Pro-Aging: How the Fitness Industry is Setting a New Standard

Who says aging can't be fun?

April12, 2014

I'm just going to come out and say it: I am not a fan of the term "anti-aging." Why? Well, if you are anti-aging, you are anti-living. We're all aging every second of every day--some of us on a faster track, yes, but the point is aging is natural and healthy. Why fight it? I prefer the term "pro-aging" because it connotes a positive approach to birthdays. From what I can see here at the 2014 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute in Seattle, everyone is on the pro-aging path and setting a new standard for the rest of the world.

Many attendees have long celebrated their 50th and even 60th birthdays. Some have been personal trainers for more than 10-15 or 20 years and others are making personal training a second career. While society at large may want to keep veteran trainers in a box that is labeled "rest and retire," these masters are just getting started. No one told them they shouldn't be able to do a burpee at 65 (if they did get that message, they ignored it). Sure, the body changes as the years pass, but does that mean loss of function and vitality?

The trainers here say "no!" One attendee showed a small group of people a video on her smartphone (that quickly went viral) of her 93-year-old client doing flawless squats. Clearly, he didn't need to buy a taller toilet because he'd lost the ability to move his body through space in this very important manner. Indeed, he's just one example of many that proves aging isn't necessarily a self-made prison.

Many sessions supported the pro-aging concept and gave attendees tips on how to support themselves and their clients through the process of accumulating somatic experience.

  • Pete McCall reminded trainers that no two people age exactly the same and he touted the benefits of heavy resistance training.
  • Brian Richey, owner of Fit 4 Life in Washington, D.C., shared techniques for helping clients over 75 maintain as high a level of function as possible in his session "Functional Maintenance for Clients Over 75." As an aside, did you know that most fractures among other adults are caused by falls? And if an older adult doesn't fall, he or she may still deal with the fear of falling.
  • Active aging (another great alternative to "anti-aging") was the topic of Lawrence Biscontini, MA, and Bernadette O'Brien's session "BOSU: Mobility and Stability for Active Aging." Yes, seniors can use this piece of equipment. And guess what? O'Brien is IDEA's oldest presenter at age 84!

So the next time someone tries to convince you or your client that activity has to stop at a certain age, think of the client who can squat better than most 30 year olds, and also be inspired by O'Brien, who could probably run circles around most of us. Be pro-aging in your attitude and marketing. Be an example every year of what it looks like to move and age with grace and gratitude.

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Joy Keller

IDEA Author/Presenter
Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and is also a certified personal t... more less

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