Visiting a fitness center can be intimidating. You find yourself surrounded by people years younger than you and wonder about which exercise equipment you can use safely. However, as the baby boom population ages, more facilities are catering to an older crowd. If you're ready to sign up for a gym membership, try these tips for managing the physical and social challenges.
1Consult Your Doctor
Speak with your physician before starting an exercise program, especially if you're overweight or have been sedentary for some time. Your doctor can advise you about any medical conditions you need to keep in mind, such as high blood pressure. If you need more guidance, ask for recommendations for an exercise physiologist or nutritionist.
2Check Out Weight Machines
Even frail seniors may be able to strength train with air-powered machines where you just hit a button if the load feels too heavy. Resistance bands are another option. On the other hand, if your balance is strong, you may be able to continue using free weights.
3Focus On Low-Impact Aerobics.
Protect your joints and adjust for a maximum decreased heart rate. Try swimming and dance classes that keep your feet on the floor. If you're concerned about falling off the treadmill, look for recumbent machines that offer more stability.
4Do Gentle Stretches
Stretch gently. End each session with gentle movements that build up your flexibility. Extending your range of motion can also help you to live independently longer.
5Remain Seated If You Like
Consider doing chair exercises. Many exercises can be performed without standing up. Browse online for yoga moves you can do sitting on a gym bench.
6Learn How To Pace Yourself
Walking is a great way to start moving, and your first exercise sessions may last only a few minutes. Increase the intensity of your workouts slowly to avoid injury. Next is managing your social challenges.
7Sign Up For Group Classes
Maybe your gym schedules custom-designed classes for members over 50. Sign up for different group sessions. Whatever you find on the program, classes are a convenient way to meet your fellow gym members.
8Choose A Spot
If you feel conspicuous standing up front, position yourself at the back of the room or off to the side. Choose a good spot. You can often see the instructor better from a distance.
9Talk With The Instructors
Qualified trainers will be happy to suggest modifications and substitutions in dealing with any medical conditions or injuries you may have. Many seniors are concerned about falls. Ask your instructor to show you exercises that can help you to balance.
10Find An Exercise Partner
Get ready to connect with other fitness-minded people. Look around for gym members your age. Workout buddies can watch out for each other and provide motivation.
11Invite Your Friends
Your membership probably includes guest passes and discounts. See if you know anyone would like to join you. You'll look forward to workouts more when you share them with your friends.
12Adjust Your Schedule
Noisy gyms can be irritating for some seniors. Ask the staff about what hours of the day tend to be less busy. You may want to designate the early morning hours as your regular time.
13Arrange Your Soundtrack
Speaking of noise, you may prefer Chopin to the newer dance songs booming over the loudspeakers. Find a gym that plays quieter tunes. If you're unable to locate such a gym, then you may opt to wear earplugs or listen to audiobooks with your earbuds.
By the age of 40, most adults lose 1% or more of their muscle mass each year. Slow down aging with regular exercise. Training at the gym can help you make new friends while you strengthen your body and mind.
Jackie Wing is an Alaska native, who enjoys snowboarding more than is probably socially acceptable. She lives in Anchorage with her two dogs Reese and Peanut, or as she likes to call them "Thing 1" and "Thing 2."