Welcome to Older Wiser Workout, a site for both Older Adults, and for Fitness Instructors who teach Older Adult Fitness. If you are a Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer who teaches older adult fitness, or you are planning to teach seniors, then we have 11 great teaching fundamentals for you. Also don’t hesitate to visit and subscribe to our comprehensive library of teaching tips at FitTipsForPros.fit, the most comprehensive collection of Senior Fitness Teaching Tips available online.
Here are our best Teaching Tips for Older Adult Fitness:
1. Fall Prevention
Balance work should be included in every class. It’s important to challenge balance while moving, because most falls occur while moving. These dynamic (not static!) balance exercises can be done by swinging a leg in various directions, or by standing with feet in a challenging balanced position and swinging an arm in various directions. Safety is obviously paramount while challenging balance, so participants should start each balance exercise while touching the back of their sturdy chair. For examples of safe, dynamic balance exercises, check out my online library of tips for teaching older adult fitness at: FitTipsForPros.fit
2. Mix Up The Music!
Big Band music is fabulous for senior fitness classes, but it’s fun to mix in 50s & 60s, disco, country, and upbeat rock & roll. Keep the volume of the music low enough so that your class can still hear your cues, and keep the tempo slow enough (at or below 128 beats per minute) so that everyone can keep up.
3. Zoom Family
If you are teaching remotely, consider starting your classes 15 minutes ahead of time. This will give participants a chance to informally chat before class. These relaxed conversations build a congenial sense of community with your class. Your participants will enjoy helping each other out with advice about all sorts of topics.
4. Red or Blue?
You are just teaching senior fitness, so it’s crucial to NOT talk about politics in class. My participants have no idea if I am a Democrat or Republican, even though I do have very strong personal values. I encourage positive chats about everything except politics, and everyone appreciates a break from negative, opinionated statements.
5. Brain Games
Include some fun brain games occasionally to improve cognitive health, and to add fun and novelty to your classes. However, be sure to keep these activities short and sweet so they are a special treat. Watch your participants carefully to find that “Goldilocks spot” where the cognitive challenges are not too hard, and not too easy. Model the behavior of laughing when making a mistake. The key is to have participants moving and thinking at the same time, not about worrying about making a mistake. Check out teaching tips for teaching older adult fitness at FitTipsForPros.fit for lots of brain game ideas.
6. Partner Up
If you are teaching in person, your participants will LOVE doing partner activities. These games will foster friendships and laughter. FitTipsForPros.fit has plenty of partner games your participants will enjoy.
Keep It Simple, Stupid! Keep your choreography easy and uncomplicated. I do the same choreography for one week, and then switch up the routine the following week. Watch your class carefully to make sure that they are able to follow your moves. Teach the footwork of each move first before adding arm variations.
8. 3D Moves
Since we move in all three planes of motion during the day, it’s important to practice moving in all directions when exercising. Most traditional exercises are only done in the sagittal (forward and backward) and frontal (side to side) planes of motion. The rotational plane of motion (transverse plane) often gets ignored. If your participants practice rotating in the safe environment of your class, they will be able to twist and turn safely during the day. The only exception to this is if a person has severe osteoporosis and their doctor has told them never to twist and turn. They will obviously need to follow their doctor’s orders.
9. Know Their Names
It is really important that you greet every participant by name. You will probably have to make a concerted effort to do so, but it makes all the difference in the world. Check out my video on easy tips on how to remember people’s names on FitTipsForPros.fit.
10. Offer Options
Your goal is to have every person leaving your class think, “Wow! That class was just perfect for me. I did great!” Your classes will obviously have people with varying medical issues and abilities. So be sure to show lots of options for every move. I demonstrate the basic exercise, and then show an easy, and challenging version of the exercise. I tell all my classes that it’s my job to give them options, and its their job to make smart choices. They need to customize the class so it’s just right for them. Lastly, I only do the advanced version for a few repetitions so that no one thinks that they all have to do that challenging version if they aren’t up to it.
It’s important to emphasize the “No Judgement” rule – encourage your seniors to celebrate the fact that they are exercising with you, without criticizing themselves for what they can’t do that day. I tell them “If you are moving and breathing, you’re doing it right!”
The most important thing (beside safety) is to make your senior adult fitness classes FUN! You want your participants to look forward to working out with you. Your class may very well be the highlight of your participant’s week, so keep it light and full of smiles. Encourage socialization, laughter, and enjoy!
Questions? Please feel free to visit FitTipsForPros.fit for a complete library of teaching tips for older adult fitness classes, or contact me using the form below. I’d love to hear from you!
Senior Fitness Professional