Coach’s Q&A: Special Considerations When Evaluating and Training Clients 55 and over

If you’re considering a personal trainer and you’re into your mid 50s or beyond, you may have specific concerns, health issues, and/or injuries. This Q&A with Chad Franciscus, certified personal trainer and owner of Cause and Effects Fitness, will answer your questions about working out with a personal trainer.

Q: As a personal trainer, how do you view growing older?

A: Part of staying young is learning new things and continuing to grow. Once you stop learning, that’s really when you get old. It’s more about energy than your actual age. How old you feel is determined by your energy level.

A person’s energy levels can definitely be improved. A lot of it is habit and other things you’ve been doing like not eating healthy or being inactive.

What’s considered normal in the aging process in the United States is only normal because that’s what people here do. People living in the “blue zones” around the world live longer, healthier lives. They stay more active and continue to work.

Being fit is ultimately about living your life better.

Q: What specific challenges do older clients face?

A: It’s not necessarily about their physical condition. Changing how they think is going to be hard if they’ve done things a certain way for so long. Getting started with something new can be a challenge.

Balance and coordination is another challenge, which is very important.

They may need to work around injuries. It’s important to make sure they’re moving properly and using proper form.

Not knowing where to get started in an exercise program and what they’ll get the most benefit from can be daunting. They need to have a program with structure and consistency and do it long enough, so they’ll see results.

Q: How do you handle these challenges as a personal trainer?

A: We carefully guide people through their work outs. One of our biggest concerns with all our clients is safety, doing the right exercises properly and preventing injuries.

I’m a Silver Sneakers Certified Instructor and I’ve taken courses fromAmerican Council on Exercise (ACE) on training over 50 adults as part of my continuing education required to maintain my certification. I regularly take courses on training the older adult population. I’m also an ACE Behavior Change Specialist. Mindset is vital to our approach.

Q: Do you have some inspirational client stories to share?

A: Absolutely! Rae, a 62 -year-old self-described desk jockey, came to us because she signed up for the Paris Disney World half marathon. She had never run before in her life! Her program was tailored towards the goal of running.

We worked on balance, stability, strengthening muscles, and building endurance and stamina. While she was training, she said she would only do one marathon. Rae returned from Paris with her medal, mini Eiffel Towers for the staff, and plans for more marathons! Two weeks later she ran in the Hershey marathon and later ran in the half marathon in Disney World, Florida.

Rae (3rd from left), 62, holding her gold medal for completing the Disney Half-Marathon in Paris
We worked with Doris-Jean, an 89- year-old client who had trouble getting around. Her daughters watched her work out. They noticed a difference in her mobility and an improvement in her short-term memory. Her doctors were impressed with how strong she was.
Doris-Jean, 92, with her personal trainer, Coach Chad
To inspire all our clients, we keep a picture of Doris-Jean in the office with the caption, “If she can do it, anyone can!”

Q: How do you develop a customized plan for clients?

A: We start with a consultation and talk in detail about their goals, what’s important to them and what they want to work on the most. We tailor the program to match their needs. Then, we do a physical assessment to help us determine what the client should do and not do.

We make monthly assessments to track progress and make adjustments so clients are continually making progress.

The goals will change. They may be modest at the beginning, but once they start to see real progress, they think bigger. They say, “Let me set a bigger goal for myself.” As the goals evolve, the program can evolve with them. It’s motivating when you see progress.

Q: What do you focus on?

A: We work specifically with older clients on balance and strengthening of the core.  Balance is very important for older adults. They can fall, possibly break a hip, and become inactive, which leads to other health problems. We work with them to prevent falls.

The core is the center of your body. It keeps your body stable and prevents you from falling over. Strength, core and balance are all interrelated.

Q: Should clients consult their physician before beginning an exercise regimen?

A: Yes, that’s always recommended. We can work with a client’s physician if there are any concerns. We work with people with medical conditions, and we’re conscious of that. That’s the benefit of working with a trainer who has experience with people with conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, and shoulder and knee replacements. For example, exercising and eating properly play a big role in reducing or reversing Type 2 diabetes.

Q: What do you tell people who think they can’t work out any longer?

A: It’s more of a limitation in your own mind. Anyone can start somewhere. A personal trainer meets you where you’re at and starts there, regardless of your fitness level and other limitations.

The important thing is to get started! You can always make positive changes to improve your life.

If you’re ready to get started, contact Cause and Effects today to schedule your FREE consultation.

Coach’s Q&A: Special Considerations When Evaluating and Training Clients 55 and over

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