How many times have you thought, “I want to improve my fitness program, but NOT the hard core one I did when I was younger?” As a baby boomer or older adult are you looking for intelligent, effective, yet comfortable exercise options? Do you worry about losing cognitive skills, getting hurt, gaining weight, losing strength, and not being able to do activities you love? At the same time, do you like to know that your workout and exercise choices are smart ones? Perhaps even cutting edge and trending?
Then the themes and trends I experienced (and contributed to) at the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention will help you meet your goals. (For my sister’s take on overall fitness trends, take a peek at “5 Trends from the Annual IDEA Convention.”)
My focus was first on doing well in my own session as a presenter. I shared 7 principles for creating outstanding group programs for baby boomers. You get 3 of them here! Then I attended every other session devoted to the over 50 exerciser, especially the more active movers and groovers (as opposed to sessions devoted to the frail and elderly).
The biggest trend I saw was the very fact that fitness pros from around the world are FINALLY interested in serving the over 50 exerciser – specifically, in a targeted way. My session, “Fitness Over 50: Getting ReStarted” was filled to capacity. Yay! And the other presentations devoted to our age group were also packed. Heck, this year IDEA offered the most sessions ever devoted to the midlifer and older adult. That’s related to trend #2 – IDEA and the various presenters for this age group finally separated the “older exerciser” into two distinct groups: the baby boomers (ages 52-70) and the seniors or “matures” who are 70+. Prior to this year anyone 50-100 was lumped into one category.
If you are curious about other trends for our age group, read my take on the Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2016
Trend #1 - fitness focus on the over 50 exerciser is finally cool and Hawt! #activeaging Click To Tweet
What were some key fitness themes and workout design principles for older adults as evidenced at the IDEA Convention? How can you incorporate them into your workouts? The following 3 themes, or guiding principles will help you create the best workouts for your midlife body. These principles are adapted from my session, which must have been trendy as all the other “older adult” presenters alluded to them as well.
If you weave in even one or two of these themes, you will be able to:
Why not get a two-fer benefit with each exercise choice? Look for opportunities to cross the midline of your body with an arm, leg or both at once.
Move to music that has polyrhythms or beats that are more complex than straight count.
Attend workout classes where the instructor cues patterns. The brain work involved in interpreting verbal commands and following choreography literally increases your dendrites, ganglia, and axons.
Ask yourself whether the moves you are choosing relate to activities of daily living (ADL). For instance, incorporate dynamic balance moves, not solely static ones since we normally need to balance while moving, not holding still. Recognize walking as the ultimate and primary balance and functional move. So take walks. And when you do, test your balance by intermittently slowing your stride. Super slow. Then speed up. Super fast.
Let’s say you have a plan to travel. Keep in mind that especially in foreign countries you’ll be climbing stairs; walking on uneven terrain; navigating unfamiliar environments; carrying loads, dealing with fatigue and time changes. Plan to be your active best when traveling by making stepping up and down part of your workout program. Or lifting your legs up and over things so you’ll be ready for those low walls abroad.Practice twisting and turning while carrying weights (luggage, souvenirs, small grandchildren).
Do you include posture work in your routine? If not, it’s tiiiiime. Which do you think will have a bigger impact on your ability to age actively — having popping fresh biceps (single joint strength training isolation move) or having a strong core and back that keep you lifted and long? (Yeah, the opposite of stooped with rounded shoulders).
Use balance work as a move itself or as a stance option for any standing move. Not only could you incorporate balance moves into your workout, but also you can improve your balance while working your upper body or doing standing stretches. How? But narrowing your stance. Don’t always set your feet shoulder width apart and parallel. Instead, place one foot directly in front of the other in what’s called “tandem” position. Now try those tricep kickbacks or upper body stretch. Trickier right? Whenever possible choose a narrow vs wide base of support.
Are you already rethinking your program? Less working one muscle at a time and more enhancing your overall ability to move and continue doing the activities you enjoy?
QUESTION: Would you be interested in a digital product that offered moves and workout programs that follow the themes listed here? If we created videos and support text that allowed you to mix and match effective programs with balance, posture, and functional exercises, would you value that?
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Klout is a company that measures people’s online influence and assigns a score. The score is derived from your activity on social media (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). The average score is 20, and brands offer free Perks to influencers who have certain scores (they choose the minimum) in specific topics. So I took the various sites and made them into circuit stations, assigning each person a score at the end of the workout. There were seven stations: Faceback, Twitter, LinkedIn, InstaBlam, Pinterest, FourSquare, and Reddit.
For the Pinterest station, students bounced on stability balls in order to pin motivational sayings to the wall. For the LinkedIn station two people were attached at the ankle by an Exercuff, and they had to go from one spot to another remaining linked. At the InstaBlam station the two partners stood about 6 feet apart and did chest throws with a weighted medicine ball. FourSquare was the easiest to design – we played Four Square, just like in elementary school! For the Faceback station the partners were back to back, passing a medicine ball up, over and around each other. The Twitter station was declared the most popular, as they all got to take pictures of themselves bouncing on the stability balls.
This was directly followed by the hardest station, Reddit, in which they had to do a plank on the ball while reading their texts and email. In between each station, instead of water breaks or walking around the room, they had tweet/ Instagram breaks.
The workout was non-competitive, and everyone received a score based on the number of laps they did at the LinkedIn station. As it was all in fun, everyone got free Perks (thank you CalNaturale Svelte and PROBAR for the protein drinks and bars) at the end of class.
One side benefit for the people who attended the class (if they had a Twitter account) was that all the tweets & posts they sent out during the workout helped increase their real life Klout score!
Feel free to use my workout with your own students if they’re fans of social media. Even though the class was at 7 in the morning, we had an energetic group. And don’t worry – even with all the tweeting and posting and picture-taking, everyone still got their sweat on! It was really fun.
What do you think – shall I try this with my university students in the Fall? Do you have any stations to suggest?