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Entries in older adults (10)


This Week in the Fitness Industry: 700 Anytime Fitness Gyms to Host Free Outdoor Workouts

700 Anytime Fitness Gyms to Host Free Outdoor Workouts
Hundreds of Anytime Fitness gyms will host free outdoor exercise events nationwide, according to a release. The “May Free Workouts” began in 2015 as a grassroots effort by a few Anytime Fitness gyms, and has grown into a nationwide campaign to promote physical activity. About 700 facilities are expected to participate, hosting activites such as yoga in the park, Zumba classes, kickboxing lessons, and tug-of-war competitions. “We believe a healthy lifestyle is achievable for anyone,” said Chuck Runyon, co-founder & CEO of Anytime Fitness. “May Free Workouts are designed to encourage community members to get up and move in an active, motivating atmosphere. Because when fitness is enjoyable and done in an encouraging, fun environment, it becomes easy to reach your goals.”

Continue reading "This Week in the Fitness Industry: 700 Anytime Fitness Gyms to Host Free Outdoor Workouts."

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3 Keys to Successful Health Club Programming for Older Adults

Exercise is good for older adults—and older adults are good for your health club.

The global population is getting older—11.7% of the Earth’s population is over age 60, and this share is expected to grow to 21% by 2050. Fortunately for health clubs, older adults are more active than ever before, and the medical and public health communities are increasingly noting the mental and physical health benefits of remaining active into older age.

Older adults are one of the fastest growing membership groups—health club memberships climbed 72% among people older than 55 between 2005 and 2015. Many older adults are retired, so they have the time to join a health club. They can fill off-peak hours in the club, and tend to be some of the most loyal members.

Continue reading "3 Keys to Successful Health Club Programming for Older Adults."

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Boom or Bust? Get Baby Boomers Flocking to Your Gym

Globally, 11.7% of the world population is over age 60, and this share is expected to grow to 21% by 2050. There are currently 75 million Baby Boomers, making them one of the fastest growing membership groups.

When Boomers join a club, they are looking for a few key things: 

  • Prevention of future chronic disease
  • Control of any current chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Reversal of aging’s negative effects
  • Full participation in life and in activities they enjoy

The latest evidence suggests that exercise is beneficial for adults of all ages, and a significant amount of research concludes that exercise can help to prevent, delay, and treat many diseases and conditions that affect individuals as they age.

Older adults are also good for your club—they are one of the fastest growing membership groups. This group has the time to join a health club, can fill off-peak hours in the club, and tend to be some of the most loyal members. Independence is a top priority for them, and physical activity in the social environment of a health club can help them maintain it.

Here are some tips for attracting—and keeping—boomers in your club.

Offer Classes that Meet Their Needs

One way to get the attention of older adults and attract them to your club is to offer group exercise classes that meet their specific, unique needs. The health and age of Boomers varies greatly, so try offering a wide range of classes. A few ideas include: 

1. Restorative or Modified Yoga

Yoga is great for stability, flexibility, and balance. Restorative yoga can help improve flexibility and strength, and chair yoga offers an alternative for people who are unable to get up and down from the floor to a traditional mat. Chair yoga is also a great way to include people who may be wheelchair bound.

2. Aquatic Aerobics

Water’s buoyancy creates less impact on bones and joints, making aquatic aerobics a good alternative for older adults with arthritis or sore joints, or people with bone and joint injuries, to get their 150 minutes of weekly moderate activity.

Continue reading "Boom or Bust? Get Baby Boomers Flocking to Your Gym."

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5 Types of Exercise for People with Dementia

The following is an excerpt from a Department of Health & Human Services blog post written by Alexandra Black, health promotion manager for IHRSA. 

Regular physical activity can reduce the likelihood of developing dementia. Physical activity can also help improve cognition in adults with some mild cognitive decline. Some research has also found benefits for people with fully progressed Alzheimer’s disease—in one study cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with reduced brain atrophy. 

Older adults, particularly those over 55, may experience a number of barriers to exercise including cost, lack of mobility, existing chronic illness, fear of injury, intimidation, and low self-efficacy. 

