Pet Peeves on Senior Fitness

Kay started coming to my Chair Yoga class with a friend who told her about it. She is a delightful woman in her early to mid 70’s. She shared with me that she had a bad fall and ended up being in the hospital for months. One thing after another. Shattered this… broken that. She was on the mend finally, and so enjoyed her twice a week Chair Yoga practice.

As with all of my students, I allow time and familiarity to set in before I get lots of details about a person’s life. But, when Kay told me her story, I knew I had to share it with my fellow Teachers.

Listen up!

Kay took up an invitation from a friend to attend a Senior Fitness class at the local Church.  She was eager to meet new friends and do something to keep her mobile and active.  This was her first class and they were doing “relay races”. You know, the kind we used to do as kids. Pick this up, run across the room, tag a person, and so on and so on.  “Who’s going to win?”

Well, Kay, being a competitive person, was rushing fast and in one sudden movement, she was down on the floor with a shattered shoulder. What started out as a fun day of Senior Fitness turned into her worst nightmare.

  • Pet Peeve #1- Seniors should not be timed in any movement activity that requires agility, dexterity and coordination. Why? Because time is not the issue… it is the movement ability that is the issue.  I have seen many Senior Fitness programs that do timed tests for movements.  It’s a tragedy waiting to happen. Let’s Keep it safe for our Seniors. Period.
  • Pet Peeve #2 –  A Disrespect for the journeys we have taken with our bodies by creating silly “can you do this” test for Senior Fitness? Maybe you saw this standing with crossed legs test (aka SRT or “Sitting-Rise Test”) shared several years ago on the internet.  The concept being this…. Sitting in Sukasana pose, stand up without using any help from your hands or any other object.  The idea being if you can do this, you will live longer. Despite being a movement pattern that is uncommon in our everyday lives, this test does not account for so many Seniors who would blow out a knee even trying this feat!  Let’s keep it realistic and not theoretical with our Seniors.
  • Pet Peeve #3 – Seniors should not do forward bends. If you have been in the Senior fitness area for a short or long time, you have heard this dogma. The problem with this concept is that not all Seniors are alike.  Yes, for those with severe Osteoporosis, VCFs and spinal injuries… this is a cautionary move, but forward bending should not be eliminated from their lives. When taught safely, forward bends can keep our Seniors functioning in their homes longer. Think about these daily tasks…. getting clothes out of the dryer, feeding pets, picking up dropped items.  Learn how to teach Seniors to bend safely rather than instilling them with fear.

Welcome to the world of Senior Yoga and Fitness!  If you are in this area of teaching or studying, you will run across alot of information and ideas.  Use your intuition, experiment on yourself first, and take what serves you and your students with contemplation and responsibility. Our Seniors are trusting their physical bodies with our knowledge.