Tuesday, July 02 2019

According to a press release from the U.S. Census  Bureau, released JUST TODAY, the nation's population has a distinctly older age profile than it did 16 years ago.  New detailed estimates show the nation’s median age — the age where half of the population is younger and the other half older — rose from 35.3 years on April 1, 2000, to 37.9 years on July 1, 2016.  The statistics in this report confirm what everyone already knows - pools are about to get a lot busier.

The 2017 International Aquatic Fitness Conference (IAFC) featured several sessions that included Tabata, HIIT, Boot Camp, poles, bikes, trampolines, paddleboards and more.  It is encouraging to see this kind of programming and to witness the industry evolving and targeting new audiences.  However, many long-time instructors in the USA would be hard pressed to report a change in the age demographics of their classes.  The pool is still clearly the preferred exercise domain of those aged 55+.    Rather than trying to woo the young, the male and the athletically gifted – we should work harder at embracing our most loyal, most appreciative and most important customers – those older adults who are actually showing up in our classes.

Serving our most loyal customers is accomplished by ensuring that the programming we offer is appropriate, effective and purposeful.  Appropriate programming would take into consideration the average age and abilities of participants.  This typically varies greatly within each class and thus instructors must learn the skill of multi-formatting, which involves teaching with movement progressions and regressions.  A recently posted Fitmotivation blog, 10 Tipsfor Age-Proofing Your Classes, details strategies for making programming more appropriate for older populations. 

Like all group fitness activity, programming for the 55+ crowd needs to be effective and results oriented.  Movement should be purposeful, helping to improve an individual’s ability to perform activities of daily living.    The recently posted video, BioExercise™ -Challenge the Balance, is the perfect example of transforming aquatic fitness group activity into more meaningful movement with specific goals that lead to total body functionality.      

Fitness professionals who are looking to experience longevity in their careers would be wise to expand their education into the study of aging and exercise.   Below are more aging statistics to back this up.


Source:  U.S. Census Bureau and the 2016 report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Age-Related Statistics

·      In 2014, 46 million people age 65 and over lived in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of the total population. The older population grew from 3 million in 1900 to 46 million in 2014. The oldest-old population (those age 85 and over) grew from just over 100,000 in 1900 to 6 million in 2014.

·      The “Baby Boomers” (those born between 1946 and 1964) started turning 65 in 2011, and the number of older people will increase dramatically during the 2014–2030 period. The older population in 2030 is projected to be twice as large as their counterparts in 2000, growing from 35 million to 74 million and representing nearly 21 percent of the total U.S. population

·      The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the population age 85 and over would grow from 6 million in 2014 to 20 million by 2060.


Source:  National Council On Aging (NCOA)

NCOA’s Healthy Aging Fact Sheet puts into perspective the role fitness professionals can play in mitigating some of these more disturbing facts. 

·      Approximately 92% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two.

·      Diabetes affects 12.2 million Americans aged 60+, or 23% of the older population.

·      90% of Americans aged 55+ are at risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure.

·      Every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall.

According to statistics posted in the Fitmotivation blog, Arthritis Aquatic Essentials, more than 50 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.  That’s 1 in 5 people over age 18.  By 2030, more than 67 million adults are expected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.  Arthritis is the nation’s number one cause of disability. 

The above statistics make it even clearer that the pool is exactly where older adults need to be.  The properties of the aquatic environment make exercise more conducive to the needs of the aging body.  Check out the video and blog, 10 Reasons Why You Should Exercise in Water.

Aquatic Fitness professionals have always been encouraged to expand their knowledge through continuing education, but now they may want to take that a step further by ensuring that part of their education each certification cycle is dedicated to healthy aging.  BioExercise is an example of an exercise program that is dedicated to healthy aging.  AEA’S Arthritis Foundation Program leader Course is also a good resource when it comes to purposeful movement for older adults.  Instructors may want to start dabbling more into rehab courses, such as those offered by ATRI.  

Fitmotivation.com also offers a wide array of video resources for healthy aging.  The following videos provide countless ideas for exercises, choreography and activities that are more meaningful to the aging body. 

BioExercise: Challenge The Balance

Working 5 to 9

H20 Functional Flow

Deep 360

Arthritis Aquatic Essentials

Aqua Flex & Flow

360 Balance & Core

Stride & Strength

Mature Moves

Stretch Fusion 1

Stretch Fusion 2


ShaDeep Seniors

Stay tuned to this channel because lots more videos (and audio workouts) dedicated to healthy aging will be added. 

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.