Programming BRAAD into your gorup fitness for the the 40-plus guy

    From Fitness Trainer May/June

Balance. Reaction. Acceleration. Agility. Declaration. All key components of a wellrounded, and effective, group fitness class. And in my opinion even more important for the 40-plus guy.

While group fitness has traditionally appealed to the ladies; we’re starting to see more men than ever stepping into the studio from boutique settings to commercial powerhouses. And as any group fitness instructor knows, understanding your audience is essential in offering an effective—and respected—class. Which is where BRAAD comes in; especially when working with the 40-plus guy.

Incorporating the base elements of BRAAD into a specialized class can, and will, quickly transform that bootcamp into a gentleman’s club of highly functional participants.

Let’s start by constructing the foundational pillars of this club.


Let’s face the facts, the older we get the more our balance goes.

One factor setting it all off kilter is that, for most, muscle mass is also diminishing; so as

you’d have it, that mind- muscle connection that came with those muscle fibers is diminishing too.

Fortunately, some fine-tuned programming can help do the trick. Utilizing simple drills in your group fitness classes can be the start to rekindling that connection. What many people don’t realize is that by incorporating a balance factor the central nervous system starts firing off commands for the motor neurons to activate muscle fibers. And zap! The entire body responds to the new balance demand.

Drill Time: Strong and Stabilized

  • Most people when they think of making a traditional exercise like bicep curl to shoulder press more challenging they think increase the weight—but not so quick!
  • The Real Balance Challenge. Stand on one leg and perform the movement.
  • This not only activates their CNS by standing on one leg, but they also activate the core because of the unilaterally placed load on the body.


Just as our balance decreases as we get older, so does our reaction time. The good news is research has proven although our brains are slowing down they are much like a muscle untrained. If you use it you don’t lose it.

Now reaction training is a little different than normal strength training exercises in the gym. Reaction is defined as how quickly you respond to a movement or your body is able to respond. Just as young children performing soccer drills on the field, class participants too can perform some of the same drills or similar drills to improve their response to a situation.

Drill Time: A Game of Skill

  • In boxing we use focus mitts. In kali we use stick drills. In the gym just a simple light dumbbell drop or use of a reaction ball for a warm up will help improve reaction time.
  • The Real Reaction Challenge. Bring out the inner kid.
  • When we were kids we played red light green light. This was all about a reaction time with your ears and eyes. It’s funny to me how that now that we are older we have forgotten how to play.
  • Some of the best drills in the world are the ones we grew up with when we were kids.



We know through plenty of research that repetition is the mother of all skill. And with time, agility can be trained all the way into the elderly. I myself have used tools like agility ladders and cones for clients in their 80s! Agility is the ability to move in multiple directions with speed and accuracy.

Agility training has been shown to reduce the risk of injury in even everyday life. When you’re crossing the street while texting away or chatting it up on the phone, and spot that pothole in the very last second it’s agility training that will prevent a trip and fall—because the body is prepared and can quickly react to sudden shifts in movement.

Drill Time: Injury Prevention in Action

  • You can use agility drills for a warm up, in the mix of a workout, or as a cool down.
  • Agility causes people to think outside the box and add an important element into their fitness plan.



This concept is really simple. Basically getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Acceleration happens everyday and people tend to discount it. You cant even get up out of your chair unless you tell your legs to move and your core to fire off. If your participants are weekend warriors in sports or train like I do in martial arts regularly this will keep them able to keep up with the 20 and 30 something guys in the gym. I like

the fact that at 51 I can keep up with, if not bury, 30 year olds in the gym and in the ring. As we get older we get more efficient and effective ,as well as know what’s in our tank.

Drill Time: A Need for Speed

  • Acceleration drills and skills can be incorporated as a warm up, workout and cool down.
  • The idea is to think completely out of the box vs thinking it always has to be about strength.
  • If you look at olympic lifting the clean and snatch is all about speed. Strength alone is not enough to pull the weight from the floor to the over head position.


Being able to slow down is the key to decreasing injuries. When you look at traditional weight lifting the lift is the acceleration which is the explosive phase . The lowering of the weight is the deceleration. For the 40 plus guys, paying attention to the down phase of an exercise will decrease the chance of injuries and enhance their performance. Especially if the are doing weekend sports.



Drill Time: The Notion of Slow Motion

Kevin Kearns

Is founder and CEO of Burn with Kearns, where he is responsible for the worldwide development and implementation of personal training continuing education courses and group fitness licensing programs. For over 25 years, Kevin Kearns has been professionally involved in the fitness industry. In 2013, he was named an All Star Conference Presenter for IDEA, the worlds largest association for fitness and wellness professionals. Based on his extensive martial arts and fitness backgrounds, Kevin has served as the strength and conditioning coach for professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters. He is certified by the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association), is a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Certified Specialist, a FreeMotion Master Trainer and member of Team Bosu. In the summer of 2013, Kevin released a book, “Always Picked Last,” about how bullying impacted his childhood and the lessons he learned in overcoming it.