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.
Back in the late 80s I was teaching cardio at a gym that had a really successful group fit. program. I used to sub occasionally this other person’s class, and was surprised to see there was a woman at the side who was not doing any of the traveling movements. It became clear that she was blind. What was quite wonderful was how the class built a strong community, partly because the one or two people near her would take it on themselves to give her a word or a tap, or hand her a weight, or whatever she needed. And it was a fabulous opportunity for me as a relatively new teacher…. I learned how what I said was heard, and to teach with words as well as with my own physical movements.
In the situation you describe you must, of course put safety first, and I agree with Harris that you want to make it simple and open …. say what you mean. I would also say to talk to her seperately and before you are all there for the class. It is good not to do it in front of everyone, and good not to give her time to look forward to doing it. It is also good if there are other opportunities you can offer her so she doesn’t feel excluded…. “I’ve thought about the design of this class and feel it is a bad match for you, as there would be safety issues (or whatever), but here are two other programs I am running which would provide a better benefit, without the safety concerns”
Remember you do not want to make her feel old and disabled. She already knows that. Focus on what she can do as much as on the things that do not work well for her.
Also take into account the feelings of the others in the group…. would they react to your not wanting her in the class? I’ve taught a number of senior classes and I find the group cohesiveness is remarkable.