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EXERCISE & AGEING Whether you run 50-plus clubs or a


COLIN MILNER CEO, International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)


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vidence suggests some older adults prefer to work out with people


like themselves. However, this market is very diverse and there are many who enjoy working out with younger people too, as long as there’s respect and the facility can meet their needs. The need is, therefore, not for 50-plus clubs alone, but for a sector-wide focus on this growing population group, from suitable equipment and staffing, to design of centres and policy. The goal is to create a centre that can meet the diverse needs of the


mainstream fitness centre, no operator can afford to neglect the older adult market: by 2017, the 50-plus group will account for 70 per cent of all discretionary income in the US


older population, and the diversity of older adults themselves – their life experiences, income, capabilities, culture. The nine principles of active ageing (see http://lei.sr?a=K8a0c) provide an excellent framework for organisations to follow, no matter what type of facility they run. The key is to focus on helping people


maintain their functional abilities, both physical and cognitive. The European


NATALIE CORNISH Fitness & wellbeing director, Nuffield Health, UK


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oining a gym at any age can be intimidating, but for older members


in particular we need to break down barriers in terms of the look and feel of our clubs and the services we provide. However, I don’t think there’s a need for a boutique older demographic club when, with a few adjustments, we can create nearly everything that’s required within our existing model. Nurturing a sense of community


in your club is absolutely key, as the social aspect is very important for this group, tackling potential social isolation. Expanding your group exercise timetable is also an easy win, adding a walking club


alongside the typical running club, or highlighting classes that are suitable for all age groups, for example. We’ve started holding regular


Wellbeing Workout group exercise classes for over-55s, with the emphasis on low impact exercise. We also have a premium membership that includes physiotherapy, nutrition, physiology and PT, all guided by a qualified Health Mentor. This option is popular with the older demographic, who tend to have more of an interest in components outside of exercise to keep them feeling well and healthy. We’re also going to be piloting schemes in the community, providing support and exercise prescription for those who are less mobile and less likely to join a gym. We believe we all need to be doing


our bit to get this segment of the population more active.


Commission’s active ageing index provides indicators on which to focus, but essentially it comes back to the basics: strength, cardio, balance, flexibility and cognitive maintenance. Whether you run 50-plus clubs or a


mainstream fitness centre, no operator can afford to neglect the older adult market: by 2017, the 50-plus group will account for 70 per cent of all discretionary income in the US.


JOHN RATEY Clinical associate professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, US


think it can all be solved with drugs. However, they are afraid of losing their minds, so the mental health message is something health clubs can latch onto if they want to attract an older audience: exercise can delay the onset of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s by 10–15 years. But once you’ve attracted this


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market, what’s the best way of catering for them? When you hit 50, specialist fitness offerings start to emerge, but 50 isn’t old nowadays: there are plenty of over-50s in the mainstream gyms I use and they’re regular participants in group cycling and so on. I can only see that increasing as generations who are more familiar with the gym environment get older and continue with their existing exercise routines. However, over-50s programmes


can be a good idea for those who aren’t used to the gym, giving them the confidence to get started. Group activities are particularly important, providing a sense of community for a population group where social isolation can be an issue. I believe mainstream gyms can do this perfectly well though – I don’t think standalone facilities are really necessary. In fact, for many over-50s who still feel young at heart, a separate ‘older person’s’ gym might be off-putting. ●


Group activities are important for a population where social isolation can be an issue 48 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital March 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


n the US, people aren’t afraid of physical ailments any more – they


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