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It's Personal and it's Professional: The meanings women Baby-boomers attribute to their ageing and 'working-out' with a personal trainer.

Greater numbers of older populations is the emerging norm for all countries, and something that triggered the World Health Organization to revise its 2002 global ageing strategy. In the 2015 document, greater emphasis is given to the concept of active ageing, a lifestyle all individuals are encouraged to embrace as a way to facilitate ‘ageing well’. Such an ideal is in part fostered by the Baby-boomer heading into their ‘old’ age where there is a high probability many will live to eighty years and beyond. Physical activity is one component of active ageing but translating the unequivocal evidence into practice is a daunting task at a population and individual level. There is no shortage of research on physical activity and ageing, but little attention has been given to trying to understand the experience from the point-of-view of the ‘older’ person. This study was in part inspired by an increasing number of Baby-boomer women who were not only conscious about their own ageing, but endeavouring to prepare for a long life well-lived. This study, which is situated in the theoretical framework of social constructionism, set out to unravel the active ageing experiences from a life course perspective and what actually transpires when 18 women Baby-boomers employ the services of a Personal Trainer. The numerous semi-structured interviews and verbatim transcriptions were subjected to on-going analysis, during which I recognised that in spite of the ‘richness’ of data, not all the subtleties could be captured. This, however, did not detract from the analysis where three dominant themes emerged. Supporting the need for a ‘life-course’ approach to fully understand physical activity at a personal level, the meanings of the experiences fluctuate and are negotiated, and there is a ‘resistance’ to the ageing discourse. This study broadens and shares alternative insights about women’s activeageing and challenges the commonly held assumptions about how women position their ageing in the context of being physically active in varying ways. These Baby-boomers have ‘grown-up’ with the fitness industry, an industry whereby Personal Trainers are well placed to assist Boomers in their activeageing ambitions. This study has particular relevance to, as well as advice for, those working in health promotion and the fitness industry. A future more active ‘older’ population is possible, but according to the Boomers who participated in this study any level of substantive change will not happen by chance.
Type of thesis
Sweet, W. G. (2017). It’s Personal and it’s Professional: The meanings women Baby-boomers attribute to their ageing and ‘working-out’ with a personal trainer. (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11611
The University of Waikato
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