5 Things SilverSneakers Instructors Know That Other Trainers Don’t

By Mandy Walker |

What makes SilverSneakers classes so special: They’re led by supportive instructors who are trained in senior fitness.

silversneakers instructors

What’s your fitness goal? Improve balance? Gain strength? Prevent injury or bounce back from one? No matter your goal, SilverSneakers classes can help you reach it.

Even better, you won’t have to do it alone. You’ll have a SilverSneakers instructor who is trained in senior fitness to guide and support you. In fact, they’re one of the reasons why SilverSneakers members love our classes.

SilverSneakers instructors are uniquely qualified to work with older adults, says Julie Logue, M.P.H., training manager at SilverSneakers. They prioritize exercises that are safe, effective, and can help you move through life.

“Stronger muscles and better endurance make it easier to carry groceries, work in the garden, and even play with your grandchildren,” Logue says.

Here’s what SilverSneakers instructors know that other exercise pros may not—and how they can help you on your fitness journey.

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Our Instructors Know: How to Keep Your Bones and Joints Safe

SilverSneakers instructors learn common health issues older adults may experience. For example, bones become weaker with age, so we’re more prone to fractures. And joints get less flexible due to normal wear and tear.

That’s why SilverSneakers instructors teach you to move smoothly and under control through all exercises. You’ll avoid quick starts and stops to limit unnecessary stress on your bones and joints.

“We prepare instructors to be strategic about how they work with aging bodies, so that exercises are safe but beneficial,” Logue says.

Our Instructors Know: How to Adapt Exercises for Your Needs

If you have a chronic condition like arthritis, diabetes, or osteoporosis, you might be worried that you’ll hurt yourself if you exercise. That’s a very common fear. Luckily, physical activity is safe for almost everyone, according to the latest fitness guidelines. The first step is talking to your doctor.

Got the green light to exercise? Good. Let your SilverSneakers instructors know about any health issues or instructions from your doctor, so they can modify exercises to help you stay safe.

If you have high blood pressure, for instance, your instructors might coach you to slow down your breathing while lifting weights. This will help steady your heartbeat and blood pressure.

“I see a lot of trainers and group instructors teaching very intense classes with high repetitions,” Logue says. “That’s not safe for many older adults.”

Have balance issues? In many SilverSneakers classes, including yoga, you have the option of using a chair for support during standing exercises. Or you can sit down to do seated exercises.

You can also let your SilverSneakers instructors know if an exercise feels too easy. They can suggest safe ways to make it more challenging so you can continue to see results.

Our Instructors Know: How to Help Lower Your Risk of Falls

Balance problems often occur with age, thanks to changes in our bones, joints, and muscles. Unfortunately, that also means one in four Americans ages 65 and older will fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the best ways to help prevent falls or recover from one: exercise. SilverSneakers classes can strengthen your ankles, knees, and hips for a sturdy foundation. Plus, they can improve your core strength and upper-body posture—you need both to stay upright and steady.

SilverSneakers instructors are also trained to break down workouts into small segments to make them easier to learn, Logue says. And remember, you can ask instructors for modifications, or use a chair if one is available.

Already had a fall? Ask your doctor these questions to help you recover after a fall-related injury.

Our Instructors Know: How to Tweak Exercises to Prevent Injury

Some workouts put older adults at greater risk of injury. SilverSneakers instructors learn specific exercise recommendations to help you avoid sprains, strains, and other issues.

For example, when you’re exercising in a seated position, your instructors will ensure you don’t bend too far forward or back so you don’t cause pain in your lower back. And they’ll skip any movement that places the head below the heart for a prolonged period of time, which can lead to dizziness.

In addition, when you do exercises that involves your shoulders or hips, you’ll do fewer repetitions to lower your risk of injury.

Our Instructors Know: How to Spark a Love for Fitness

Let’s face it, even if you’re a class regular, some days it can be tough to put on your workout gear and get moving. Or if you’ve never exercised before and are just starting, it can be nerve-racking to show up as the newbie.

SilverSneakers instructors get it. More than that, they know how to turn a fitness class into a can’t-wait-to-go event with a warm environment. And when you leave, they hope you feel empowered.

“The friendly and supportive tone our instructors bring to every class truly sets them apart from other trainers,” Logue says.

SilverSneakers instructors also bring their own individual style to classes. Coach Barrett Murphy, the 2019 SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year, loves exercises that work hand-eye coordination. Other instructors are known for explaining how each exercise helps you move in real life or planning class celebrations for holidays.

Members are also encouraged to support one another—and they do. In fact, they often become great friends and get together outside of class with potlucks or outings around town. What members often say: “We work hard while having fun!”

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SilverSneakers is a health and fitness program designed for adults 65+ that’s included with many Medicare Plans. Learn more about SilverSneakers here.

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