I’m a newly certified trainer, at age 50, and I have a friend who I’m helping get started on a fitness program. I was thinking of starting her out on the machines, like I was 12 years ago. Mostly to get her comfortable with them so she can use them when I’m not around and also to just get her familiar with how all the muscles work individually. Would you say that’s the correct way to approach it? I’m only asking cause I don’t use machines anymore except for the back sometimes. I like more of the body weight functional exercises.
The best course would be to discuss the clients history and goals. Both are very important to make sure everyone is on the same page and whether the client is in need of medical clearance. Which isn’t a bad idea for anyone, but is absolutely necessary for a number of potential issues.
Then it would be best to at least assess ROM and postural issues. These both are good to address early on. Clients should begin with performing foundation movements and working to at least be able to assume a position of good posture, even if it is only temporarily. Other fitness assessments can also be performed. I find that which assessments would be helpful are uncovered during the teaching of foundation movements and working on improving posture.
Many clients and instructors want to go right to the resistance training with weights or machines, but a majority of clients will have inadequate strength, stability, and/or ROM for this. Adding weight to movements before teaching proper movement patterns will only make correcting movement and imbalance/compensation patterns that much more diffficult.
Sign a waiver, do a fitness assessment, set realistic goals according to the results of her assessment and then go from there. There is a lot of good information here posted from others, so it should give you an idea how to proceed. Machines are not a bad way to start training her and since only you know her, what her assessment, and health history and fitness goals are you are the one who can make the best decision for her. Progression is the best way to proceed.