Recreational and community fitness centers are well positioned to help people at risk for or dealing with dementia improve their health and quality of life. Group exercise classes can be especially beneficial, as they involve social interaction. Below are five types of exercise classes that recreational facilities can offer that are great for people at risk for or in the early stages of dementia. 

1. Restorative Yoga 

Restorative yoga is a lower intensity form of yoga focused on breathing, posture, and gentle movements. Yoga can improve balance and flexibility, which are both important for a group at higher risk for falls. Chair yoga is also a good alternative for people who have lost some mobility or have a lower body injury.

2. Functional Training 

Many older adults rate independence as a top priority, and its loss in older adults often results from reduced ability to perform movements required for everyday life like sitting and standing from a chair or reaching food off the top shelf. Classes and activities focused on strengthening the muscles and coordination required to perform these activities can help people stay independent longer.

3. Aquatic Exercise

Water’s buoyance means workouts done in the pool generate less impact on bones and joints. This makes aquatic aerobics or swimming a good option for people looking to improve aerobic fitness under lower impact conditions. Aerobic exercise can also help stimulate blood flow to the brain and help improve sleep qualityExternal Link: You are leaving

4. Dance-based Fitness 

During dance fitness classes, participants often need to remember different steps, and in some cases interact with a partner.  This offers participants a fun way to be physically active, build aerobic fitness, be social, and challenge the mind and memory.

5. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a relaxing, low impact form of exercise that has been shown to help improve sleep quality, muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.

Continue reading "5 Types of Exercise for People with Dementia" on HHS' Be Active Your Way blog.


Health Benefits of Exercise: Jan. 13, 2014

A compilation of recent research on the benefits of exercise and nutrition.

New year, new report name

The new year is often a time for new beginnings, as people resolve to change their lifestyle, diet, and exercise habits to become fitter and healthier. In 2014, we would like to introduce to you a new and improved health benefits of exercise newsletter, the "Health Benefits of Exercise Report." Just like Health e-Review, the report provides you with biweekly summaries of the latest research on the health benefits of regular exercise and healthy habits, with articles pulled from the thousands published in the online biomedical research database PubMed, and summed up in easy-to-read and share formats.

You will surely notice a few changes, mostly:

  • A more visual, easy-on-the-eyes design for the posters and print newsletter
  • A brand new look for the e-mail newsletter
  • Issues sorted by date, not volume, so you can search through them more quickly

More updates will be coming this year, as we publish a searchable archive of all our health benefits of exercise research and unveil new health promotion resources. 

This Week in Health Benefits of Exercise Report 

1. Barriers and Enablers to Physical Activity Among Older Adults

2. Exercise and Nutritional Guidance Benefit Middle-aged and Older Japanese Women 

3. Aerobic Exercise Program Improves Health Parameters In Obese Children

Health Benefits of Exercise Report is available for IHRSA members only. To read this week's Health Benefits of Exercise, click here. For other member-only resources, visit


IHRSA Webinar: Servicing the health needs for older adults

It is no secret that the largest population, or the fastest growing, in many countries is the older generation - those who have retired or are nearing that time, usually in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

It certainly is not an age group that most clubs cater to. The large majority do not want to be at a club, and as far as retention goes, they are less likely to be longtime members.

Maureen Hagan is an expert in the area of programming for older adults. She is leading the next IHRSA Webinar, sponsored by Cybex, “Booming Opportunity: Servicing the Health & Fitness Needs of Older Adults,” on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Read on for more on older adults programming webinar.


Serving People Over 50: A Paradigm Shift Is in Order

© Monkey Business -

Did you know that, right now, older adults in the U.S. command more than $900 billion in spending power? That they’ll number more than 115 million by 2020? And, that they’re not adverse to technology, as the stereotype suggests? If these facts are at all surprising, then you’ll want to read more in Patricia Glynn’s blog, based on an interview with Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). Milner puts forth some thoughtful ideas for better addressing the changing needs of this special population now and in the future. Read more.

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What Types And Quantities of Equipment Are Recommended for a New Health Club/Spa Concept for the 40+ Market?

