Fitness: How to stay active (and find the perfect trainer) after 40

As everyone is probably way too aware of, metabolism drastically slows after age 40. Exercise, then, becomes more important —even as it possibly becomes more difficult.

Working with a personal trainer can help those in the 40-and-over demographic figure out how best to move their bodies and strengthen a mind-body connection as they’re aging.

“Once you get to that age, it becomes more about a holistic approach,” said Nicole Kube, a 39-year-old personal trainer at The Gym KC. “You can’t do what you used to do, and things you used to do maybe aren’t as effective.”

As baby boomers age — and often take on post-retirement careers — many of them are becoming personal trainers. According to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association, the percentage of trainers age 65 and older who attend their national convention more than doubled from 5 to 12 percent between 2004 and 2010.

So for those in the 40-and-over category looking for a trainer in their own peer group, they are certainly out there — and in greater numbers than before.

However, simply looking for a trainer the same age as you isn’t necessarily the best option. Much like women can successfully train men despite differences in their anatomy (and vice versa), younger trainers can educate themselves to train the older demographic.

It’s all about approach. There are a few qualities trainers should have if they want to be successful with clients over 40.

Cory Davis, a personal trainer at Zone 6 Fitness in North Kansas City, recommends looking for a trainer with “a rehab approach.”

Davis got into personal training after working in physical therapy. After getting a degree in exercise science, she worked as a physical therapy assistant and noticed that much of her work was reactionary. Instead of treating her clients’ injuries, she wanted to prevent them by teaching proper movement patterns.

Having a background in rehabilitation helped Davis in her personal training career. Many of her clients are over 40, so much of her approach involves teaching people to kick their bad movement habits.

If you’ve worked a desk job for three decades, you could be dealing with movement or posture issues that have become ingrained. Having a professional help you work out of those can be critical.

“If you spent 40 or 45 years doing the same thing the same way, and someone is telling you how to do it differently, it’ll take a long time,” Davis said.

Once you find a trainer able to work with you on functional movement, it’s time to think about nutrition, Kube said.

“That’s such a huge part of staying healthy as you get older, especially for women,” Kube said. “After you turn 35, the hormones that tell your body you’re full don’t work as well.”

She recommends looking for a trainer who can give advice on food from a holistic point of view.

“It’s not just about coming into the gym for an hour” two or three times a week, Kube said. “What’s the trainer giving you to work with the other four or five days?”

Logistically, finding a trainer with all these qualifications can be difficult. But it might become easier.

As the fitness industry integrates more fully with the healthcare profession, it’s possible your doctor, physical therapist or even your chiropractor could have referrals for trainers in your area.

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