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UK Coaching Team
Supporting Specific Needs

Training Older People: Meeting Their Needs

Are you comfortable with training older adults? Virgin Active’s National Product Development Manager Ceri Hannan explains that training older people could boost your fitness career and offers advice for engaging with and supporting that sector of the population

2019 saw 'fitness programmes for the older adult' make the American College of Sports Medicine top 10 trends yet again. So why is it so often glossed over in the industry?

The older adult market often seems to get the cold shoulder from the major leisure centre operators. But don’t be fooled: it’s jam-packed with opportunity.

Unlike their younger counterparts, people who are close to retirement, or have already retired (the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation) are more likely to be members of leisure centres and classes or have individual trainers for the long haul.

They do arguably have more specific needs than gym-goers in their 20s, 30s and 40s, which can be intimidating. However, if you understand their needs and are willing to adapt to them, they can be a wonderfully rewarding group to work with.

What do older adults look for in fitness training?

  1. Prevention. They realise they’re entering the second phase of their lives and see a need to prepare for it. They’re looking to prevent falls, memory issues, and declining health and quality of life.
  2. Control. They seek control over their lives and are trying to manage high blood pressure, arthritis and other health issues or long-term conditions.
  3. Reversal. They wish to slow down the effects of ageing; perhaps they’ve had a knee or hip replacement. Maintaining mobility, flexibility and balance are important, and they want to continue to enjoy time with their grandchildren, doing their hobbies, and activities such as playing golf or tennis.
  4. Independence. They want to continue to have the independence they’ve enjoyed up to this point in their lives. They desire freedom and the ability to live independently. Often ‘empty nesters’ or perhaps widowed, they want to remain social and to have connections with others. 

Related Resources

  • Coaches Must Recognise the Impact of Age Discrimination

  • Coaching’s Crucial Role in Tackling Loneliness

  • Training Older People: Learn From Experienced Fitness Professionals


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UK Coaching Team