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Working with Special Populations: Elderly


Being a personal trainer comes with just as many challenges, perks, satisfactions and achievements as any other job.

Working with Special Populations: Elderly

One of the skills that you will need to have or develop as a personal trainer is definitely the skill of good communication. You will have to deal with people that come from every walk of life and being able to communicate clearly and efficiently will make the training process much easier.

Also, you might find yourself working with special groups of clients such as elderly people who, due to their age or specific illnesses, have lost some of their body’s normal functioning and have diminished strength, flexibility or endurance, or who have a slower metabolism or other chemical deficiencies. These should not, by any means, be issues that deter an ambitious and dedicated personal trainer from working with a client.

With people in the UK generally living longer lives than ever before, and being willing to do more to maintain their health and fitness into old age, elderly populations are definitely a lucrative training niche that is worth exploring for personal trainers.

Working with elderly people requires personal trainers to be understanding of the fact that the later stages of adult life come with various health problems that mean people are not able to exercise as much or with the same intensity as when they were younger. Having a significantly less active lifestyle can result in a loss of muscle and bone mass and also can accelerate the progress of certain degenerative diseases.

How can a personal trainer help an elderly person?

Helping an elderly person get back into or maintain a good condition for their age is certainly possible. A qualified and competent personal trainer knows exactly how to assess an individual’s fitness level and will know what areas to focus on improving. Endurance, flexibility and strength are some of the main things that a personal trainer will focus on when working with elderly clients, and no matter how old someone is, exercise will always benefit their quality of life.

Analysis of an elderly client’s diet and the creation of a good nutrition plan will be just as important, because a good diet with the right intake of vitamins and minerals is more essential during old age than at any previous time of life.

What qualifications would you need in order to work with elderly clients?

In order to be able to work with special populations such as the elderly, you will need to possess an Level 3 GP Referral Qualification.

What are the basics of training seniors?

Keep the following things in mind:

  1. Before beginning a training regime, always make sure that an elderly client (or indeed any client) has no diseases or illnesses that might prevent them from exercising safely. Make sure the client has obtained a note from their doctor that clears them for exercise.
  2. Cardiovascular exercise should be done at a medium to relaxed pace, at low intensity and with only a smooth progression (think a light walk, a swim, a bike ride, etc). Warming up and stretching out before exercise are essential.
  3. Keep a close eye on your client and ask if the exercise is okay for them or if they are feeling any discomfort (especially in their backs and knees).
  4. Strength training can be extremely beneficial, so aim for one or two sessions per week consisting of about thirty minutes at a moderate intensity (aim for a progressive weight training programme or calisthenics).


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