Baby boomers, the legendary generation that challenged our view of youth in the 1960's are busy redefining the aging process. Born between 1946 and 1964 the oldest boomers are rapidly approaching the age of sixty. And it is clear they intend to pass this milestone on their own terms with regard to health and fitness. When it comes to sports, these boomers are pushing as hard as they did in their twenties. As their children exit college this large segment of the market finds itself with a fairly large amount of disposable income despite current economic conditions. As they try desperately to hang onto youth, they search for the solution to health and fitness concerns. Is your facility ready?
As gym owners, equipment developers and business professionals concerned with profitability in the fitness industry, you must first understand the special needs and concerns of this population group. While you will see a diversity in terms of fitness levels, from those mimicking athleticism of their youth, others are clearly overweight and out of shape, giving rise to the growing obesity epidemic which grips our world; one thing hold true. All baby boomers are going through physiological changes as they grow older.
Physiological changes that occur after the age of 40
Longer Recovery Times Are Required
Five or six day per week workout routines will need to be scaled back to four to five days per week with periodization training to optimize gains while insuring adequate rest and recovery time.
Joints Stiffen While Tendons And Ligaments Become Less Elastic
Yoga and stretching classes will need to be offered during day, evening and weekend hours to allow for this large group to maintain and increase their levels of flexibility. Nothing harms the reputation of a gym more than having a high injury rate. On the other hand, having healthy and fit baby boomers share the secret of youthful vibrancy as your gym will help your membership numbers swell.
Loss of Muscle Mass
Beginning in the mid-thirties, muscle mass is lost at a rate of up to 30% into the mid-fifties. By the senior years, up to 50% of the muscle mass of youth can be lost. It will be critical to communicate a message that your facility welcomes and helps educate baby boomers on weight lifting techniques. Introductory lifting classes where prospective and new members are taught proper technique, surrounded by peers rather than youthful coeds, will be helpful in creating an atmosphere of comfort for baby boomers seeking a new level of fitness. Group classes also provide a forum for selling individual personal training sessions for those in need of a more individualized approach.
Loss of Bone Density
While primarily thought of as a female disorder, by the time men hit their sixties, they lose bone density at the same rate as women. Males and females need to be educated on the benefits of weight lifting for health, fitness and most importantly…….independence in senior years.
Metabolic Rate Decreases
Healthy eating habits of consuming nutrient dense foods can be taught to potential gym members through several channels. Weekend seminar type classes help boost revenue through gym memberships sold, as well as personal training sessions. Personal trainers knowledgeable in nutrition can help advise their clients on eating nutrient dense foods and supplementing with high quality protein supplements. Additional revenues will be gained when clients actively engage in a comprehensive fitness and nutrition program.
Have plenty of appropriate cardio equipment available. This age group likes treadmills and recumbent bikes over Stairmasters and ellipticals. Introductory or beginner level aerobics classes provide a welcoming atmosphere to explore new avenues of cardio. No one wants to enter that seemingly advanced level step class where everyone appears to move in unison.
Baby boomers, their personal trainers and facility owners need to keep these biological changes in mind when designing workout programs. As a gym owner you need to employ certified trainers that are knowledgeable about working with older clients.
"Trainers that can effectively communicate…to a population group where 'youth and vitality' remain important factors towards longevity will translate into a winning solution"
Independent fitness trainers have been around for a long time, but became an independent unit of the fitness industry in the 1970s. Just a decade later, personal training was the fastest growing segment of the fitness industry. According to a five-year-old IDEA fact sheet, a company designed to provide trainers a forum for education and services to be effective fitness professional, "there are over 60,000 certified personal trainers practicing in the United States." Today, the number of trainers is in the hundreds of thousands. Based on that fact, gym members think that gaining access to a qualified trainer is easy. As facility owners, you've all seen more than your fair share of "certified trainers" that lacked qualifications. Why does that happen?
Certification Companies Vary
As a result of the enormous growth within this segment of the fitness industry, literally dozens of companies have been formed to certify trainers. But, without industry standards, large profit margins can be gained by certification companies that depend on profits from selling certifications programs rather than producing qualified trainers. "At this time, there is no single, standard qualification required before a person can practice as a personal fitness trainer."
Each certification company determines the criteria needed and method off testing to produce certified fitness trainers. And therein is the problem with certification companies. Some are in the business of maintaining a high level of excellence through a complete and continuing education of their clients, while others are simply in the business of making money by selling programs.
Phil Kaplan, author and a fitness industry leader states, "To suggest that certification agencies maintain a standard without any actual regulation would represent a futile effort. Since most of the certifications in existence are offered by "for-profit" companies with a concern for the bottom line, there will always be someone looking to fill the "everyone passes" niche.
I believe efforts should be placed upon lobbying for unified recognition of an acceptable standard and or accreditation that separates the credible certification from those without a proven measure of a standard." Clearly, all business companies need to keep a close eye on the bottom line or they will soon be out of existence. But, the method of achieving a good profit margin sets apart the industry leaders from those trying to fill the "everyone passes" niche.
Gym owners need to take special care in hiring trainers that not only are certified but are also qualified to effectively communicate techniques and concepts to their clients. Baby boomers at your facility that look to hire a trainer are knowledgeable business people that will quickly identify an ill prepared trainer.
Take the time to locate trainers that have knowledge in dealing with special populations such as older adults. Hiring a trainer that can effectively communicate the message of health and fitness to a population group where youth and vitality remain important factors towards longevity will translate into a winning solution for both the client and the gym owner.
About Diane Fields
Diane Fields, MBA, ISSA Master Trainer, Specialist in Fitness for Older Adults and Specialist in Performance Nutrition is the founding member of Legendary Fitness LLC, a company developed to meet the special exercise and nutrition concerns of the Baby boomer population. Diane Fields teams up with Dr. Richard Baldwin, Mr. America and Mr. USA, on Bodybuilding.com to write the weekly column, "Bodybuilding for Babyboomers". Visit www.legendaryfitness.com.
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