Physical activity is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Although the detrimental health effects of inactivity are well documented, more than 31 million Americans over the age of 50 meet the criteria of being inactive, meaning they only move enough during the day to accomplish the most basic tasks. As baby boomers enter their golden years, the number of inactive older people is expected to climb sharply, potentially leading to a pandemic of inactivity-related illnesses and accidents.
The solution to inactivity is far simpler than many seniors assume it to be. All it takes is regular, scheduled exercise. Many seniors, however, have never participated in a fitness program before, so the undertaking of such an endeavor may seem out of reach. Luckily, there are many health and fitness professionals prepared to help seniors improve their physical fitness. Personal trainers are a tremendous resource to help stave off many of the health problems older people face. Personal training can be done in a gym or at home, depending on preference.
Hiring a personal trainer is an extremely personal decision. There are numerous considerations that go into choosing the right personal trainer. Seniors, especially, need a trainer to be mindful of their changing, age-related needs. Here are a few things to look for when hiring a personal trainer.
Does the trainer have a formal education?
Not all personal trainers have formal educations in their field. Most certification programs require no more than a high school diploma to enter, and their programs last, on average, less than three months. The most qualified personal trainers will have a four-year degree in an exercise and physiology-related field from an accredited university. Because seniors often have special health considerations, it is important to seek out a personal trainer with a formal education in a relevant field.
Does the trainer have experience working with seniors?
Having a formal education and certification do not always mean a personal trainer is qualified to work with seniors. As the body ages, things stop working the way that they used to. It is important for seniors to find someone who has experience working with older individuals and experience creating fitness and nutrition programs that take age into account.
Is the trainer pushy?
Personal trainers are small business owners. This is important to understand because it means good trainers are also good salespeople. An overly pushy or aggressive trainer is a warning sign that something is amiss. While selling training plans is important, a top-class trainer knows that their business is all about helping clients achieve a healthier, fitter version of themselves. Top trainers don’t want to take on clients they can’t actually help. Seniors should be patient when shopping for a trainer, make sure they have all the information they need, and avoid making a decision under pressure.
Does the personal trainer have positive energy?
While positive energy is difficult to nail down as a concept, we all intrinsically feel it when we are around someone who emits it. A personal trainer’s main job isn’t to educate, but to motivate. Trainers need clients to come back session after session. A trainer with low or negative energy cannot achieve this, no matter how nice the trainer might be. This is especially important because regular, scheduled exercise is the key to better health — as opposed to spotty workout sessions every other week. Seniors who like their personal trainer are more likely to stick with an exercise program.
Will the trainer recommend someone else if you ask?
The best personal trainers know their strengths and their weaknesses. Trainers who specialized in power lifting, for example, are not well suited to doing yoga. That’s why seniors should ask a prospective personal trainer what their specialty is and if that specialty fits their personal needs and goals a client. A good personal trainer will know if they are not a good fit and will happily refer a client to someone else if there is a need to do so. They will also know if you are a good fit for them. An experienced trainer should be able to provide examples of clients similar to you that they have helped in the past.
Personal trainers are a good resource for seniors who have never exercised before but who need to exercise to improve their physical health. Choosing a trainer is a matter of personal preference, but there are some additional considerations for seniors. A good trainer for seniors is someone who has a formal education in exercise and physiology, has experience working with seniors, isn’t too pushy when it comes to sales, has the right personality to fit the client’s needs, and who isn’t afraid to refer a client to a different trainer if necessary. Taking all these factors into account when shopping for a personal trainer will help seniors find and hire the right person.