Sarah Galway is currently a PhD student in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at Brock University. Her research focuses on promoting and implementing enjoyable exercise experiences for individuals across the lifespan. She has worked at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being the past 4 years designing exercise programs for older adults. During COVID-19 she taught online gentle yoga and circuit classes for older adults with varying function abilities.
Build it and they will come: Constructing effective online exercise programs for the aging population
Olivia is currently studying under the supervision of Dr. Kimberley Gammage at Brock University, entering her second year in the MSc of Applied Health Sciences program. Her research primarily focuses on balance and physical activity among older adult populations and understanding perceptions of balance and fear of falling in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis) during COVID-19. For many years she has facilitated and designed an array of exercise classes and programs, that have now shifted to an online format. Some classes include a) a PD circuit class, designed to target balance and full-body movement using external instructional cues; b) a stability ball class that targets balance and core strength through yoga and range of motion; c) a stability ball online-circuit class, designed to elevate heart rate for moderate to active older adults.
Dr. Gammage is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Brock University and the Director of the SeniorFit exercise program at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being. Her research in exercise psychology and body image examines how exercise can lead to improved psychological well-being as well as factors that can promote exercise participation across diverse populations, including older adults and individuals with chronic disease and spinal cord injury. She teaches a course on Exercise Programing for Older Adults, in which undergraduate students work with seniors in an exercise setting, delivering group fitness classes and one-on-one training. She is actively involved in teaching fitness classes for seniors, including yoga and circuit classes.
Sarah Galway, Brock University, Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-being, Canada
Olivia Parker and Kimberley Gammage, Brock University, Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-being, Canada
Older adults have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19 and its related restrictions. One consequence for older adults (aged 70+) has been a reduction in physical activity, with up to a 53% decrease in exercise frequency in this age group. Given the physical and mental health benefits of physical activity in seniors, finding new ways to promote and deliver physical activity and exercise has been critical while exercise facilities have been closed. In March 2020, the Brock Niagara Centre for Health and Well-being, a community-based exercise facility in St. Catharines, Ontario that offers specialized exercise programming for individuals over the age of 55 as well as those with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and Parkinson’s disease, closed for in-person exercise. Immediately, we began offering online, synchronous group fitness classes for members (e.g., yoga, circuit classes, dancefit). Since that time, our program offerings have expanded to include asynchronous group fitness videos and online one-on-one personal training.
This interactive workshop will focus on the lessons learned from our experiences developing and delivering online exercise programming to older adults during COVID-19. This workshop will be led by Dr. Kimberley L. Gammage, Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Brock University and director of the SeniorFit exercise program at the Centre, and Faculty of Applied Health Sciences graduate students Sarah Galway and Olivia Parker. All three have designed and delivered a variety of exercise classes at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this workshop, the presenters will share their experiences and best practices about the following aspects of online exercise programming for older adults:
- Teaching successfully in an online format versus in-person, including instructional cuing and motivational techniques
- Creating a safe and effective experience for clients
- Overcoming challenges of technology and troubleshooting commonly experienced issues
- ‘Selling’ the online experience to clients
- Effectively training online fitness instructors
- Integrating online offerings upon the return to in-person programming
This workshop will include the following:
- Video demonstrations of effective motivational cuing and safety
- Tips and techniques for delivering live and pre-recorded exercise programming for older adults and those with age-related morbidities in group and one-on-one formats
- Live and video demonstrations of how to deliver effective instruction
- Principles for providing appropriate modifications for a variety of individuals of varying functional levels.
- Examples of how to foster social interaction in online settings
- Guidelines for training instructors to work on an online platform
- Group discussion of best practices
- Question and answer period