Congratulations on your class Janet.
Before I suggest a format or exercises, I think it might be a good idea to ask yourself:
1. What is the objective of the class?
2. Overtime, what training adaptations are trying to achieve for with the group?
3. What aspects of function will you be addressing as you teach the class?
4. What is your viewpoint of functional fitness/training.
Think about the above Janet and write your answers down. They will serve to be a good reference as you design your class.
As you look at your class, are you able to determine from the way that they move or from their static posture whether or not there are deficits in balance, flexibility and or strength? Those are all areas of function that we all can improve upon.
Too, you are likely aware that as we age we lose flexibility, balance and strength. Those three aspects of fitness might be areas you could consider including in your class as you prepare it. Any loss in those areas lead to movement inefficiency.
See if you can find articles on this site relating to functional efficiency, functional balance, functional strength and functional flexibility that might assist you in coming up with programming ideas for your class.
I wish you the best for your class.
In order to teach anything functional – you may want to understand the definition of functional training yourself. Then you must understand what your target population you will be training functions are. This can be done through some formal assessment process which would obviously take a quite a bit of time but would provide for a much more structured class.
Fuel the Movement,
I want to add to Joanne’s excellent suggestions.
Be aware that as soon as you are labeling a class 50+, you are likely to attract a group of people who are not very fit and may be novice exercisers. 50+ is often a definition of ‘older adult’. I myself, even though I am 56, would probably not attend such a class because it is not the view I have of myself.
The challenge with classes is that you do not have control over who shows up, and individual assessments are not possible.
Starting with exercises to improve range of motion and flexibility are a good start, also balance as long as it can be done safely.
I teach a Healthy Heart class to people generally aged over 65+ but none of them are in chairs, they are all “functional” getting up and down steps and up and down off the floor. I modify for anyone new who can’t do these basic “functional” tasks.
Because I know my target audience because I have taught it for years, I can tell you the more “functional” of a class you can teach the older population the more fun and health you will bring to them.
Here are a few things I do 3 days per week with them:
1. Warm up walking around track for 5 minutes
2. Standing stretching for 10 minutes
3. Basic aerobics or easy dance step aerobics for 2 songs – then check heart rate and get water.
4. Partner exercises:
– throwing large stability balls back and forth from about 15-20 feet away – pending ability.
– rolling small medicine balls like they are bowling and throwing it under a leg, from behind and switching tossing arms.
– passing balls back and forth side to side, standing back to back
– dribble the large stability ball around the track
– use stretchy resistance bands and do standing exercises
– get water and have people switch partners or ask their partner a question about themselves to get them talking socially.
5. We then sit on the stability balls and do core exercises: crunches, side oblique twists, arms circles, bending down to our knees, etc. working on balance too.
6. Stationary standing balance exercises, tree, airplane, mountain poses.
7. Head to the floor and stretch more deep, breathing exercises and talk to them about nutrition
I don’t over exercise them, they get tired easily they older they are. They want to be healthy not enter Boot Camp competitions. They are interested in getting to know others so I make sure I include social interaction and a game or two for those who are a little competitive – it makes them all laugh.
Stretching and balance are probably the most important things for an older aged class or those starting out who are “older”.
The exercises I do are functional. We do squats because we squat to use the toilet, get in the car and in a chair. We do reaching exercises because we reach for things all day. I focus on the core for back strength and talk to them about not twisting while bending to pick up something heavy.
I would suggest asking them what is their favorite music. Try to learn some of the steps or moves from those charts. Even doing the YMCA or Macarana dance or even the Chicken Dance has been a huge hit to warm up with. It let’s out stress and gives everyone a good laugh.
Best of Blessings!