Joan Carter, Steve Krum, Mark Stevens and Deborah A. Smith discuss the quantity of equipment recommended for a new health club/spa/medspa concept aimed at the 40-year-old plus market in this week's Best Practices

Q: "What types and quantities of equipment do you recommend for a new health club/spa/medspa concept aimed at the 40+ demographic and an estimate of 3,500 members? (Heavier in the cardio area, lighter in free weights)"

A: Selection of equipment best suited for an older demographic is becoming more and more important because seniors are one of the fastest growing segments of Health Club members.  As a general matter, people interested in maintaining an active and healthy life style as they get older need to concentrate on strength development.  From age 30, we begin to lose strength, power and muscular endurance.  The only way to slow that down and prevent loss of functional performance is to incorporate strength training as a primary part of any exercise routine.  Not all people are starting from the same point.  Some 60 year olds are healthier, stronger and more fit than some 20 year olds.  Using free weight exercise in addition to other training tools may be very appropriate for exercisers who have a modest fitness level already.  People deciding to get back into a fit lifestyle after a long hiatus will likely need more stability in their workout and should begin with seated selectorized machines or something like the Cybex Bravo functional trainers with progressive stabilization. For both groups, however, steady state cardio exercise is not necessarily the best choice.  Interval training on cardio equipment and strength training have proven benefits in faster and longer lasting weight control as well as increases in cardiac health and lower risk of diabetes.  Of course, the most obvious benefit of keeping strength, power and muscular endurance levels high, particularly for seniors, is the ability to function better in daily life.   

Joan Carter
Vice Chairman
CYBEX International, Inc.


A: I am so glad you are asking questions about types and quantity of equipment based upon your market demographics, as these issues are critical and can be a ”game changer” in our business. The type, quantity, functionality and flow of the club's equipment is as important as color, and architectural design of the facility itself.  Simply asking this question shows that you understand the importance of doing thorough ”due diligence” up front and that you understand how demographics have a big effect on purchasing decisions.  Having said that, and to answer you properly, there is much more information required in terms of location, dimensions, floor plans, adjacent spaces, flooring, electrical, local competition, etc.  As club operators, we receive amazing support from equipment vendors who have done extensive research and development on not only manufacturing great equipment, but also in the fairly specific market inquires you have posed. Many of these vendors have departments dedicated to helping us with these equipment layouts, given a certain footprint. Developing a relationship with several of these vendors will not only allow for the needed help but also help in pricing, but please remember that sometimes ”less is more” in both cardio and free weight areas.

Steve Krum
General Manager
Spectrum Clubs

A: A good mixture of overall cardio and strength would be necessary and one that provides variety to cater to the individual member’s needs and expectations.  A starting suggestion would be in the ratio of 65% cardio to 35% weights.  Floor space, facility layout, ADA requirements and many other considerations also need to be reviewed before purchase.  Where will the equipment go in the facility; will it face outside windows, does it flow well to provide the most user friendly experience, does it allow for multiple users simultaneously, where are the electrical requirements for cardio going to come from, TV cables, etc.  You can always grow your equipment selections based off feedback you receive from members and even track the utilization of cardio pieces to best determine what the most popular are.  Most facilities would learn towards having a good assortment of treadmills, elliptical, bikes; both upright and recumbent and steppers.  Most facilities have gone to utilizing various equipment companies to provide variety and personal preference choices for members.  For weights, most facilities would suggest primarily cable pieces (Free Motion type), Smith machines, smaller number of plate loaded, some multi-purpose benches and dumbbells and perhaps a total body circuit of selectorized weight. 

Mark Stevens
Regional Director
The Houstonian Health Clubs and Spas

A: There is no quick answer unfortunately as to what types and quantities of spa-related equipment you should plan on purchasing.  It really depends on the type of spa service programming you intend to feature in your market-driven spa business concept, as well as a market analysis that makes a serious and credible attempt to gauge the volume of demand you can expect from your target audience(s).  In fact, the latter should drive the space planning program you provide your architectural design team.   

Incorporating a medspa element along with traditional spa services into your health club increases the profit potential of your business endeavor, but also adds a complicating factor.  Often the success of such a program (and legal licensing) depends on the inclusion of an well-known and respected medical practitioner.  Further, the type of medspa services you will want to offer may be an outgrowth of what their specialty is, competitive factors in the marketplace, and state licensing requirements and restrictions.  

