But the trainer he used ignored Tony’s personal needs and past injuries, even when Tony said he didn’t like certain exercises.
“He just kept saying ‘Do it more’ and ‘Try harder,’” Tony says. “I quit going. I just didn’t see the point.”
Too bad Tony lives far away. If he worked out with us, we would help him modify workouts to fit his specific requirements and limitations.
We’re able to do that because we know that everyone is different. Particularly later in life, we’re more likely to have experienced injuries, surgeries, or some other event that can limit our ability.
There’s nothing wrong with that. And it’s definitely not an excuse to stop working out.
It simply means you have to be more mindful of what you’re doing – and, if you use a trainer, be sure that person has the ability to suggest modifications that will keep you safe and still give you a good workout.
What’s A Modification?
A modification is just a simple change to an exercise or a substitute to accommodate an injury, inability, or weakness.
There is nothing wrong with needing a modification. Everyone does at some point, even top athletes who have been injured. They don’t stop exercising. They just do some things differently.
“I work out. I lift heavy. I play hockey,” says trainer Jim Adams, host of the Masters in Fitness Business podcast. “I’m 51. I can still train hard, but you can’t train like you’re 25. You can’t get in with some 25-year-old trainer who says, ‘Hey I squat, it’s good for me – let’s get you on the squat machine!’”
A basic example of a modification is the push-up. For a full-body pushup, you’re on your toes and hands for the full range of motion. But some people need to drop to their knees. Others might start out doing push-ups on a wall and work their way up.
This could be caused by a lack of upper-body strength or confidence. But it could also be because of injury. For instance, if you’ve had surgery to remove a bone spur on your toe, you’re not going to want to put pressure directly on it.
Now, as another example, extend that idea to someone who has had knee or hip replacement. It might not be time yet for full-on squats.
Or someone like Tony, who has lower back pain and tight hips.
Make the Workout Fit You, Not the Other Way Around
We’re here to assess your condition and individual needs – and to get you going on the workout that’s best for you.
If someone tries to push you into a cookie-cutter routine – especially if it’s uncomfortable or painful – stop immediately and look for someone else.
Tony did, and he found a trainer who helped him hit the tennis ball harder – and a Pilates class to strengthen his core.
“You know, it’s OK to get older. I know I can’t do everything I used to be able to do,” he says. “I want to work out with a trainer who understands that at least as well as I do.”
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.