Active ageing: how to make your gym senior-friendly

By Salon Gold on May 22nd, 2023

You’re only as old as you feel. Statistics show that gym members aged 55 and up are now the fastest-growing segment of the fitness market, as more and more seniors embrace the transformative power of exercise.

The face of the average gym-goer is changing, yet the reality of working out as an old person isn’t always plain sailing, The Telegraph reports. There are numerous barriers that the elderly need to overcome, ranging from fear of injury and embarrassment to a lack of support and knowledge.

So how can you cater to this growing audience base and make the elderly feel more comfortable with the prospect of working out? Find out our top three tips for making your own gym senior-friendly below.

1. Offer in-depth inductions

Do you remember your first time working out at a gym? How did you feel? Confused? Overwhelmed? Intimidated? Now picture yourself doing this as a senior citizen, surrounded by selfie-snapping millennials, unfamiliar equipment, and ear-splitting EDM. It’s understandable that one third of over-55s feel discouraged from exercising in gyms.

Offering senior gym members an induction is a great way to help them feel more comfortable. Inductions should be led by a qualified fitness instructor and cover a variety of topics, including health and safety procedures, coaching on the equipment, a pre-exercise questionnaire, and any other questions that the person may have. Don’t rush through your time with each member though — particularly as elderly members are often at a higher risk of injury from improper use of equipment.

During the past year, the fitness sector has seen a dramatic digital revolution, with many clubs upgrading to cutting-edge equipment. To avoid discouraging active seniors and to boost their confidence in their abilities, it is important that your induction addresses how to work any high-tech machinery, software, and gamified equipment, such as the Peloton bike, Aviron rower and the smart mirror.

2. Run senior group classes

Tailored classes can be an effective way to cater to senior gym members. Group classes in particular offer a supportive community setting for older adults to work out in, as well as helping to combat loneliness, which is sadly prevalent among this demographic.

It’s important to note that, while standard classes are also an option, clients may have a history of injuries or health problems that could affect their ability to participate in certain workout regimens. Because of this, it’s vital to offer exercises that clients can do without making any health problems worse.

If you’re uncertain about what classes to provide, start with the basics: Pilates, treadmill walking, and chair yoga for seniors are all gentle options. However, if your gym has the resources and staff, you may want to offer more specialised classes, such as fall prevention, strength training, and resistance band sessions, to provide more variety and cater to a wider range of fitness levels and interests.

3. Train your team

You know that team training is crucial, but why is this? One significant reason is helping you to retain members — the lifeblood of any fitness centre. “Having well-trained gym staff who are engaging and promote a sense of community can help you cultivate a culture at your gym that aids in membership retention”, YBellFitness explains.

For senior gym-goers, who may feel awkward or embarrassed about starting an exercise routine, it’s crucial to foster a friendly and encouraging atmosphere — approaching these members with a friendly “hello” and a smile can go a long way! On that note, keep in mind that every single one of your customers is different; some seniors may welcome the extra attention, while others would prefer not to be treated differently because of their age.

That being said, many seniors seek professional help for their gym training, meaning it’s worthwhile investing in personal trainers who specialise in this demographic. These individuals should be well-versed in senior fitness and know how to communicate with older members to understand their goals, concerns, and limitations.

Final thoughts

There are several essential measures that should be implemented in order to make your gym senior-friendly, from offering in-depth inductions to appropriately training your team. However, it is important to understand that running a gym that caters to older adults can come with unique risks.

While older members are less likely to participate in high-impact activities, there is still a higher danger of injury when exercising, and even low-impact activities, such as yoga or pilates, can cause strains, sprains, and falls. Even if you take every precaution, accidents can still happen, and legal action from a client can result in significant financial losses.

To protect your business, it’s important to have public liability insurance, as without this, you could be liable for any medical expenses or damages from client injuries. Fitness Gold offers all-inclusive health and fitness insurance packages starting at just £61 per year. With comprehensive coverage, you can rest assured that your finances are protected, no matter what may happen.

For more information, give us a call on 020 8655 0444 or get a quote here.

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