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How to Help Your Senior Clients

Written by Rob Basilius Hayek

September 3, 2021

“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” 

Joseph Pilates


With the Power of Aging workshops quickly approaching, it is time to look at the simple ways you can approach your senior clients and give them the beneficial workout they need. When people age, their bodies slow down. When that happens, it often results in disuse of the body. As they slow down, it can lead to issues in their bodies like poor posture, gait deficiencies, and a struggle in maintaining balance. Pilates teachers must make themselves familiar with every client’s body, and react accordingly toward the client’s needs.


“As I recover from Achilles tendon surgery, I am more convinced than ever that life presents us with obstacles to teach us lessons. In the midst of the pain and discomfort, I see the silver lining. I feel so fortunate that my body, my mind, and my spirit are healthy and strong. I recognize that the years and the tens of thousands of hours of practice I have invested in honing my skills have been to prepare me for times like this. I am more determined than ever to help others, particularly the aging, prepare for life’s challenges. Certainly, my mission is to educate generations of teachers to be stewards of our sacred gift – a path to wellbeing!”

 Rael Isacowitz.


Balance and Coordination

One of the first signs of decline in older people is when they lose their balance and coordination. When this happens, they are more likely to fall or suffer a major injury. Pilates teachers need to help their older clients strengthen their muscles that are important for maintaining balance. This includes the inner core and muscles that are in the hips and the legs. 

One way of doing this includes helping clients learn to keep their bodies balanced while positioning on a moving surface. The reformer can be a wonderful tool to use. It gives the client the chance to execute a strong workout at their own pace, and with the proper weight limit. Plus, the Pilates teacher can guide them through the proper protocols and ensure that they do not hurt themselves. 

Bone Strength

As people get older, their bone structure deteriorates. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), one in five women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. The NOF also reveals that women are more likely than men to get osteoporosis. This means that their bones have weakened, and this makes them more likely to break if they were to fall. Pilates instructors can help prevent this by focusing on their client’s strength training. Clients over 50 would benefit from strength training because it is soft and does not produce as much of an impact as other workouts. It also can help older clients maintain their balance that will inevitably lessen the chance of a fall. 

Brain Power

Brainpower is something that can also decrease with age. Working out helps prevent the possibility of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in older clients, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Pilates can help older people get to that point. There are varying exercises that can help them with this, such as lifting and lowering their leg up and down while maintaining stability. It could be something difficult, like moving multiple body parts at the same time. This is where the Reformer comes into play, as it could help the client build repetitive movement choreography. It also helps them keep their minds and brains active. 

Joint Health

The joints are especially precious and tender when people get older. About 49.6 percent of people over the age of 65 reported that they had arthritis, according to the CDC. With Pilates, older clients can strengthen their joints by partaking in repetitive, flowing movements that help keep their joints lubricated and nourished. The three most important joints for older people are the spine, hips, and feet. When they do Pilates, it can help prevent or prolong the need for surgeries like hip or knee replacements. Pilates can also benefit people who suffer from arthritis. It does this by strengthening the muscles that surround joints for long-term benefits. 

Walking Tall

When people pass the age of 40, a majority of them can lose up to a ½-inch of height or more for each decade. What Pilates does to help prevent this is to help the client improve their poor posture, and it builds the weaker muscles up. It also stretches the tight muscles in their bodies. 

As Pilates teachers, encourage your clients to lengthen their spines. By doing this, it helps promote decompression of the intervertebral discs between the vertebrae that can deteriorate. Seniors can have bad habits such as hunching their backs, or not lifting their feet to walk. This signals that theory mobility may not be the greatest and they need some work. As a Pilates teacher, you can work to strengthen your client’s back, and doing this, can help open up their chest and shoulders. Once you do this, it helps reverse kyphotic posture in senior clients. Not only are you doing that, but your goal with your senior clients is also to keep all their joints mobile for accurate movement mechanics. When your clients maintain mobility, it gives them the tools they need for better posture and longer strides when they walk. 

Accident Proofing

About 36 million senior citizens fall every year, according to the CDC. Pilates helps reduce the risk of accidents from falls or any other incidents that can cause an injury or death. One aspect of Pilates that helps do this is breathing techniques. This helps strengthen both the abdominal wall and the pelvic floor. As a Pilates teacher, help your client to work on their pelvic floor to help get them to where they need to be.

With Pilates, your clients can gain the tools they need to feel more energized and calm. These exercises can help them reduce their stress and give them clarity. Joseph Pilates firmly believed that age was not the determining factor if you were flexible. Pilates teachers can help their clients make that quote a reality. 



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