‘No matter your experience, confidence, and qualifications. One thing you can rely on is that the fitness industry can always throw you a curveball’.
After a few months experience, you may find yourself confident and accustomed to designing classes for multiple disciplines, age ranges, and abilities.
Nevertheless your metal can really get tested when you are presented with vast age ranges and abilities during the same session, henceforth having to cater for them all.
More often than not you will have no warning , as anyone can walk through your studio door.
Admittingly this problem tends to occur more in certain classes than others, a classic example being Aqua.
This is probably due to the concept being revolutionised in recent years by the introduction of ‘bolt-on’ CPD courses such as; Aqua Jog, Aqua Combat, and Aqua Bootcamp. Which have transformed the concept from a ‘blue rinse sport’ into a serious conditioning workout.
Concepts such as aqua increase the instructor’s pressure, as they have to cater for people as young as 20 and as old as 80 at the exact same time!
It’s sink or swim time- Pun intended!!
Therefore without further ado, please find my top tips on catering for vast age ranges.
It starts with your assessment!
- Don’t judge a book by its cover!
Never assume that because a client is maturing that they aren’t capable! I’ve worked with 70 year old triathletes and 20 year old couch potatoes in the past!
As well as this, anyone can suffer from injury, illness, and reduced ROM at any age.
Therefore you are better off attempting to assess their fitness levels during the warm up than just by sight alone.
- Look at what’s in front of you!
Without judging a book by its cover, you can make a calculated guess on a clients capability by assessing the following:
Posture– Look at how they stand when they are waiting to get into the studio. Can they hold themselves upright without an aid?
Movement– Look at how they walk into the studio. Are they hobbling or walking briskly? Do they set up their equipment without struggle?
Pallet– How does their complexion respond to the intensity of the exercise they are performing?
- Watch how they move
Assessing a client’s ROM during the warm up is like being given a backstage pass to a concert. If they struggle to execute & co-ordinate basic warm-up exercises, it’s unlikely they will be doing burpees in the main session. Therefore may need the workout modifying.
Then it ends with how you respond!
- The aerobic curve is a friend!!
When delivering any manner of cardio based fitness class. The aerobic curve is a great training tool that allows clients to choose their own workout intensity. Without affecting the delivery of the class.
Base Move: Walking
Progression 1: Marching
Progression 2: Jogging
Progression 3: High Knee Jogging
Progression 4: Sprinting
- Do they know what they should be lifting?
You may find during resistance based classes that clients often compromise their technique in a stubborn attempt to lift extra weight.
This is where instructor guidance both prior to and during the session becomes important.
Personally I always ask clients to choose a range of weights which THEY find heavy, medium, and light. Henceforth making it easy for them to manipulate the lifting load during the class. From there I constantly reinforce the importance of correct technique over lifting load throughout the class.
Remember, anyone at any age can do a resistance based class with the correct instructor guidance.
- Options options options!!!
As a professional fitness instructor, you should already have the skillset to modify exercises for clients both more and less able than others.
However if you are aware of an extensive variation in class age and ability, you need to be one step ahead of the clients.
Don’t wait until you have a client shaking their head because they can’t do the exercise before you decide to modify it. Avoid singling people out by giving the entire class options that increase and decrease the intensity of the exercise.
Overall you need three main skills to deal with client age gaps; perception, responsiveness, and a flexible attitude!