Hi, I have a 69-year-old female client whom I’ve just started working with. She wants to lose about 20 pounds, and tone and strengthen. While I understand that our hormone profile changes as we age, especially after menopause (and she’s had a hysterectomy), and the trim silhouette we had when we were younger, if at an ideal weight, can be more challenging to maintain. I get it.
Nonetheless, my client doesn’t want to do planks, push-ups, Russian twists or really anything on the floor to tighten her core. She also doesn’t want to do squats or lunges because she doesn’t want to aggravate her hip bursitis.
I’m a bit frustrated coming up with exercises to strengthen her core and back. She also says she knows what she needs to do to lose weight — it’s a portion control issue, she says — but have a feeling that she’s not up for problem solving her weight issue. Any suggestions for exercises or how to deal with her to maintain a positive client relationship. Thanks.
I have an entire class of 20 plus over 60 year olds who won’t lie on the floor…. so this makes me smile a bit.
I would have to say that until I was pregnant I did not truly understand the range of shifts I would have to make in my fitness, and when I passed 50 and had some arthritis myself I understood better what it means to wake up stiff, or to have to put a hand on the car when I get out if I’ve been driving for a while. And bursitis is very painful, so you can understand why she might fear going there.
And I exercise a lot, so I can imagine how it is for someone less used to it.
What I am saying is this. The teacher/student relationship is not one sided. You give your clients an enormous gift of health and strength and fitness. Any client will give you the enormous gift of learning how to meet their unique needs. But it is rarely a case of one person needing to do things exactly as the other dictates.
I would also ask you to consider the difference between the language ‘won’t’ and ‘can’t’ and ‘is not ready yet to’. If you meet her with the idea that if you open a door and she balks at going through it means she is just stubborn it is unlikely you will get her through. I’ve had students I’ve worked with for years before I can get them to where they are physically ready, and more importantly where they trust me and trust their bodies enough to move someplace.
Practically speaking there are a few choices here:
1. you can honor her physical and psychological place and hone your creativity an flexibility by strengthening her in ways in which she is comfortable, while building a bond of trust, eventually giving her new things in small doses as she is ready for them.
2. you can suggest a different trainer for her, and make space on your schedule for a student who will match you better, and with whom you can make swifter strides. And I make no judgement here….. there are a few types of student (not many, but a few) with whom I do not work well, and I would much rather they get what they need, and I do not waste time beating a locked door)
3. you can set an ultimatum and say that she needs to agree to do things your way for a month and see if it works. Of course she is then free not to accept it.
we have to meet our clients where they are. You have just starting to work with this client, and rapport and trust is not something that happens immediately. By the way you are describing the start of your relationship so far, you seem to have headed in the opposite direction.
It will probably not be easy to recover from the situation you are in right now. Looking at Ariadne’s excellent three alternatives, only # 1 and 2 are realistic options. Perhaps you can step back and start over.
Ariadne and Karin have already given you good answers on the psychological side.
Have you considered using exercise bands or fabric-covered tubing for core, chest, and back? I teach a circuit class where for the first 35 minutes we stay upright (just for efficiency and not getting anyone dizzy as the rotation from station to station is pretty quick). If you attach tubing (I use the 41 inch rubber bands) at about chest height, you can do chest flies, rows, oblique rotation, all sorts of things. And bands are pretty non-threatening to the new exerciser.
In the center of this website page is the youtube link to this gentleman’s content.
He is a physical therapist who uses the bands for many things. You can search through (there is a ton of content) and find exercises appropriate for your client.
You might also search the exercise library here or on ptonthenet (ptonthenet isn’t free)