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

by Joy Keller on Apr 24, 2014

Some fitness professionals aren’t fans of the term anti-aging. Why? If you’re anti-aging, you’re 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? Pro-aging, on the other hand, connotes a positive approach to birthdays. This positive energy was evident at 2014 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute™ West, in Seattle, where 500 personal trainers from all over the country were on a pro-aging path, setting a new standard for the rest of the world.

When we look at the fitness industry, we find that many pros have long since celebrated their 50th and even 60th birthdays. While society at large may want to keep veteran trainers in a box 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 (or 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 growing older-adult population also offers enormous potential for fitness pros who know how to gear their services to the over-50 crowd. “Over the last 5 years we have significantly increased the number of educational sessions at IDEA events geared toward pro-aging, older adults and Baby Boomer training as we see the aging population growing. Our goal is to provide fit pros with the education they need to be qualified to lead this demographic,” says Aprile Peishel, IDEA director of event programming.

Many sessions from the 2014 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute—and others planned for the upcoming IDEA World Fitness Convention™—support the pro-aging concept and give attendees tips on how to support themselves and their clients through the process of accumulating somatic experience. Here are some highlights from the recent event:

  • Pete McCall reminded trainers that no two people age in exactly the same way, and he touted the benefits of heavy resistance training.
  • Brian Richey, owner of Fit 4 Life in Washington, DC, 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 older 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 "BOSU: Mobility and Stability for Active Aging," led by Lawrence Biscontini, MA, and Bernadette O'Brien. Yes, seniors can use this piece of equipment. And guess what? At age 84, O'Brien is IDEA's oldest presenter! Don’t miss a special IDEA World postconference session on this topic where you can earn a Level 1 Certification.
  • 2013 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Brett Klika likened trainers to Walt Disney and small-group training programs to Disneyland in his session “Fun and Function: Adult Fitness Games.” “If you train kids, you know how important it is to just get them to play,” Klika says. “Well, your adults need play time too! Get them out of their heads and into their bodies, in the present moment, where all the fun is.”
  • In her session “The ‘M’ Word—Let’s Talk About Menopause,” Maria Luque, PhD, dispelled rumors and pulled back the shroud of secrecy on this topic while giving attendees the latest research and exercise guidelines.
  • Lenny Parracino, a faculty member for the Gray Institute of Applied Functional Science, encouraged trainers to be “tweakologists” and to view clients in an omnidirectional manner. “If you are using anatomical guidelines published 30 years ago to train your clients, you’re doing them a major disservice,” he said.

So the next time someone tries to convince you or your client that activity has to stop at a certain age, think of the older client who can squat better than most 30-year-olds; and 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.

For more education on the topic of pro-aging, training older adults and baby boomers and many other subjects, and to learn more about the 2014 IDEA World Fitness Convention in Anaheim, August 13–17, visit www.ideafit.com/world. Take advantage of early-bird pricing, which ends June 27.

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 12, Issue 5

© 2014 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki level 3 practitioner.