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Where Do You Fit on the Fitness Spectrum?

fitness hieracrchy

On the fitness spectrum of physical ability, where do you rank?

More importantly, where do you want to rank?

Let’s look at a five-point scale. Most people over 50 fall into one of these categories.

  1. Elite athlete
  2. Fit
  3. Independent
  4. Frail
  5. Dependent

We’ll look at each in more detail below. But take a guess now which one applies to you. How does that make you feel? Surely no one wants to think of themselves as dependent or frail – and everyone’s fitness goals are different, ranging from healthy function to high-level sports competition.

That’s what’s so liberating about a healthy lifestyle: It lets you live the way you want to live, whatever that means to you.

Give me a call and let me help you enjoy getting to where you want to be or maintaining your fitness level in fun, new ways. Exercise is the best medicine – and, no, it’s not too late to start.

The Fitness Spectrum From elite to dependent 


Here’s how the Functional Aging Institute breaks down the stages, with broad direction on how people in each group can benefit from fitness training. It’s a good structure to begin a discussion.


Description: These are the most healthy and functional folks, those who are regular exercisers and probably involved in recreational sports. They have advanced physical abilities, and they love working hard at their fitness.

Outlook: “Given their advanced physical abilities, there is really no limit on what they can do in a training session,” says FAI’s Cody Sipe.


Description: Most fit mature adults are considered fit in the area they train but might be deficient in other areas. Maybe a strong runner has low strength, or a strong man has poor flexibility. There’s such a big range here that FAI notes the distinction between “fully fit” and “semi-fit.”

Outlook: “They need a heavier focus on the specific areas in which they are deficient,” Cody says.


Description: The average mature adult can perform daily tasks on their own, but they don’t participate in any vigorous activities. This is the largest category, and some mature adults get trapped in complacency here, thinking that their independence means they don’t need to exercise. But that can lull them into a dangerous place, where one fall or injury can knock them down to “frail” or “dependent” status.

Outlook: “This group needs a well-rounded mix with a focus on increasingly complex movements and those that challenge dynamic balance.”


Description: People at this stage have low functional abilities in most or all aspects – strength, poor balance, energy, etc. They need help performing everyday tasks.

Outlook: “They require an emphasis on basic strength and power exercises, as well as basic gait and mobility patterns. Balance movements should be more static and performed with caution because they have a high risk of falling.”


Individuals in this group typically require specialized one-on-one assistance and would need in-home face-to-face training rather than an online program. 

Everyone is different 


We know that you’re an individual, not a member of a demographic or even a subset on a scale like this.

Functional fitness doesn’t necessarily track with chronological age. If you don’t know a super-fit 80-year-old, you’ve seen examples of them in the media. And, sadly, it’s more likely that you know, perhaps, someone who is 60 and frail.

I am here to help you get or stay fit by your own definition, for your own purposes. Those might include independence, fitness and maybe even elite athleticism way more than frailty and dependence.

Do You Want to Move Up the Fitness Spectrum?


Now that you have some idea of where you fall on the fitness spectrum, what do you want to do about it?

If you want to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, call me today and we’ll schedule an assessment to find out!

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1 thought on “Where Do You Fit on the Fitness Spectrum?”

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