I am looking at the choices in certification. I want to work with seniors; I’m in my early 50’s myself. But looking at the different programs, I don’t know if it’s best to do group training or personal training? I would like to do both, but I can’t find the right combination geared toward seniors. Group training seems to be focused on classes for younger folks, not what seniors would do.
Hi! You can actually do BOTH! Many trainers, including myself do this. Nowadays, personal trainers are conducting small group training classes that offer ‘personal training’ in a small group setting. In my opinion, going the Personal Trainer certification route will give you a bit more flexibility to do what you want to do (train in both a group and personal training setting).
Good luck! I hope that this helps.
I am also in my 50s. I used to do personal training and group ex. Now the only individualized training I do is with yoga, which is my main area.
It is a good first step to know you want to work with an older population. While the flexibility to meet diverse needs is good, really deeply understanding a specific population can be a great way to build your business.
One thing which I would suggest is to look at opportunities in your community. Unless you have the flexibility to move to where the work is, you will need to consider what work is available where you are. Look at gyms, senior centers, exercise studios, personal training studios, YMCAs or JCCs, and hospital based groups. How saturated is the market? How full are the group ex classes? What is the pay rate? What is the local standard in terms of what sort of training/certifications people are expected to attain? Knowing the lay of the land may help you make some proactive choices as you position yourself to enter the market.
Also, down the road don’t give up the idea that you might wish to do both one on one and group. The trainings and certifications both cost, so you will probably want to start on one end, but having both can be useful. If you have difficulty getting enough clients to do training full time teaching some group classes can help bring in money. Also, teaching group gives you exposure and sometimes brings in individual clients.
The main thing with an older population is that you can try to market toward the highly fit older population, but if you do not you will need to have enough training to understand, with some depth the health issues that tend to arise in that group, about medications, about arthritis, and so on.
Actually group classes for an older group are fun to teach, and (I have found) often well attended.
the others have already pointed out the differences, and they did it well enough. You are making assumptions, though, that group fitness is only geared towards younger people. I would suggest that you check the Senior Fitness Association which has a certification for senior group fitness that may suit your needs. Here is a link: http://www.seniorfitness.net/
Wish you good luck and a happy New Year.
Hi S. Boyd,
I’m going to take the approach where one is not necessarily better than the other–just serving different needs. As an instructor, you will have multiple people in your class. While this can occasionally present some challenges with watching for individual issues, you can always screen the class prior to starting to identify any areas that may present an issue. The aging population is growing–and the benefits for teaching this population are numerous and wonderful. Classes such as Silver Sneakers are great for seniors and are geared specifically for their needs. We have senior group programs where I work, and I’ve seen a wonderful sense of community and belonging–as well as individuals who are improving their cardio endurance, functional strength, flexibility, and overall health. Not all seniors want or need a personal trainer.
However, as a personal trainer to that population, you are obviously going to address their specific needs and plan a program based on their goals. One on one is very different than teaching a group of people, but that is obvious. You are there to cater to a specific need that client has and will know their limitations.
Again, one is not necessarily better than the other–teaching group fitness is just different than personal training. I do both, and feel like a better fitness professional because of the overlap. They have complimented each other in many ways. However, if I had to pick one to start, I would go with personal training to give you a foundation for this population. The fact that you have a passion and interest in this population will take you far.
I could see why you are struggling to make a decision between one on one and group because both have distinct advantages. For a group setting, I think the community atmosphere that helps can present is s natural draw for seniors. Think about it. Exercise as it a science grows pretty quickly. New equipment, new techniques, and new personalities pop up in droves each year. This really can be overwhelming, especially for an older generation. So I think the comraderie and that feeling “of not being alone” are incredible. That being said, groups in general present problems.
Its obvious that as an instructor, you have just two eyes. Working with the elderly, this makes things all the more complicated. Being that there background with exercise won’t be on par with the professional challenges your communication skills quite a bit. So demonstration and explanatory will be taxed. The other (and more important) thing is that each senior will come with their own set
Of conditions, which makes it very difficult to ensure that everyone is exercising safely.
With that being said, this is how you coups really separate yourself as a group instructor for seniors. Come up with a system so that you can screen each of your participants for movement quality. Go through and evaluate their postures from toe to head. This can give you the advantages of runn I ng a camp that is prescriptive and can allow for growth of function. Think about it. What a great model this could be if you could run sessions that could improve the functional capacities if the elderly.
Hope this helps,