One of the hardest elements of training people over 60 is getting them as clients in the first place. As a certified personal trainer, I have found that there are four basic reasons why this demographic is relatively reluctant to hire a personal trainer, even though they have reached an age where they need guided training more than ever. Once you acquaint yourself with these four reasons, you will find that it’s easier than ever to approach seniors, and you will be better prepared in how to approach them and what to focus on.
There may be many senior men and women at the club you work at. But getting them to hire you is an art all in itself. Late mornings and early afternoons are when most of the seniors work out. Seniors who are retired, definitely have the time. And many are financially comfortable. So why, then, is this such a hard group to win over?
ONE: Many older adults are proud and convinced that they know a lot about the way things work. So when some “kid” approaches them about personal training, they don’t think that the “kid” can teach them anything worthwhile, even though the personal trainer may be 40-something.
TWO: Older men and women often cannot relate to a much younger trainer with a chiseled or tight, toned body. Very few trainers are seniors themselves, though they are out there, for sure.
THREE: Some seniors may be afraid to hire a trainer, fearing that the trainer would be too rough on them. After all, they have seen the trainer put younger clients through the ringer, and believe this is the kind of training that they’d receive. Do you train your young clients out in the open for everyone to see? This will scare off prospective senior clients. Take your young, strong (and even not so strong) clients to a more private area of the gym where seniors won’t see you “torturing” them.
FOUR: Some seniors believe that once you reach a certain age, there is no point in spending a lot of money on a trainer.
The vast majority of seniors simply do not know how to work out. Look around and you’ll see what I mean. They often improperly use the lat pull-down machine, handle dumbbells with bad posture, and do not know how to do abdominal routines effectively. I’m not talking strength output here. I’m talking technique and body position.
So if you’d like to start approaching seniors, look at the ones on the following equipment: lat pull-down, crunch machines, seated row equipment, and also observe the ones doing triceps push-downs with the rope, especially women. As a general rule, senior women do triceps push-downs all wrong. Also keep an eye on seniors handling dumbbells; most seem lost or are executing bad form.
However, do approach seniors who use good form as well. The key is finding a senior who is receptive. Senior women can be very receptive and grateful when a trainer starts speaking to them. However, it’s not uncommon for them to react as though they already know what they are doing. Senior men are often the same way, especially if the trainer is a female.