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 instructor lionellWhat’s your fitness goal? Improve balance? Gain strength? Prevent injuries or bounce back from one? No matter what your goal, SilverSneakers classes—in person or in your living room—can help you reach it.

Even better, you won’t have to do it alone. You’ll have SilverSneakers instructors who are 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 with more ease.

“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.

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

SilverSneakers instructors learn common health issues that older adults may experience. For example, bones become weaker with age, making them 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 throughout all of their 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. It’s a very common fear. Luckily, physical activity is safe—and beneficial—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 restrictions from your doctor, so that they can modify exercises to help you stay safe.

If you have high blood pressure, for instance, your instructors might coach you to slow 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.

If you’re taking a class in person, talk to the instructor before or after class. If you’re taking an online class, take advantage of Zoom’s chat function. See how in our guide to SilverSneakers LIVE.

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

Balance problems often occur with age, thanks to changes in our bones, joints, and muscles. Unfortunately, that also means that one in four Americans age 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 to recover from a fall: 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 always ask instructors for modifications, or use a chair if one is available.

Our Instructors Know: How to Tweak Exercises to Prevent Injury

Some workouts put older adults at a 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 that you don’t bend too far forward or backward, so that you don’t cause pain in your low back. And they’ll skip any movement that places the head below the heart for a prolonged period of time, as it can lead to dizziness.

In addition, when you do exercises that involve your shoulders or hips, you’ll do fewer repetitions, which helps 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 a newbie. And when you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to skip working out.

SilverSneakers instructors get it. More than that, they know how to turn fitness classes in person and online into can’t-wait-to-go events 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 styles 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 for 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!” and “You folks are our lifeline during COVID-19.”

Take Your Favorite SilverSneakers Classes Online!

SilverSneakers members can access live fitness classes and wellness workshops through SilverSneakers LIVE. See the latest schedule and RSVP for classes here.

Not a member? If you have a Medicare Plan, it may include SilverSneakers—at no additional cost. Check your eligibility instantly here.

Find out if your health plan already includes the SilverSneakers benefit. CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY