At FAI, we are focused on one big thing: training to make a difference in clients’ lives! When clients say they are now doing things they haven’t done in years or never even dreamed possible, you know you are changing lives!

We talk specifically about helping clients with their need to do, like to do, and want to do tasks in life. Let’s be honest, the need to do stuff like chores, grocery shopping, basic activities of living, etc. is not really all that exciting. But the like to do and want to do and even dream to do stuff is where quality of life can really be measured.

For example, I still remember well when JoAnn (pictured) came to us, and she had her share of physical challenges. She had had heart bypass surgery, two knee replacements, spinal fusions and her biggest challenge — Parkinson’s disease. Like many of us, JoAnn still had dreams, but at 80 her mobility had become a problem. She was afraid her dream of visiting the Galapagos Islands might be slipping away. In fact, she had some serious doubts after reviewing the trip literature.

While I had my concerns, I knew even if she didn’t go on the trip, we could dramatically change her quality of life. I asked two questions: what did the trip warn you to be prepared for and what exactly will you need to be physically prepared to do? JoAnn needed to do these four things:
● Climb in and out of a small Zodiac boat
● Navigate a beach that could be sloped, wet, sandy, rocky and uneven
● Walk at least a mile on somewhat uneven terrain
● Not be so fatigued that she became a burden to others, her husband especially

I didn’t feel like that was a terribly difficult list, and I asked her if she was willing to train 3-4 times per week with us and do what we recommend. I remember saying, “I think your dream is still within your grasp, but it will take some effort. Are you willing to give it everything you’ve got?” JoAnn replied, “If you think there is a chance, then I will give it my all.”

You can see from the pictures Joann made that trip of a lifetime. Additionally, she went on to train with us until she was 87 years old! Seven years as a client! You see, sometimes we get too caught up in the “fitness” and “equipment,” and we need to simply listen to what our clients want to do and dream to do and then prepare (train) them to go do it.

So here are a couple tips to help you train your clients for their real-life goals:
  1. Interview your clients to find out their desires, needs and dreams for their next several years.
  2. Design your training sessions with exercises focused on specific activities they want to perform — golf, tennis, pickleball, playing with grandkids, tag, kickball, wiffle-ball, hide and seek, etc.
  3. Inspire your clients with real client success stories of adventures and family events, such as caving in Oooo Dong-Long or dancing at a granddaughter’s wedding.
  4. Believe that clients at any age can do amazing adventurous things in life!
Your current clients and your next potential client have no idea what life may call them to in the future. My grandmother Winnie was called to teach English as a second language in Pakistan when she was 80, and guess what? She was physically able and ready to go. Your clients have many more opportunities still ahead. Be sure you are preparing them for everything life may call them to do.

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