Tuesday, July 02 2019

Over the years, I have talked about the importance of adding “cherry flavor” to make classes fun and exciting so the members keep coming. As I continue to evolve on my teaching journey, I now not only remind about the all-important “cherry flavor,” but I also add… “And don’t forget to sneak the medicine in.” 

Below are tips I have accrued over the years for sneaking the medicine in.

10 Tips For Age-Proofing Movement

1. Impact Control (shallow water) – Knowing that many participants come to class with joint impact issues, it is important to make an effort to include a healthy amount of lower impact movement.  The best strategy to reduce impact is to make sure your routine includes lots of grounded and Level II movements.  You do not have to sacrifice intensity by doing this.

2. Anterior to Posterior – Analyze any routine for a balance of front versus back movement and more than likely “front” movement will heavily outweigh “back” movement.  Why?  It is much easier to design movement with flexion than it is with extension.  Designing posterior movement requires more thought and practicality, particularly in deep water.  Despite the challenge, strive to make sure there are movements that target the posterior muscles - rear deltoids, lats, mid scapular and lower back, triceps, buttocks and hamstrings. 

3. Muscle Balance – Another way to determine there is muscle balance in your choreography is to make sure your exercises represent movement in all planes.   Every time you change movement from front to back (sagittal), side to side (frontal) and transverse (horizontal), you change the targeted muscles.  Scanning your routine and ensuring that there is movement in all three planes is the most rudimentary litmus test for muscle balance.

4. Multi-Planar – Life simply does not occur strictly front to back, side to side and horizontal.  Take your programming to the next level by adding functionality, which can help people with activities of daily living (ADL).  Transform movement of the arms, legs and spine with multidirectional, full range of motion at the joint.   Think circular, diagonal and spiral. 

5. Vary Base of Support - When performing movement from static positions, be sure to vary the base of support in order to challenge balance.  Try a movement in a wide stance.  Then try it in a lunge or stride stance and then narrow the base of support to a more challenging tandem stance.  Then switch to a neutral stance - and then a one-leg stance.  Varying the base of support builds in progressions of much needed balance training.

6. Multi-Level Formatting - Speaking of progressions, it is important to analyze your routine for intensity alteration.   Can you regress and progress selected exercises in your program.  If you have not done this, go back through your routine and make these changes.  Creating a routine that meets the needs of various fitness levels is your quickest route to popularity as an instructor.  Teaching with progressions is the sign of seasoned pro.

7. Repetition - If I could stand on a mountaintop and shout this I would.  Choreography is NOT the workout.  The repetitions in the choreography ARE the workout.  God help any instructor who takes my choreography notes to the pool and attempts to teach the final combination as is.  When I teach that combination at the YMCA, it can take upwards of 10-15 minutes of reducing repetitions until I get to the actual final combination.  The older the population, the more repetition I use.  Be sure to teach with lots of repetition and provide intensity alterations on those repetitions.      

8. Avoid High Risk Movement - Fortunately, the water provides an environment where there is much less risk.  When I teach in the studio, I have a much longer list of moves I avoid or limit.  In the pool, I am conscious of limiting overhead movement.  Propelled and high impact moves are limited or avoided if they cannot be modified to grounded or Level II. Excessive turning is limited out of sympathy for those with vertigo/dizziness issues. When I have large classes, I choose not to use equipment because monitoring form is near impossible.   There is ALWAYS something else you can do if you are concerned over the risk of a movement. 

9. Variability - If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got.  Aging bodies need change for continued results. Intersperse steady state (aerobic/choreography) and intermittent training (anaerobic/drills).   Change duration by mixing up the timing ratios for work and recovery.  Do a whole class of drills.  Do a whole class of choreography.  Focus on strength.  Focus on cardio.  Focus on flexibility.   One word sums it up.  CHANGE.

10. Topsy Turvy - Regardless of how you change it up, older participants like and appreciate organization and structure.   Showing up to class unprepared and making changes off the top of your head is not likely to win you any fans.  Keep in mind, some of your participants are likely retired educators and they expect to be led by an instructor who is knowledgeable and who participates in continuing education.  And they usually have the biggest mouths and are the first to instigate a mutiny.  Creating a lesson plan is the best way to be prepared AND to analyze a routine to ensure that all the above age-proofing tips are included.       

Attention cardio freaks:  Age-proofing your class does not at all mean that you have to sacrifice intensity.  All classes, including HIIT and Tabata, can be age-proofed.  Age-proofing simply means that you have attempted to make the movement more purposeful to aging bodies.

Bet you never thought you would be creating cherry flavored medicine…..

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.