Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Top 10 Corporate Fitness Center Management RFP Questions

handshaking partners resized 600In our more than 20 years of managing clients' fitness centers, we’ve filled out our fair share of requests for proposals (RFPs). We’ve seen hundreds of questions, and we’ve written hundreds of pages. (It’s a lot of tree-killing, we know.)

I’ll be honest: we’d rather just get to know a client, talk about if and how we can meet their needs and exceed their expectations, and then build a business partnership from there. The whole RFP thing is, well, impersonal and frankly exhausting. That’s ironic considering this business is about relationships; helping people improve their health is about as personal as it gets.

Of course, I understand a company’s need to benchmark all candidates and set up some kind of apples-to-apples comparison among vendors. But there has to be a better way to do that “do we want to do business together?” dance.

Despite my griping, RFPs are indeed here to stay, and we’re not always on the back side of an RFP. Occasionally we get asked to outline some relevant RFP questions prior to the issuing of the request. After all the question-and-answer we’ve worked through, I thought I’d put these out there as our top 10 favorite questions to answer. Some of the questions make it on our top 10 because we feel confident with our answers. Other questions made it onto the list because it helped us improve our service to current clients. A few, and maybe you can spot them, made it to the list because of how downright ridiculous they are.

In no apparent order, here are NIFS's top 10 favorite RFP questions:

  1. Describe your candidate interview process. Describe the credentials of your fitness staff.
  2. Explain your philosophy on collaborating with other wellness vendors. Provide examples of when you have worked with other vendors to create well-rounded programs for your clients.
  3. What steps do you take to provide a safe fitness center for the members?
  4. How do you measure member satisfaction? Provide an example of a tool you use to measure satisfaction.
  5. Do you have any experience implementing fitness trails? Would you be able to support this initiative in our employee park?
  6. Please provide a summary of what you expect us (the client) to do to make the onsite fitness center successful.
  7. Explain your experience at designing and equipping corporate fitness centers for other clients.
  8. What services are provided to fitness center members free of charge? What services does your staff provide that are fee-based?
  9. Do you have any experience with bicycle loan programs? We would like to consider having bicycles available for checkout for employees to use for exercise or as transportation from one building to another. Describe how you can support this initiative.
  10. What is your philosophy on leasing versus purchasing equipment?

 Feel free to use these questions in your next RFP, or call me to discuss other options. If you have a ridiculous question to add to this list, please leave your comment below. We’re all ears!

If you’d like NIFS to fill out an RFP for fitness center management for your business, contact Bethany Garrity at [email protected] or 317-274-3432 x208. We’ll do it, but we’d rather spend time getting to know you, discussing your needs, and deciding whether the business partnership is mutually beneficial.

Topics: corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment Fitness Center RFP request for proposal

Corporate Wellness Works Better When Leaders Walk the Talk

corporate leaderA leader is someone who can guide, direct, or show the way. Wouldn’t you hope the leaders in your life have had experience or are educated on whatever matter they are pressing?

Take a personal trainer, for instance. You probably want your personal trainer to have a degree in the field of exercise and possibly some certifications to go along with it. And once they have those degrees and certifications, you would hope they practice what they preach and actually exercise on a consistent basis.

What about your boss, manager, or supervisor? Perhaps they encourage exercise in the workplace to increase productivity and to boost energy around the office. As your supervisor, they are in turn your leader (at least in the office). As a leader, you look to them for counsel and guidance. If your supervisor eats fast food for lunch every day and takes numerous smoke breaks, and the only walking he gets is to the vending machine, chances are you’re not going to listen to him.

The point is that leadership has to start at the top. A leader is put in that position to inspire, to rally, and to command your allegiance. If a person cannot do this, he or she should not be in that position. However (and there’s always a however), you are also an individual. Even if your supervisor works out every day in the corporate fitness center, that will not help you prevent heart disease. It will not help you shed those unwanted pounds. And if your supervisor quits smoking, your lungs will not get stronger. It is up to you to make positive changes in your life.

