By Jessica Hall
Baby boomers want to be able to personalize who looks like them
You don’t need to have rock-solid abs in your 70s, but you do need to move if you want to age well.
At least that’s the advice of Robin Maginn, a 64-year-old personal trainer who works with middle-aged and older adults in her role as a living health and wellness coordinator at the Lincoln County Central YMCA in Damariscotta, Maine, the state’s oldest population.
Maginn has been a personal trainer and fitness coach for about 30 years, but now he is part of a wave of adult expertise such as Joan Macdonald 75, who transformed himself for five years from being overweight and on several drugs to free and drug. It happens with a social media audience of 1.7 million followers on her @TrainwithJoan Instagram account.
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“There is a boom in senior fitness and senior personal trainers. A lot of people want a trainer who understands them. Clients want someone to assess how their bodies respond to training,” said International Sports Science Association president and chief executive Andrew Wyant.
Last year, 10% of ISSA’s new students were over 60, up from about 5% a decade ago, Wyant said. ISSA had approximately 50,000 students worldwide last year.
“With age, comes experience,” Maginn said. “I like to stick to common practices that are imitated in life, what we do or need to do. I really hone in on form. I want people to understand why something helps or works better–I explain things.”
“Exercise can help anyone – from disease prevention, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes. It’s important to keep your body strong and active,” he said.
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Maginn said he works with older clients who take the time and perseverance to stick to a diet and keep coming back. In addition to being a personal trainer, Maginn also teaches group exercise classes for older adults, tai chi, and boxing for Parkinson’s patients.
It is recommended that you spend 150 minutes a week being active, Maginn said. Strength, cardio, flexibility and balance are all important for any age, but especially for older people, they said.
“It’s important to incorporate everything into your routine. You don’t need to be in the gym. Keep moving,” Maginn said. “Your chronological age can do a number on you psychologically if you let it. Don’t let that number happen, though.”
“For older adults who haven’t exercised before, it can be very intimidating. I try to take the fear out of it and go slow and steady,” Maginn said. “I’m not afraid to work with many risk factors. I work with stroke victims, Parkinson’s patients, anyone who wants to become healthy.”
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“There’s always something you can do. Sometimes I just want people to try and start somewhere,” Maginn said. “It’s never too late – if I don’t care about 90 or 100 – to gain strength and endurance.”
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Maginn and other teachers are appealing to older baby boomers who want to age actively.
“Many baby boomers have been fitness advocates for decades, whether it was running or tennis or now pickleball. As boomers continue to age, they’re really looking for active aging,” Wyant said.
“For a person in their 60s or 70s going to the gym and seeing a strong 25-year-old is great. But a 65-year-old exerciser will understand and appreciate the quality of their experience,” Wyant said. “It’s just my opinion, but when an exerciser of any age can be experienced and trained, having someone who appreciates that your elbow can be hurt by tendinitis and understands and can be reassuring and overwhelming,” Wyant said.
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Katharina Keoughan, 69, who teaches with Maginn, agrees.
“When your trainer is your age, healthy, fit, strong and attractive, you have a role model. If the trainer was 40 years younger, you wouldn’t be because you’re not that age and that might not be appropriate,” said Keoughan.
“I can relate to the better. He’s closer to my age and can say, ‘I know how you feel,'” Keoughan said. “Sometimes they joke ‘I don’t have to pay extra for psychiatry'”?
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