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Coaching the Elderly - Introduction by Jim Baker - CrossFit Journal

In Coaching, Special Populations, Videos

October 10, 2008

Video Article

Jimmy Baker is 61, and has been training CrossFit for over a decade. He is a co-owner of CrossFit Santa Cruz Central. His youngest client is in her mid-fifties, and his oldest is in her mid-eighties.

Jim explains that training the elderly is not simply a matter of scaling workouts. There are many considerations such as long term injuries, medications, balance, and vision that affect their ability to train. They still need to work hard at a variety of functional movements, of course, just not always with the same approach as the young.

In this first episode, Jimmy gives a general introduction to these considerations, and his approach to coaching the elderly.

7min 39sec

Free Download


22 Comments on “Coaching the Elderly - Introduction”


wrote …

That was quite insightful, thanks for posting.

I would like to see more from Jimmy.



Rob McBee wrote …

Great work Jim! Thank you for the insights. Your clients are lucky to have you. I watched my grandfather and aunt deteriorate and spend their final days bedridden so I feel that maintaining that independence is more valuable than gold as we age. Very inspiring and thanks again.

Rob McBee
Crossfit Camas


wrote …

Very eye opening as a young athlete and trainer. I didn't realize how far passed scaling the workouts goes when working with special populations. Jim has really mastered the competency aspect of functional movements that we overlook in our youth. More videos from Jim would be very helpful as a trainer.


wrote …

they definitely need more useful training for the elderly. i volunteered at a physical therapy/rehab clinic for the elderly, and their exercise class involved a lot of nonsense with 1 lb dumbbells and 6 inch diameter swiss balls - all done while sitting on a seat.

i was thinking it would be a lot more useful if they just practiced standing up and sitting down.


wrote …

wut an excellent vid! Jim Baker's perspective and insight is a rare and valuable contribution to the CF community. more info/presentation/discussion on training our elder populations is a must!


wrote …

I would like to see more of Jimmy also...maybe even a certification for training the "elderly"?


wrote …

Thank you, Jimmy (and Coach Budding).

I have been discussing the merits of CrossFit with my 65 year old mother lately. She has never been particularly athletic, and is now battling with non-arthritic stiffness in her joints, and lower back pain. While she does walk on a daily basis, she doesn't exercise in a way that works her joints and spine through their full ROM.

This video has given me a few great discussion points, with which to assess her needs and abilities. I'd love to learn more from your experiences training the elderly.


Brian Opdenkelder
CrossFit Orillia


wrote …

Fantastic. I am 51 and just did my Cert 1 in September. I am a chiropractor and a lot of my patients are elderly and will benefit from this information. There is such a huge need for this type of work for elderly and I think they can be motivated with the possibility of maintaining their independance.

Bill Houghton
Marquette, Michigan


wrote …

Great work!! I also work with several aging clients and find a need to look for more diverse ways to apply functional movements to the work out, creating a WOD that takes into consideration each person and there physical ability and functional limitation's. This just gives me more food for thought and some creative ideas.

Thanks for the info.
Mark Daugherty
High Desert CrossFit


Cody Limbaugh wrote …

The majority of my clients are boomers 40-65 years old. We are constantly using the 'dogfood' analogy that was used in this video. We also 'preach' the squat. People have to be able to get up out of a seated position safely to mantain thier independence. Squat Squat Squat.
Thank you for this video-this is great information!
I look forward to seeing the rest!


wrote …

outstanding vid jim and tony!! thanks for putting this up. i am sending this to my family!!!


wrote …

Excellent article! The viral nature of the Crossfit movement can only be enhanced by making it accessable to people of all ages and fitness levels. This kind of content gives the converted more material to work with when speading the word. Keep up the good work.

Brad Willock
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


wrote …

We have crossfit kids, crossfit moms, crossfit endurance, the recent thoughts on crossfit for body builders- truly a diverse community. Perhaps someone as knowlegable as Jim Baker, if not Jim himself, could make available 'crossfit special populations'


wrote …

The articles on training and aging by Jim Baker and Mark Rippetoe are a great beginning, but I sure hope there are more of them. I am 65 and, as both articles pointed out, I have to constantly remind myself that I am no longer 25 or 30. Fortunately, Crossfit Athens offers a month long introduction to crossfit where I learned proper technique with free weights and many of the WODs. However, being retired from a university, I use its facility for my WOD because it better fits my budget. Its student physical activity center is not well arranged for Crossfit, but I seldom complain about the wait for equipment as I push through the WOD. :-) There is also the constant awareness that most people working out are far younger.

Future articles for those of us who think we are younger than the birthdays that have passed would be appreciated. Topics like: scaling of workouts, changes in ability as one ages, substitution exercises, and other ways to ensure we remain fit and independent without injury would be helpful.

Dan Hope III


replied to comment from Brian Opdenkelder

Hi Brian

There will be 2 more videos coming out on working with older clients. If you have some specific questions you can call me at night @ 831-688-7509. I will be glad to talk with you about your mom.



wrote …



wrote …

Thanks for confirming that my mother's upcoming birthday present -- a crossfit workout made just for her -- will actually make her feel stronger and more powerful. She's always complaining about her knees and lack of strength overall. I've been doing crossfit for only a few weeks, after a year of circuit training (with a trainer; no machines involved), and I'm absolutely dedicated to this training method). At 46, I am strong, fit and ready to take on any task the world has to offer... I want my 70 year old mom to reap at least some small benefit of the form and fitness I've gained from both circuit and crossfit. I think crossfit is the best choice for the elderly as it offers resistance and every-day fitness. I think she'll be surprised at how "easy" it is, in spite of my descriptions of the hardcore workouts I've been doing. Anyones input as to workouts for her would be greatly appreciated. Obviously, she won't be doing Fight Gone Bad ... but I'd like all input for what I can help her do to get her motivated and moving.


wrote …

A great article. I'm 55 and have been going to Crossfit since June with mostly 30-somethings (including my daughter and son in law) who are all wonderful, but I have to constantly remind my competitive self that I'm no longer 30-something. This article was very affirming and reminded me of the long term reasons why I'm doing this.

I agree with Daniel about ideas for future articles. Would love to see more on scaling of workouts, changes in ability as one ages, substitution exercises, and other ways to ensure we remain fit and independent without injury. And I love Fight Gone Bad - did it once (with modifications, of course), deadlifted 200 lbs at CF tonight and never get bored! Crossfit ROCKS!


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Great interview!
Jimmy brought up some excellent points.
I started CF in 2005 at the age of 55, and 4 years later I feel better & stronger than when I was much younger.
Keep up the great work, Jimmy!


wrote …

This great help to me (M/21/6'5/230) a college basket ball player in great shape as i train my dad (M/62/6'3/300). Often i forget that point of the Crossfit system is functional fitness. WHat is functional and practical to me is not to my dad. Great insight.


wrote …

Such an inspiring video. Probably one of the most thought provoking videos i have seen on the CrossFit site and something very close to my heart.
As a 57yo crossfitter (recent starter) i can relate to the work that Jim is doing.
Where was CrossFit when I was younger?


wrote …

I really enjoyed this video I am working with older clients too and would like to have more videos for the older crossfitters.

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