In a sense, we are all leaders. We each have our own path and we each blaze our own trail. It is up to each and every one of us to lead by example. I leave you with a quote from Marianne Williamson (from Return to Love). I hope it speaks to you and you become the leader you strive to be.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness motivation employee wellness

NIFS Nutrition and Fitness for the Holidays

thanksgiving dinner resized 600The holidays are around the corner―time flies! I want to pass along my top five tips to get through those holiday dinners without destroying all the hard work you have put into this thing we call fitness, and still enjoy those once-a-year delights that make life worth living.
I have heard a pretty shocking statistic that Americans will consume an average of 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, and over 200 grams of fat (and not the good fat, either). I don’t think I have to tell you how long it would take to recover from and burn that many calories. So use these five tips to help you stay on track.

1. Do not skip meals before the “big one.” Many people think starving themselves before the big meal will help in keeping down the caloric intake for the day. WRONG! Remember that you have to keep that furnace burning all day, and if you come into the big meal starving, you will overeat. I guarantee it. 
2. Make one run. At the “big one,” have little servings of everything so you can enjoy all the great tastes that come with the holiday, but in moderation. People tend to love one item, eat a lot of it, then go back for the things they didn’t have room for on the first run.
3. Work out! Find 30 minutes that day, and the day after, to get in a workout. Do it fast and furious so you can get back to the family but still keep the furnace hot and continually burning.
4. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a double-edged sword in that it tends to lower inhibitions (taking your eyes off your goals) and increase the production and release of a hormone that absorbs fat. If someone has a drink in their hand, they more than likely have their other hand stuffing their face.
5. Keep your goals in the forefront. Why have you come to see me in the first place? Why have you gone through these weeks of physical torture? It’s to accomplish those goals you have defined for yourself and to become the individual you ultimately want to be. You have to remind yourself when you are facing down a loaded turkey with all the fixings of all the sweat and tears you have put into this thing.

You should totally enjoy everything about the holidays, because that is why you work so hard. But learning to enjoy and not destroy is key. Trust me, there is a balance, and your goal is to fill your toolbox to help work toward that balance. Follow this link to test your knowledge of holiday foods!

Topics: exercise exercise at home calories

NIFS Nutrition News: Fabulous Fall Recipes for Employee Health

fall harvestThis is definitely my favorite time of year: football, cooler weather, and the return of all things apples and pumpkin! Not only are they chock-full of healthy goodness, but they are also delicious!

Health Benefits of Apples

The old quote “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” could not be more correct. Apples are loaded with fiber (a typical tennis-ball-sized piece has 4 filling grams of fiber), which helps to keep you satisfied. Apples are also high in immune-boosting Vitamin C.

One recent study found that eating apples was linked to a lower incidence of death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Another surprising benefit of apples is that they may boost your endurance during a workout. The antioxidant quercetin makes oxygen more available in the lungs, and one study showed individuals who had this antioxidant prior to a workout were able to cycle longer.

Health Benefits of Pumpkins

Pumpkins have just as much to brag about as apples. Pumpkin is loaded with Vitamin A, which is essential for boosting your immune system, vision health, and bone health. You also get a significant amount of potassium from pumpkin. This helps keep your fluid and mineral balance regulated, which helps with heart function. That bright orange color from pumpkin means it is high in the antioxidant beta carotene. This means it is heart protective and can help lower your risk for heart disease. Finally, just like apples, pumpkin is loaded with fiber. Each 1 cup of pureed pumpkin has 7 grams—1/3 of your daily needs!

I like to use pureed, canned pumpkin as a fat replacer in cake mixes, brownies, and muffin mixes. Just substitute the same amount of pumpkin for the amount of oil called for in recipes and enjoy a lower-fat and nutritious treat!

Recipes for Employee Health

Try these delicious recipes for making the most of fall apples and pumpkin.

Baked Cinnamon Apples

Ingredients:

4 large baking apples, such as Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash apples. Remove cores to 1/2 inch from the bottom of the apples. Make the holes about 3/4 to 1 inch wide.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and pecans.
  3. Place apples in an 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking dish. Stuff each apple with this mixture. Top each with a dot of butter (1/4 Tbsp).
  4. Add boiling water to the baking pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until tender but not mushy. Remove from the oven and enjoy! Serves 4.

