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Fitness For Middle Aged Adults is not “one-size-fits-all”

I’m middle-aged and want to lose weight, tone up, get in shape, move, look, and feel better…what do I do?

Going to the typical health club and sitting down on a bunch of machines…the ineffectiveness of this should be self-explanatory. Your body has succumbed to tight fascia (the tissue around your muscles) over the years from sitting too much.  You can’t somehow improve this by sitting down to exercise.

The Reality of the Fitness Industry

The unfortunate reality is that the fitness industry, as it has naturally evolved, has always focused primarily on individuals in their twenties and early thirties. Modern-day health clubs are designed with everything from the layout to amenities geared for the younger population.

You could join the local “Extreme Boot Camp” or roll right into a Crossfit class and get your hardcore fitness on. We’ll talk after you get burned out or worse yet, injured. Let’s hope there’s a knowledgeable coach running the show. Unfortunately, even if they understand safe progression, the limitations with a group setting may not enable them to apply it.

Even most personal trainers tend to be more knowledgeable and proficient at program design for the younger population. The reality is it’s much easier and requires far less thought to set up workouts for someone who doesn’t have contraindications or much in the line of risk factors.

That’s why a lot of trainers like boot camps so much. Pick a bunch of challenging exercises and just beat people down. The harder the workout the better. The measuring stick of a “good workout” is often how many clients are left standing at the end.

Look – we’re not trying to bash these programs or personal trainers. But sometimes they seem to think every workout should be like a Crossfit competition. We just think there’s a disservice to scores of middle-aged adults. They’re often led down the wrong road, or if nothing else pushed down that road too quickly.

This just leads to an increased risk of unnecessary injury, burnout, and a greater likelihood of dropping out of exercise altogether.

After spending a number of years training various age groups, it became painstakingly obvious that the needs of middle-aged adults are inherently different. The techniques and strategies that work for clients in their twenties and early thirties, don’t always work so hot for those in their mid-thirties and beyond.

Issues unique to middle age and older adults…

It’s the 42-year-old woman who doesn’t get why the low-calorie diet and long duration cardio sessions won’t help her shed weight like she could in her twenties and early thirties.

And the 50-year-old man who wants to get in shape but isn’t quite sure what to do in the gym now that his college days have long since past.

Or the menopausal woman suffering from weight gain and a slowed metabolism whose doctor declares that her thyroid tests came back fine… ”Don’t worry you’re in the normal range. You should just try to learn to deal with it as a part of ageing”. Either that or something along the lines of “do better with your exercise and diet”.

But deep down in her gut, she feels something just isn’t right. Her diet is super clean and she’s doing plenty of exercise, so now what?

The examples are numerous but the common denominator is confusion, uncertainty, and often frustration. They really want help but it can be hard to find information that’s truly targeted to their unique needs.

When you’re around 40 and above, it’s common sense that your body won’t be the same as when you were younger. There are the obvious things like longer recovery times, decreased flexibility, more time needed for warming up, etc. But then there’s also the not so obvious changes like decreased protein synthesis, insulin sensitivity, and a host of other hormonal shifts.

The bottom line is the body has undergone physiological changes. Targeted fitness and nutrition strategies for middle age and older adults (which will be safe and effective) should naturally be somewhat different to accommodate the changes.

Each individual will be different in regards to unique needs for their specific situation. We’ve found there are some common factors that tend to show up during screenings.

Depending on the prior level of activity, lifestyle factors, etc, you’ll find varying degrees of inhibited mobility. For example, the more an individual has sat hunched over at their desk behind a computer, the more their body will reflect that position. The body adjusts and conforms to whatever position you’re in most of the time.

Certain muscles get weak, some get tight, others simply shrink in atrophy due to their lack of function. The old adage “use it or lose it” is certainly true.

Now some individuals, including many fitness trainers, will look at this list and come to the conclusion that all these muscles should be trained with resistance to become stronger.

So what do you do?

The more we’ve worked with middle age and older clients, we’ve realised it isn’t that simple. In fact, trying to strengthen muscles with a “paint by number” approach can actually be counterproductive.

It’s vital that you find an expert who understands these issues. They need to properly design the correct program for your specific scenario. Here at Fight Sports Centre, we have a range of professional coaches. Their expertise allows them to create a program that enables you to hit your goals, no matter your age.

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