Q&A: Am I Too Old To Be A Personal Trainer?
"I am a retired scientist, age 55, I recently graduated with a degree in exercise science and also have the Masters Trainer certification from ISSA as well, do you think I am too old to be a fitness trainer and to be taken seriously, do you think people will respond well since I am an old guy, I don't look my age at all and am in fantastic shape, however fitness trainers are usually half my age, thoughts?"
First, let’s address the big, old elephant in the room.
The fact that someone feels this way isn’t just nervousness or fear of starting over after retirement. Our society has a very real issue with ageism!
What is ageism? It is a prejudice or bias against people who are older than oneself. These prejudices often arise from stereotypes.
Are Stereotypes Real?
Research suggests that there is a significant difference between chronological age and physiological age.3 What we teach in our ISSA Senior Fitness course is that “age” is a many-factored concept and the process of aging is different for everyone.
However, the image that the media portrays of “normal aging” is far from the norm and perpetuates the idea that Seniors can’t be productive outside of retirement. Ever heard someone say, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? This phrase stems from the stereotype that seniors are frail and sickly, which is far from the truth for many!
While in her seventies, Doris Roberts (1925-2016), a popular actress, testified before a Senate hearing regarding ageism in the media. The actress said2,
“My peers and I are portrayed as dependent, helpless, unproductive and demanding rather than deserving. In reality, the majority of seniors are self-sufficient, middle-class consumers with more assets than most young people, and the time and talent to offer society."
Being The “Old Guy”
As a fit person of retirement age, you have the unique opportunity to be a role model to many people...
As Sara Fleming, an ISSA adjunct professor and Highland’s athlete, stated in her Facebook comment,
“The key to being a successful trainer is being able to relate to your clients and I have mentored many older trainers who have found a very successful niche training folks in their demographic and older.”
You will have the unique ability to say to your Senior clients, “I understand.”
A much younger trainer cannot empathize with their older clients. They may “know” what the client is going through from a physiological standpoint, but having a trainer who truly empathizes is invaluable and can be a motivating factor for clients to achieve success.
We all know that fitness isn’t a destination you arrive at, it is a journey. Because you have maintained good health throughout life, younger client’s will admire that and seek your coaching and mentorship.
You can share your stories of struggle and triumph to inspire them through hard times.
In our Facebook discussion, Josh Neighbors proved that ageism isn’t reserved just for older people.
“You'll be fine I had the opposite problem I graduated at 22 and everyone treated me like I only had the physique I had by luck. Like genetics and being young was all it took.”
So you see, we all have struggles to overcome to be successful.
Even though you think “most trainers are half [your] age”, I think you might benefit from a shift in perspective…
Look at it this way, “most trainers are only half your age”...therefore, you have the edge!
Experience, empathy, and modeling the benefits of a fitness lifestyle will likely make you the go-to trainer wherever you work!
As our esteemed trainers have already expressed in their comments, age is nothing but a number.
What others think of you, is none of your business. In other words, you have a gift to share with the world and neither age, nor anyone’s beliefs about you because of your age, should cause you to doubt yourself.
If you missed this awesome conversation on our Facebook page, I would encourage you to click over and read it. Our community of ISSA Trainers are inspiring, uplifting, and passionate about changing lives - even that of a fellow trainer!
Rose Biscardi became an ISSA-certified trainer 10 years ago, with a concentration in helping people 55 and older stay active and fit. “Nobody can believe that I’m going to be 84 in September,” Biscardi said. “They say they want to do what I do.” And her admirers are not relegated to senior status. Her grandson recently told her, “I hope I got your genes.”
Senior Fitness Certification
By the year 2030, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will grow to over 63 million. This group now constitutes the fastest growing segment of our population. While this burgeoning segment of the personal training market constitutes a lucrative opportunity, the real value is in the joy you'll experience in changing people's lives.