Calories: 230; Fat: 8 grams; Fiber: 6 grams

Recipe adapted from http://www.simplyrecipes.com

Pumpkin Mousse

Ingredients:

3 cups cold, fat-free milk
2 pkg. (1.5 oz.) vanilla flavor fat-free, sugar-free instant pudding
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup thawed fat-free whipped topping

Directions:

  1. Beat milk and pudding mix in medium bowl and whisk for 2 min.
  2. Blend in pumpkin and spice.
  3. Stir in whipped topping.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Makes 12, 1/2-cup servings.

Calories: 60; Total Protein: 3 grams; Total Fat: 1 gram

Recipe adapted from http://www.kraftfoods.com.

Enjoy these fabulous fall super foods while they are plentiful! For more information, please contact me at [email protected]

Topics: nutrition antioxidants employee wellness immunity fiber

NIFS Fitness Center: Green Nutrition Tips from Michael Pollan

describe the imageSo let’s talk nutrition. One of my favorite nutrition authors is Michael Pollan. His message truly comes from an environmental and sustainability platform, but it just so happens that when you are “green” you are also “lean.”
I know when choosing the food you eat you are bombarded by so many messages―from your health professional, the media, your family, and friends. I urge you to not only read the calorie content, but to know where your food is coming from. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” is one of Pollan’s most recognizable quotes and these are the strongest seven words when it comes to your nutrition. I prefer to change one of the seven words so that the quote reads, “Eat often, not too much, mostly plants.” This is how you can ignite the metabolic engine and keep it hot all day.
I would like to share an excerpt from one of my favorite Pollan books, Food Rules. This one should be on everybody’s bookshelf. In this book he covers 64 simple food rules that will not only keep you lean and healthy, but also provide direction on how our society should be eating. Here are six of his 64 rules:
#11: Avoid foods you see advertised on television.
#19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
#36: Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
#47: Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
#58: Do all your eating at a table.

So after reading these six rules, I am sure you are reflecting upon your diet (well, I hope you are). Click this link and score your diet on nutrition, the environment, and animal welfare.

Topics: Food for Thought Go Green NIFS

NIFS Nutrition News: Rice and Arsenic

rice When I saw the Consumer Reports article a few weeks ago about them finding high levels of arsenic in rice, my first thought was, “surely they were wrong!” However, after researching it a little further, all of the evidence points to the sad truth that one of our cheapest, quickest, and most popular grains to eat and prepare may be dangerous.

I found this interesting article from the Chicago Tribune that gives tips on how to reduce the arsenic levels in rice. The following excerpt shows what the article suggests you do:

Rinse your rice thoroughly. The FDA cites several studies indicating that "thoroughly rinsing rice until the water is clear (four to six changes of water) reduced the total arsenic content by up to approximately 25-30 percent."

Check your municipal water report. "Make sure your local water supply does not have high levels of arsenic," says John Duxbury of Cornell University, who studies arsenic and rice. "If you do have high levels, washing can make it worse. But if you are under 10 parts per billion, it should help."

Cook and drain your rice sort of like pasta. "We say to use about 6 parts water to 1 part rice," says Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. "And then drain off the water after it's done." The FDA says that studies show rinsing and cooking in excess water can reduce total arsenic levels by 50 to 60 percent. "However, it should be noted that for enriched rice, rinsing will also likely reduce the amount of added nutrients," the agency said.

Choose aromatic rices. For those who are already fans of Indian basmati or Thai jasmine rices, the news is not so bad. According to the hundreds of recently released test results, aromatic rice varieties show the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic. Imported basmati and jasmine rices showed about half to one-eighth the level of arsenic as regular rices grown in the Southern U.S.

