I get it. I don’t look like a 20-year old.
But don’t make a BIG mistake and assume I can’t workout like one. An experience this morning brought about my thoughts on this blog: about helping trainers, instructors and coaches out there learn about what to look for in clients; how to work with them and how to never ever assume that because a woman (or man for that matter) is older, that they are weaker…….this could be a big mistake and you could be losing a client because of this assumption.
I attended a class at a small gym with a friend as her guest this morning. It was a great workout (what isn’t? You get out of it what you put in – so every workout is a great one!). Really nice young woman teaching the bootcamp. However she made a few assumptions; which sort of ended up with me doing a social experiment (I’m odd that way)…to see how long or if, she would see the signs and change how she viewed me (and ultimately other, 40+ participants). Some points that came out of this experiment:
Don’t take your 40+ clients at face value
K. I know I am a little rounder in places; always have been. I perhaps don’t appear super-toned like some (I’ve always said, I have AWESOME toned muscles under my outer body lol!). But. I’ve been working out and extremely athletic since, well….basically since I jumped out of the womb. I’ve been doing this a LONG time……as have many other “older” clients out there. There are some very strong people in life who may not look it…but are.
Shine Take-home: don’t assume by looking at someone what their fitness level is.
ASK. Ask them what they’ve done before; you might be surprised!
This would have been simple. Had she asked if I’d done a bootcamp class before, I could have said yes. Had she asked if I work out a lot, I could have said yes. From these responses, she could have asked a multitude of other questions to find out my level….and understood I’m not a beginner.
Shine Take-Home: Ask the questions…..find out what people have done, or do…..don’t decide yourself without asking about THEM.
It’s all in how you word things
First exercise in our group of stations was tossing that darned medicine ball against the wall for a minute. Her explanation of it to me was to show me the actual way to do it….and then to instead tell me to do the easy option. Assuming right there that this is the option I’d go for. Oh….she really didn’t know me!
Shine Take-away: Would have been so much better to show me all the options for the exercise – and then offer for me to pick the modification that works best for me.
Don’t get me wrong; I am all about showing people every option – and even a lighter version as the way to go if you feel you hit the wall. I do this with my clients all the time. It’s important to know what the option is once your body can’t go anymore at a certain level…but that is totally different to assuming right off the bat that someone needs to take a lighter level.
You could be losing clients if you think older participants are less capable
I’d been nice little me for a long while now as this experiment went on until we got to a move which incorporated burpee, renegade row, and push up. Right away she went to the renegade row on her knees to show me. After many stations where she’d been able to see my form, energy level and always going for the option which was tougher – she still insisted on showing me the lighter option. Even AFTER another participant (who I secretly think was trying to help educate the young gal by saying this…) asked how long I’d worked out, and so kindly stated how strong I am (talk about making my day; sometimes we can be our own worst critics and to hear someone make such a compliment was so appreciated!), the Trainer still missed the mark. Every time.
Shine Take-home: Some “older” participants have been doing this a VERY long time. We were all young once; and some have been in athletics and training our entire life. You WILL come across these people…so stop thinking of older as less capable.
Don’t compare older participants with other participants of their age in the class. Perhaps there are many who are getting back into the workout world; perhaps some are less fit than others….it’s great all different types are out there trying to be healthy, strong and to lead a fit life. I myself work with many and not only commend them, but truly admire them. Anyone who puts their health as a priority – well, has their priorities straight: you are NOTHING without your health. Take it from me who’s been challenged a multitude of times in this regard. However, because your class is full of people who are older….and even if they look alike in build…..or if the majority of your class that come religiously are getting back into a fitness regime by doing a bootcamp – you can’t compare a new participant to your group with those you already know.
Shine Take-home: I said it before, I’ll say it again: ASK the questions. Never compare participants. Find out the details before you head down a road of irking a new client!
Always offer an environment that is welcoming. This means every person, every age. Take each person as one…..avoid lumping them into a group of abilities because you are assuming. You could be losing some great clients, cheerleaders and it goes without saying, income…if you take this approach. Personally, I’m not going to point this out to a trainer in front of a group; nor will I tout my ability in a way that just makes me look like an ass. I let my actions speak for themselves – however, this time they were completely ignored.
If there’s ONE thing you can do today as a trainer, coach, instructor – it’s to never ever assume anything about your participants. Ask the questions, listen to the answers, and embrace those who perhaps have more years than you – yet who are very qualified. It’s a beautiful thing to see!
This point applies to everything: If you offer a tough class full of ultra fit people and a new person walks in…find out about them. Don’t assume they can do everything at the advanced level. Take the time to find out and you’ll be creating a long line of clients who totally appreciate you.
Coach Carolyn is a Motivational Speaker, ACE Health Coach and Personal Trainer, Cheerleader of others and so much more. Her life experiences have made her who she is and she’s taken it on as a mission to share these with as many as will listen. She survived almost dying at 28 and has had constant health challenges. Health and fitness have brought her through and she wants to help women “shine” from the inside out.
As a result of confidence and body image challenges in her younger years (k…maybe older too….) she decided she wanted to make a difference in children’s lives so created Bring It Impact Events Inc. A social enterprise aimed to helping as many children and young adults succeed in life. It may have taken her 45 years to “grow up” and know what she wanted to do….but she’s doing it all now and hoping she can make an impact in the life, health and wellness for as many as possible.
Oh. And she LOVES to laugh.