Perhaps it was when a 74 year old woman approached me and said "I want to get fit" and weeks later, she was speed walking on the treadmill, working with light weights, balance boards and Swiss balls and making great progress. Maybe it was when a 68 year old man came to me and said "how long should we be holding a plank position for because I'm holding one every morning now for 8 minutes". Perhaps it was me, qualifying as a Personal Trainer aged 42, a couple of stones overweight, not particularly fit but three years down the line, two stones lighter, fit and strong. Any one of these scenarios tells me one thing. It is NEVER too late to review a diet and exercise regime and improve, big style!
Barriers to fitness? There are many and age is just one. It is a thought to get a tired, inflexible and perhaps overweight body to move. It is far easier for people to believe that the potential for change has passed. It is up to us to inspire, motivate and encourage in as many ways as we can.
Over the course of each week, I see around 60 female clients through a mixture of one-to-one PT, group PT and classes. They fall into two categories; 40 – 60yrs and 65yrs and over.
Let’s take the first category. With no wish or intention of putting everybody in the same basket, having worked with this age group for some time, there are a number of things that I see and hear on a regular basis. Many women neglect their fitness after having children, not through choice, more through lack of time and a change of priorities. Stepping back into an exercise environment after several years is brave. I acknowledge this and spend time making sure every client builds self-belief and regains confidence in the fact that they’ve made a really positive decision for themselves and will benefit greatly over time, both physically and mentally.
Secondly, people have busy and often stressful lives. Exercise is an effort so it needs to be enjoyed. Most women in this age bracket are not looking for a GI Jane style of instructor. Some are, in which case they will enjoy Bootcamp, Metafit or Insanity but a more gentle approach works with my clients and I have great rates of retention. I create an environment where we can all laugh at ourselves. A loud ‘harumph’ by one lady ten seconds into holding a plank allows everyone to relax and have a giggle, despite the fact that others may be holding their plank position for two minutes. I make sure that we are all supportive and encouraging towards each other and this allows me to provide adaptations easily, without causing embarrassment or making anybody feel less able. One of my clients said to me recently, “I work hard all day and despite the fact that exercise is good for me, I would not be rushing home, sorting