Consider limiting brown rice consumption. From a nutritional and fiber standpoint, brown rice is tops, but because its bran remains intact it can also hold on to higher levels of arsenic, according to test results. Are the nutritional benefits worth the arsenic load? Hard to say at this point. But some test results indicate that brown rice from California and India have [sic] much lower levels of arsenic than brown rice from Southern U.S. states. For now, they may be the best choice.

Choose California. Of the domestic rices tested by Consumer Reports, California rices had lower levels of arsenic than those in other states. FDA rice results also indicated that some U.S. rice had lower levels of arsenic, but the data it released to the public did not specify states of origin.

Be careful when feeding babies rice cereal and rice milk. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office conducted tests of rice cereals for babies that she announced all contained inorganic arsenic. Gerber recently released a statement announcing it now sources its baby cereal rice only from California. Still Consumer Reports advises that children do not drink rice milk and that infant rice cereal (1/4 cup) be served no more than once a day.

Hopefully by following some of these tips and suggestions, we can all feel more confident in consuming this tasty whole grain. More research is currently being done on this topic, so until the conclusion is released, try to rotate other whole grains such as quinoa, barley, couscous, and whole-wheat pasta into your diet and choose rice less often.

 

Topics: employee health nutrition cancer cereal disease prevention

Avoiding Chemicals and Germs for Workplace Wellness

hand sanitizerCould your office be to blame for making you sick? This article refers to a recent study that found certain types of furniture, carpet and paint can contain harmful chemicals called PFCs, or polyfluorinated compounds. These chemicals are so widespread that 95 percent of Americans have been found to carry at least some level in their blood. The workplace, however, was the environment found to have the highest amount of PFCs in the air.

Interestingly enough, the study found that employees working in the buildings with the newest carpet, paint, and furniture showed more exposure to PFCs than employees working in buildings with older office surroundings. If you find yourself in the position of purchasing new carpet, paint, or furniture for your workspace, it could be worth asking the manufacturer whether there are any known substances in the materials that could be harmful in high level of exposure.

Chemical exposure isn't the only risk of working in an office environment. Offices are also breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria. Here are some things you can do to avoid catching germs in the workplace:

  • Keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer at your desk and use it periodically throughout the day.
  • If you use a shared computer or phone, wipe down items like the computer mouse and phone receiver regularly with an antibacterial wipe.
  • In restrooms, use automatic flush, sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers where available. The less contact your skin has with these items, the better.
  • In the office kitchenette, appoint one person per week to clean surfaces such as countertops, sink faucets, and handles on the refrigerator, microwave and coffeepot. General housekeeping may not be cleaning these items.
  • In your corporate fitness center, clean all machines and other equipment before and after use.
  • Exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet to boost your immune system no matter where you go!

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health healthy workforce Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness common cold allergies disease prevention healthy habits

Employee Wellness: The Science Behind Produce Stickers

man shopping in produce resized 600Reading food labels just became a little bit trickier! If you've gotten into the habit of studying the labels of your favorite foods for nutrition information, here's something else to include: produce stickers. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts generally bear stickers with special codes that tell the checkout person how much the food costs. But these labels also provide important information about where the produce came from. Here's what to look for:

  • Four-digit code number: These types of codes, which usually start with a 3 or a 4, mean that the food was conventionally grown and may have been exposed to different chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with an 8: A code like this tells you that the item has been genetically modified, which means technology has altered its genes. This is done for a variety of purposes, such as boosting immunity to insects, producing a bigger crop, making items appear bigger or tastier, etc. The safety of this practice is debated.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with a 9: An item bearing this type of code is organic. If you're looking for your safest bet in terms of avoiding chemicals, this is it.

Wondering when you should splurge for organic? When it comes to peaches, peppers, celery, berries, leafy greens, apples, cherries, and grapes, organic is best. However, foods such as sweet corn, avocados, onions, pineapples, watermelon, mangoes, asparagus, cantaloupe, and kiwi tend to be cleaner even when conventionally grown.

 

Next time you’re in the grocery store, put your knowledge to the test to see what type of produce offerings it provides!

Topics: employee health nutrition Food for Thought Go Green employee wellness