Today, the oldest baby boomers are now in their 70s, and even the youngest boomers are fast approaching 60. And, perhaps because the underlying nature of YMCAs and JCCs is being involved in the community, many seniors and boomers are more comfortable joining a Y or JCC for their fitness needs than a traditional health club.
This means in many cases, Ys and JCCs have a higher percentage of their membership being in the 60-plus age demographic. This also means wellness directors must be ever-vigilant in researching senior-friendly fitness products, classes, activities and so forth.
A favorite “macro” category of fitness products popular with the 60-plus age demographic is recumbent fitness products. Years ago, this simply meant recumbent exercise bikes, but in recent years, we’ve seen recumbent steppers and even recumbent ellipticals added under the recumbent fitness umbrella.
Each of these modalities has something to offer for different populations. Someone in functional decline may be better suited to start on a recumbent stepper. Likewise, someone recovering from a knee replacement, or someone who has lost knee flexion due to not properly rehabbing after a knee replacement, may also be best suited to a recumbent stepper.
A more robust senior with relatively unaffected range of motion may find a recumbent elliptical or recumbent cycle more suitable for their needs.
Relatively new to the mix of recumbent fitness products are recumbent lateral trainers. Much like upright or weight bearing trainers, lateral trainers offer several benefits when compared to other weight bearing modalities, such as more muscle activation, a more complete workout, more calories burned, and engaging a second plane of motion. Recumbent lateral trainers offer benefits beyond those offered by other recumbent modalities.
Traditional recumbent modalities are sagittal plane-only movements. Recumbent lateral trainers are a multi-planar movement, so right out of the gate, users add extra muscle activation to the mix. More muscle activation equals more calories burned and a more complete workout.
Next, recumbent lateral trainers engage some hard-to-train muscle groups, such as inner and outer thighs. The bi-directional nature of recumbent lateral trainers adds to the thoroughness of the workout. They even improve range of motion (ROM) of the hips, and strengthen the muscles and connective tissues of the hips.
Perhaps most importantly, recumbent lateral trainers engage the gluteus medius. Wellness directors (and trainers) know that consistently engaging the gluteus medius will result in improved lateral stability. Improved lateral stability translates to a reduced risk of falling. In fact, a recent research study of a leading recumbent lateral trainer found that seniors using the product only moderately (3.5 times per week, 5 minutes per session, at Level 1 resistance) for just 16 weeks, improved their lateral stability an average of 59%.
Think about what a game-changer that could be for senior exercisers.
Scott Logan is the vice president of marketing and a principal of Helix Lateral Trainers. He has been in the fitness industry since 1990, and is in his seventh year with Helix.