Unit of competency details

SISFFIT044 - Develop and instruct personalised exercise programs for older clients (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Supersedes SISFFIT014 - Instruct exercise to older clientsNon-equivalent. Title changed. Significant changes to structure and content of Elements and Performance Criteria. Performance Evidence amended: hours and client contact sessions removed, replaced with number and type of clients, and number and duration of sessions. Knowledge Evidence updated with significant additions and deletions. 09/Nov/2021

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 10/Nov/2021


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  15/Dec/2021 
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Unit of competency

Modification History

Supersedes and is not equivalent to SISFFIT014 Instruct exercise to older clients.


This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to develop and instruct exercise programs and sessions specifically tailored for individual older clients. Older clients are those aged at least 55 years; however, they can be significantly older. It covers skills for evaluating and modifying programs in response to client monitoring and feedback. Programs and sessions take account of the particular issues and risks for older clients.

It requires the ability to promote healthy ageing and integrate information from pre-exercise screenings, fitness assessments, and any medical guidance that may have been received for particular clients, to design suitable programs.

Program design involves effective application of exercise science principles. This unit has a direct relationship with, and is supported by, SISFFIT049 Use exercise science principles in fitness instruction.

This unit applies to personal trainers, who work independently with clients using discretion and judgement to develop and instruct individually tailored client programs. They practise in settings such as fitness facilities, gyms, leisure and community centres, client workplaces and homes and outdoor locations, depending on their role.

The skills in this unit must be applied in accordance with Commonwealth and State or Territory legislation, Australian standards and industry codes of practice.

No occupational licensing, certification or specific legislative requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

Pre-requisite Unit


Competency Field


Unit Sector


Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element.

1. Identify client needs.

1.1. Review outcomes of pre-exercise screening and fitness assessment and identify relevant information for exercise program design.

1.2. Identify implications of medical guidance for exercise programming and duty of care to follow.

1.3. Consult with client and confirm their goals, exercise preferences and identified barriers.

1.4. Explain and promote the links between exercise and healthy ageing.

1.5. Build client trust and rapport using client-centred communication showing sensitivity and empathy during interactions.

1.6. Develop and document client profile to assist with programming and ongoing evaluation.

2. Develop personalised exercise programs for older clients.

2.1. Identify program considerations that support safe and sustainable exercise participation for older clients.

2.2. Review client characteristics, exercise preferences, goals, current abilities and medical advice to determine types of exercises and equipment.

2.3. Determine appropriate training volume and frequency of sessions required to achieve client goals.

2.4. Design a systematically structured program that incorporates the effective use of exercise science principles.

2.5. Design overall program consistent with client’s capabilities and goals.

2.6. Document exercise program according to organisational format.

3. Plan individual sessions.

3.1. Determine objectives of individual sessions within overall exercise program.

3.2. Select exercises and equipment suitable for older clients that target client’s goals.

3.3. Plan sessions that incorporate volume and intensity and load of exercises appropriate to client’s age and existing fitness capabilities.

3.4. Plan for exercise phases and volume within client’s preferred session duration.

3.5. Develop sequenced and varied sessions to enhance client motivation and program adherence.

3.6. Incorporate injury and fall prevention strategies that respond to exercise and day-to-day risks for older clients.

3.7. Document session plans according to organisational format.

4. Instruct exercise sessions for older clients.

4.1. Use and combine verbal, visual and tactile instructional methods according to nature of information and client needs.

4.2. Observe client technique for safety and effectiveness and provide corrective instruction based on observations.

4.3. Provide succinct explanations about the relationship between exercises, client goals and improved health outcomes.

4.4. Monitor client performance against objectives using measures suited to the type of exercise.

4.5. Identify signs of fatigue and exercise intolerance and make required session modifications.

5. Encourage and support clients during sessions.

5.1. Encourage and respond to client questions about individual exercises and overall program.

5.2. Use communication techniques that provide positive reinforcement and motivation to client.

5.3. Highlight client’s key strengths during instruction and provide information about progression of fitness capabilities.

5.4. Provide feedback to medical and allied health professionals on client response to exercise sessions and seek required further guidance.

6. Evaluate program effectiveness.

6.1. Monitor client progression towards goals through ongoing observation and measurements and compare with expectations in program plan.

6.2. Request ongoing feedback from client to identify program likes and dislikes and their views on goal achievement.

6.3. Modify and update program and future sessions according to feedback and evaluation.

6.4. Update client records with details of evaluation and modifications.

Foundation Skills

Foundation skills essential to performance in this unit, but not explicit in the performance criteria are listed here, along with a brief context statement.



Reading skills to:

  • interpret sometimes unfamiliar information of varying complexity in client pre-exercise screening and medical guidance records, including health and fitness terminology and abbreviations.

Writing skills to:

  • produce detailed program and session plans that use fitness terminology and abbreviations for instructional use
  • use fundamental sentence structure to complete forms, reports, basic evaluation records and client records that require factual and subjective information.

Oral communication skills to:

  • ask open and closed probe questions and actively listen to elicit information from clients and to determine client understanding of information provided
  • provide information about healthy ageing to clients using plain language and terms easily understood.

