Jan. 5 2024

Sometimes as trainers we forget about our clients’ goals and dreams, and we start training sets and reps


At Functional Aging Institute (FAI), we talk all the time about training your clients for ‘need to do,’ ‘like to do,’ and ‘want to do’ activities. We constantly stress that you should keep your program design focused on what clients like and want to do in life.

Sometimes as trainers we forget about our clients’ goals and dreams, and we start training sets and reps.

This summer, I had the great joy of attending a Yankees game for the first time in my life. I would say that has to fit in the want to do or even dream to do activity list! It is not something I will get to do often, so I started to get a little nostalgic thinking about taking my two sons with me, one of whom is a really big Cubs fan and was super excited to get to see the Cubs play in Yankee Stadium.

Now, this wasn’t a massively challenging functional task, but I started to take note as we entered the subway station, counting how many stairs and people we had to navigate. Standing on a subway train, my 14-year-old son Ryan noticed quickly that it took some reactive balance… and you were likely to get bumped into!

We stopped off at Times Square since Ryan had never seen it, and then we added several thousand steps in a large crowd and an overwhelming amount of external stimulus. Even Ryan found it to be a little too much, and we headed back to the subway and on to the Bronx.

After climbing out of the subway station for the second time in less than an hour (more stairs), we entered the long line to enter the stadium, and after a few thousand more steps and more stairs, we found our seats. Then, after an historic Cubs win 3-0 (the Cubs had never won in Yankee Stadium in 12 previous tries), we had to do it all over again: stairs, crowds, curbs, subways swaying packed with people, etc.

I can’t imagine missing it with Luke and Ryan because it was too many steps, too many stairs, too tiring, or even a possible fall risk. I tallied 10,916 steps that Friday afternoon/evening, and now the 3 of us forever have the memory of being in Yankee Stadium together. We got to see the Cubbies get their first ever win and Fly the W at Yankee Stadium!

Sometimes we overthink fitness. All we really need to do is train people so they can have these experiences with their loved ones and do them with ease and enjoyment.

In fact, when we look at the 6-domains of function chart, we see we have to be training in each of these areas to be able to handle a trip to a major city ballgame. Even the cognitive component was significant as there were signs to notice and so many stimuli from so many different places to manage. If you are training your clients so they can have even more memorable peak experiences in life, then you will become an indispensable resource in their journey for years to come.

Dr. Dan Ritchie is the president and co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute. Dan also owns and operates Miracles Fitness in West Lafayette, Indiana, where they have trained over 2,500 clients since 2007. Dan was the 2014 PFP Trainer of the Year and is a sought-after expert and speaker at national and international events on topics like balance for older adults, fitness business development, the global aging phenomenon, and functional aging training models. Learn more at www.functionalaginginstitute.com.