Hi everyone, I’m developing a group fitness/circuit class for women aged 65-87. I’ve trained this population before, including the 87 year old, who is partially blind. I don’t think she is suitable to take the class because she really can’t see very well and would need a personal assistant; otherwise too much of my time will be drawn to her.
The class format is group warm-up, led by me, followed by partnering up for a circuit that consists of 8 stations/2 exercises each — done 2-3 times, ending with a group cool down. There isn’t enough equipment (barbells, etc) in this apartment gym to do it all as a group at the same time. Even when everyone can see, it still gets a bit chaotic as people figure out what exercise they’re doing and moving in the right direction.
Any words of wisdom on how to tell her I don’t think she’ll be able to do the class? Or, how would you handle it? Thanks.
Thank you all for your thoughtful answers. Just a few clarifications. I didn’t open the group up to this age range. They are all members of the same book club in the apartment building I live in. They contacted me about putting together a class for their members, and the co-leader of the group asked me to encourage the 87 year old not to attend after everyone got a chance to sign up.
To ask the other members of the group to help her would rob them of a workout they’re paying for, and it wouldn’t be fair to other members of the group for me to devote my time to one member for what would be a great deal of the session.
I think it’s best to validate her enthusiasm and abilities and be direct with saying that she would need an assistant in class to help her and keep her safe, then let her make the decision not to attend. Of course, I don’t want make her feel bad about herself regarding her challenges. I totally get it when it comes to people’s feelings.
If this is a close-knit group of exercisers, I wonder if her class will help look out for her. We have some groups of seniors at our club that are very good friends, have coffee together after class, dinner and theater outings. They’ve built community. Her inclusion might be more important to THEM than the specific class plan. Just a thought.
It’s hard when someone’s fitness declines to the point that they can’t participate any more, and there aren’t any easy answers. For my groups, the individuals have self-selected out of my group-ex classes over time into the classes more geared for seniors and I haven’t had to suggest to anyone that they not attend.
I don’t notice if you teach for a gym, if you own a studio, or if you’re an independent contractor. If you teach for a gym, you might want to discuss with your management team before talking to your member. That way, they’ll be heads-up on the issue, they might have some ideas, and there won’t be any gaps in understanding.
Have you asked her to bring a caregiver/assistant to class? I have worked with many clients with visual issues and I work with a group of people living with Parkinson’s disease. One of the rules of my classes is that if you need assistance to effectively participate, you must bring someone able to assist you. There are groups who provide such assistance, often for a low fee or free depending on insurance copays etc.
Some of the people are assisted by their spouse, who know them well and work well together.
I hope you can make it work, but don’t beat yourself up over it if it doesn’t work out. A few of the people that were not able to have assistance or chose not too, understood completely and signed up for private lessons.
it may well be that she cannot participate in the class. At the age of 87, there are probably many things she cannot do. Since you know her limitations, though, could you not have her be part of the group but do her own thing in a corner. Could you not talk to her and offer her participation with modifications which you have discussed upfront with her? Who is to say that you will not run into this problem with another participant? You open the class to ages 65 to 87 which is a w-i-d-e spread.
Alternatively, you can discuss her need of a dedicated assistant during the class.
It would be good if she could come to the decision not to participate on her own rather being told so.