Numeracy skills to:

  • complete calculations of varying complexity for program and session plans involving times, frequency, intervals, volume, speeds and loads.

Initiative and enterprise skills to:

  • critically evaluate:
  • all client requirements for appropriate program design
  • successes and failures of program to initiate improvements.

Unit Mapping Information

Supersedes and is not equivalent to SISFFIT014 Instruct exercise to older clients.


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=1ca50016-24d2-4161-a044-d3faa200268b


Assessment requirements

Modification History

Supersedes and is not equivalent to SISFFIT014 Instruct exercise to older clients.

Performance Evidence

Evidence of the ability to complete tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit in the context of the job role, and:

  • develop and document one personalised exercise program for three different clients aged 55 years or over including:
  • a female client
  • a male client
  • a client for whom medical advice has been received
  • for each of the above three clients:
  • develop and document two personalised session plans, each with a minimum duration of 30 minutes
  • incorporate exercises and injury prevention strategies suited to older clients
  • incorporate strength and balance exercises that can help prevent falls
  • instruct two of the above sessions for two of the clients (four sessions in total), according to session plans, each with a minimum duration of 30 minutes
  • consistently use client-centred communication and instructional techniques that are suited to older clients
  • according to actual client interactions or case studies:
  • follow protocols for written reports to medical or allied health professionals for one client for whom guidance has been received, and communicate about:
  • client’s current fitness capabilities and goals
  • client response to exercise sessions
  • questions, concerns and further guidance sought
  • evaluate the effectiveness of one client program, modify program and session content and document details of the evaluation and changes made.

Knowledge Evidence

Demonstrated knowledge required to complete the tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit:

  • boundaries and responsibilities of fitness instructors in providing personalised exercise prescription for older clients and relationship to duty of care
  • format and inclusions of client progress reports to medical and allied health professionals
  • specific information provided by pre-exercise screening and fitness assessment processes relevant to developing exercise programs for older clients
  • current philosophies of service delivery for older people:
  • concept of healthy ageing
  • empowerment
  • re-ablement
  • rights-based approaches
  • client-centred practice
  • contents of the key overarching recommendations contained in established national physical activity guidelines for older people
  • barriers to exercise for older people:
  • sensory decline, specifically hearing and vision loss
  • discomfort and pain
  • fear of injury and falls
  • fixed income
  • cognitive decline
  • isolation and depression
  • common health changes related to ageing:
  • reduced:
  • bone density and risk of osteoporosis
  • coordination and balance
  • muscle mass, strength and physical endurance
  • joint flexibility and mobility
  • increased risk of:
  • falls and injury
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • cancer
  • osteoarthritis
  • diabetes mellitus
  • mental health issues including depression and anxiety
  • exercises suited to older clients that target improvements in the above age related health changes, the particular importance of strength and balance exercises, and types of equipment that can be used
  • aspects of exercise science principles relevant to the design of programs and sessions for older clients
  • injury risks and issues for older clients during exercise and how to prevent and address these in exercise instruction:
  • falls
  • strains
  • sore joints
  • overexertion
  • appropriateness of different demonstration and instruction techniques for effective instruction of older clients
  • how older clients with sensory, cognitive and physical decline can be supported during instruction
  • communication considerations for older clients:
  • allowing time for interactions
  • avoiding fitness terminology
  • recognising and adapting to visual and hearing impairments
  • being positive and focussing on strengths
  • respecting the older person’s rights
  • checking own understanding and the understanding of the older person
  • how to recognise and respond to indicators of over exertion and discomfort that can present in older clients, and when exercise should be modified or stopped:
  • chest pain at rest and during activity
  • severe breathlessness, feeling faint, dizziness and loss of balance
  • unusual fatigue and shortness of breath
  • significant muscle, bone and joint pain beyond what is normally expected during exercise
  • methods used to evaluate effectiveness of personalised exercise programs:
  • ongoing informal discussions with client and targeted questions to elicit opinion about achievement of goals
  • reports from older clients about improvements to health and functional movement
  • ongoing observation and measurement of client performance and improvements
  • staged formal assessments and comparison measurement.

Assessment Conditions

Skills can be demonstrated in:

  • the workplace, or
  • a simulated workplace set up for the purpose of skills assessment.

The following resources must be available to replicate industry conditions of operation:

  • first aid equipment
  • communication equipment for emergency response.

Assessment must ensure the use of:

  • interaction with older clients; these can be:
  • older clients in an industry workplace, or
  • older people who participate in simulated activities used for the purpose of skills assessment
  • equipment required for sessions
  • client records which include documentation of:
  • completed industry standard pre-exercise screenings
  • completed fitness assessments
  • samples of guidance information provided by medical or allied health professionals
  • template progress reports to medical or allied health professionals
  • template exercise program and session plans
  • client records and progress charts.

Assessors must:

  • satisfy the Standards for Registered Training Organisations requirements for assessors, and
  • hold a Certificate IV in Fitness, and have a collective period of at least two years’ experience working in fitness instruction, where they have applied the skills and knowledge covered in this unit of competency; the two years’ experience can incorporate full and part time experience, or
  • be a registered or accredited practising health or exercise professional with a degree and experience relevant to this unit of competency.


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=1ca50016-24d2-4161-a044-d3faa200268b