In a nutshell, once your spa business concept is well-fleshed out and researched, the equipment requirements will follow quite easily.

Deborah A. Smith, CMC®
Principal Smith Club & Spa Specialists


This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices series. We post a new question and answer every Monday morning. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.


How to Accommodate Senior Citizen Members

Colin Milner, Christine Thalwitz and Lionel Phillips discusses how to accomodate members in their 80's and 90's at a health club in this week's Best Practices

"We have a few senior citizen members in their 80's and 90's. Our staff members often get nervous for them while they're on the weight room floor. Should we pay these members extra attention? And if so, how can we go about it so they don't feel like they're being constantly watched over because of their age?"

A: This is a great question, as it is a typical fear of clubs owners, managers and staff. This feeling of being nervous with older people on your weight room floor however is ill-founded as studies from Tufts University, and many others, show that you take older adults into the weight room and you push them. They don't die; they double and triple their muscle strength. Dr. Steven Blair, Chief Scientific Editor for the US Surgeon General’s report of Physical Activity said in an interview that I did with him years ago that If exercise was going to kill people, it would have killed the group in the Tufts landmark study. Yet they literally had no adverse events. It's a myth that older adults are fragile and cannot exercise. Yes, there are frail individuals. Certainly, as you go up the age spectrum, you have more health issues and potential adverse events, but they are still pretty rare.  A facility needs to be aware and have an emergency plan in place. But clubs can get sued just as easily over a highly fit 22 year-old who falls and breaks something or drops dead from an abnormality in his or her cardiovascular system.

The ICAA provides you with a list of ways in which you can make your fitness center more accessible and friendly for your older customer. This will also ease your feeling of being nervous.

In regard to the second part of your questions, given the fact that 80% of people over the age of 75 have no functional limitations requiring assistance from another person, I would simply let your customers know that your team is there to help them, when and if they need it. However, I would not dote on them. Society has a bad habit of wanting to take care of older people instead of letting them be active consumers of products and services. If they need help, they will let you know. Focus on the philosophy of I CAN instead of I CAN’T. I would also help them find a training partner, if you can. This is more for social and motivational purposes than anything else.


No functional limitations

% with no functional limitations requiring assistance from another person

50 to 64 year old: 96%

65 to 74 year old: 93%

75+ year old: 80%

Source: Active Aging in America: Volume 1. Residential and Commercial Fitness United States 2005

This is a very rewarding group to work with and as they get stronger you will have members that stay with you longer.   

Colin Milner, CEO
International Council on Active Aging

A: With older adults comprising the fastest growing health club demographic, it is important for clubs to be ready to accommodate the needs of mature members. You can best serve this population by building relationships and fostering communication. More than likely any personal attention you give will be welcome, not resented. 

At a minimum, conduct a pre-activity risk screening, such as the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire, so that you know whether members should receive a physician’s clearance before beginning unsupervised exercise in your club.

Once they begin working out, encourage older adults to exercise at a comfortable pace. Just as you would with any member, monitor their activities to ensure that they are performing exercises safely and effectively. If you need to approach a member with safety concerns, a good way to break the ice is to make eye contact and smile.

Amanda Harris, ACAC’s Vice President of Fitness & Wellness, coaches trainers to pay close attention to a member’s response after initiating non-verbal contact. “If you can get a smile back, it’s easy then to approach and introduce yourself. From there, assuming the member is receptive, you can start the conversation about the exercise he or she is working on and offer suggestions to make it even better,” she says. 

Amanda cautions that members who are more introverted may take longer to warm up to the trainer. “Part of the art of delivering feedback is knowing when you can go from casual conversation to technique correction without putting the member on the defensive,” says Amanda. She points out that if a member is about to injure himself or herself, however, the trainer should skip the small talk and provide immediate assistance.

If your club does not include a free consultation or training as part of your new member orientation, you may want to offer a special session for those who are new to exercise. Connect older members with a qualified trainer who is knowledgeable about the implications of health conditions and medications commonly associated with senior populations. Ask your members to communicate any changes in their health so that you can re-evaluate the appropriateness of their programs as needed.

