Older adults are my favorite group to work with. I always start out with a balance assessment just so that I know what they are capable of. It also helps build their confidence a little bit because I find that a lot of them can do more than they think, they just lack the confidence.
From there, I do many of the things that other people have mentioned, but I always make sure I have a variety prepared. Some people absolutely won’t try walking without a walker, but they can stand on one foot with their eyes closed without holding on to anything. I try to stay just within their comfort zone, but still make it challenging. Anything that I can turn into a competition also seems to work well. We do obstacle courses, workouts tossing balls around, and walking interval workouts and most older adults generally enjoy all of those. You may look at the ICAA website for more ideas (www.icaa.cc).
I like exercises that incorporate medicine balls, elastic bands, some free weights, stationary bike, walking, body weight squats and leg extensions. Of course each senior client is different and has his/her own limitations and challenges so depending on their condition I use the appropriate equipment and exercises. They are fun to work with.
I am a Pilates Instructor and the spring tension I use with them on the equipment unloads and opens the joints so they feel taller with better posture and more stretched after a session. I usually start them lying down, then sitting, and then finish the session standing with some balance work so they feel strong and balanced when they leave the studio. I do lots of foot and ankle work as well to help improve their flexibility and strength for better balance. Foam rollers and rolling the feet over balls is very helpful.
I love teaching all of my formats. I use the same guidelines for all clients. Progressions are done as tolerated and regressions are done as needed. My senior clients all like the fact that I don’t treat them like they are unable to put in an effort. Each participant works at their own level.
If I had to pick one, it would probably be my aquatic exercise class. Most people think aquatic exercise is “exercise lite”. But I can adjust this workout for arthritis one hour and elite athlietes the next.