No one should judge a fellow gym member because of age. So how do you spot ageism that has a negative effect on a fellow gym member? And what are the benefits of having a workout partner with many more years of fitness experience? Read on to learn more.
A common way of infantilizing older people is using terms like sweetie or using baby talk, especially when you don’t do so with others. Doing so doesn’t give older people the respect they deserve and want…just like everyone else. Address everyone, in your normal speaking voice, using the name they give you during the introduction.
Fitness levels and abilities run the gamut regardless of age. A fit 70-year-old may be able to perform better than someone much younger. Trust that older gym goers belong there. No matter their fitness level they also want to enjoy a good workout.
Don’t offer help unless you have been asked
Likewise, don’t assume older gym goers don’t know how to use the equipment and need your advice for everything. Avoid being over solicitous and assuming incompetence or inexperience.
Know older gym goers have goals too
Achieving a new personal best provides motivation for everyone, regardless of age. Talk with older gym goers about their goals, accomplishments and training program.
Why have a workout partner with many more years’ experience?
There are lots of reasons to snag an older workout buddy. Here are just a few:
Emotional maturity – Age gives a level of perspective you can only gain with lived experience. Fitness wisdom can help you stay grounded during the ups and downs you are likely to face as you work to nail new fitness goals.
Inspiration – In our youth-obsessed culture there is a great fear of aging. Working out with someone older can give you confidence that you can continue to be active and vibrant as you age.
Experience – Many years of fitness experience may mean you have a better idea of what works. Skip the latest training fad and work with an experienced partner who can give you the goods on how to finally get in shape.
Fun – Older people can be just as engaging and fun to work out with as anyone else. In fact, you may also find that they have more compassion, empathy and perseverance – an added bonus.
No one likes to be pigeonholed. When you meet anyone new, try to adopt a posture of curiosity. Get to know who they are outside of your limiting assumptions. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Older people are just people. Like everyone they want to feel connected, valued and seen as unique individuals.