In addition, you may want to consider the following issues:

  1. Do your members sign a well-written liability waiver when they join? (Ideally this is a standalone document rather than a section buried in the membership contract.)
  2. Have you addressed accessibility issues, identified possible hazards and mitigated any potential risks for older members in your facility?
  3. Do you have protocols in place in the event of a medical emergency?

With systems and procedures to screen and respond to the needs of older adults, your team will feel more confident providing supervision and service for your eldest members.

Christine Thalwitz, Director of Communications & Research
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers

A: Seniors need extra supervision but there is no need to act as a watchdog. Their program must include machines that are safe and comfortable for them to use – especially for ease of entry and exit.

Because they are not pushing heavy resistance, you may find a few excellent exercises using a Stability Ball, which necessitates them using more than one muscle group and improves balance. Dynamic Tension training makes them concentrate whilst being very effective and safe.  

Talk and advise about the benefits of good Posture, correct Breathing, the benefits of Stretching, drinking sufficient Water, Chewing smaller mouthfuls of food well to receive maximum nutrients and to place less pressure on the Digestive System.

To avoid boredom, increase results and create more concentration and interest. Consider a form of Interval Training. In this case it will be say 5 -7 repetitions in good form followed by a 20 second rest. Repeat for 3 – 5 sets.

This age group can be very fun-loving. So ensure that any music or TV channel is appropriate. Introduce them to each other and encourage them to be friendly. Suggest working in pairs if in similar physical and mental condition.

Lionel H. Phillips D.O., CEO 
Me & My Body Limited. P.O. Box 261; Ra'anana, 43101; Israel


How To Create Profit Centers For Seniors

This week, experts Colin Milner and Emily Liskow discuss programming and profit centers for the senior citizen market:

Q: "I operate a family club and we're interested in adding some services for the senior/mature market. What type of services would you recommended especially those that will help maximize our non-dues revenue?"

A: Exercising in a group setting is always more enjoyable then going at it alone; team training and specialized classes are a great way to target a specific demographic.

For the older demographic (as with most), we have found that the retention rate and utilization rate increases when we can get them involved in a group or team. This helps build a sense of community and creates accountability. Specialized group classes can be offered as part of the group exercise program (fee or non-fee), or they can be broken off into team training to create an additional revenue stream.

Some of the programs that have worked well for us at The Boston Racquet Club are:

  • Stretching Class: Stretching is fundamental at all ages and fitness levels. It is a great way to get the blood flowing and people into the gym. This class can be 15 minutes long, or up to an hour. Yoga for Beginners: A small group exercise class promoted to the "un-flexible" and the "Mature Yoga."
  • Walking groups: Ideal for before work, during lunch or after work. Great program to promote to companies.
  • Zumba (dance classes): This 'dance' class is good for all ages. It is a fun workout and can be adjusted to any fitness level.
  • Squash: Squash is a great cardiovascular workout. This sport can be played well into the later years and acts as a social network.

Emily Liskow, General Manager
Fitcorp - Prudential

A: Create and charge extra for a Balance Center.

Why? Because:

  • Few older people are screened by their physicians for balance issues until they fall.
  • One out of every three people older than 65 will fall this year.
  • Strength and balance training programs could reduce the number of falls by up to 40 percent.

The program would include the following elements:

  1. Balance and fall risk-assessments.
  2. A outcomes report to be sent to the client's doctor, balance specialist and your billing department. Your balance specialist then discusses a course of action with the client's doctor.
  3. Once a program is created schedule the client's first session. Note: You can find these specialized trainers at California State Fullerton's Center for Successful Aging, or other college or university. Sit back and dream about how you could turn the concept of a balance center into a profit center.
  4. The programming area will have basic wobble boards and strength equipment to a cobblestone path, or more sophisticated computerized strength and balance tools.
  5. After the training session, your clients can read one of your many publications or handouts on balance. They may also register for your weekly educational seminar.

This is only the start. Now it's your turn. Sit back and dream about how you could turn the concept of a balance center into a profit center.

Colin Milner, CEO
International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)