most know that medical interventions are expensive and often ineffective. Older adults often have a surplus of discretionary income that they are willing to spend on their overall health and wellness. Family members are often supportive of their loved one who wants to improve their health through fitness, and appreciate the added safety provided by a certified trainer. Moreover, an older adult is more likely to become a long-term client, giving you greater financial stability in the long run.

W.I.T.S. Older Adult Fitness Certification

The older adult population has certain unique needs that do not appear in the general population, and there is growing demand for fitness professionals who understand those needs. Trainers are in high demand for in-home training, retirement communities, and gyms and studios. Enhance your credentials, increase your expertise and grow your career with the W.I.T.S. Older Adult Fitness Specialist certification, available live and online.

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