Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Elliptical Routine

free workout fridayAre you one of those people that only use the elliptical machine when told to lie off of exercise due to a lower body injury? Even though most studies have found that the treadmill may burn a few more calories, it’s still important to mix up your workouts. If you are a runner I’m sure you have heard about the importance of cross training your muscles to prevent injuries. The elliptical is a good way to cross train and can be just as challenging!

The elliptical mocks a running motion but does not have a high impact on the joints and spine. Most ellipticals are now made with a movable upper body too, so you get the upper and lower body moving together. I prefer the ones with the adjustable incline too, but not all come with that option. Moving forward and backward helps to target different muscles, and prevent boredom.

Have fun with the elliptical and try this workout! I have you playing around with it enough that time should fly by!!

Forward on the elliptical

  • 2 minutes – resistance level 4
  • 3 minutes – level 5 (if ramp can be adjusted, take it all the way down – similar to cross country skiing)
  • 3 minutes – level 8
  • 2 minutes – level 5 (if possible adjust the incline all the way up – similar to climbing stairs)
  • 3 minutes – level 10
  • 2 minutes – level 12

Backward on the elliptical

  • 3 minutes – level 8 (if possible adjust the incline at the half way mark)
  • 3 minutes – level 10 (if possible adjust the incline all the way down)
  • 2 minutes – level 12
  • 5 minutes – level 6 (if possible raise the incline all the way up)
  • 2 minutes – level 10

 

 

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health exercise nifs fitness management Free Workout Friday elliptical training

Senior Fitness: Building a Better Fitness Center

Senior living communities are spending a lot of time and resources today responding to the consumer's demand for opportunities to live well.  We see those responses translated into a variety of services and amenities that speak to wellness, and specifically exercise opportunities and fitness centers are one of the most common wellness elements in senior living.  Unfortunately, a lot of communities are still operating with exercise areas that are outdated and less than friendly for residents.  But money is tight, and allocating capital for improvements to existing exercise spaces or building brand new fitness centers is not a decision to be made lightly.  If you commit to investing in that type of capital improvement, you need to do it right. 

Questions about space allocation, design, equipment selection, programming, and liability can be overwhelming.

As you might expect, in my wellness consulting work at retirement communities, I get asked a lot of questions about new construction and rehabbing existing spaces.  I've answered some of the most common questions in a blog on the top 5 list of things to avoid when building a fitness center for senior living.

In a little bit deeper dive on key questions related to space design, size, and equipment, we hosted a "Build a Better Fitness Center" webinar, as part of our Build Vitality series.  The recording is below.  When you watch the 30 minute webinar, you find out more about the following:  

  • how to design/redesign a fitness area,
  • how to make sound exercise equipment selections for your residents,
  • what practices and policies need to be in place to effectively manage your liability, and
  • how to program the fitness areas for optimal engagement.

View the full Build a Better Fitness Center webinar using the button below.  If you want to cut to the chase and access all four of our Build Vitality webinars, click here.

Watch the Build a Better  Fitness Center Webinar

Topics: active aging senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center Fitness Center fitness center for seniors

Proven Strategies for Building a World-Class Senior Wellness Program

senior wellnessPart 1: Who Should Be Contributing to Resident Wellness?

There are many interpretations of what a community “wellness program” should be, and to be fair, many interpretations are quite valid. We’re not saying one size fits all; quite the contrary. What we are saying is that there are multiple VALID interpretations of resident wellness and making your community aware of the potential variety (pulling away from “this is what we’ve always done”) will be beneficial for all. Tap into the unique skill sets of your community personnel to cultivate a harmonious and healthy lifestyle for your residents.

For example, resident health services and therapy departments may perceive clinical programs such as health metrics screenings or gait analysis as wellness programming. Your activities personnel may perceive socialization and educational seminars as a wellness program, whereas your community fitness personnel perceive prevention programming such as balance training and healthy eating as wellness. The answer to which of these options is truly a wellness program is “all of the above”—if they are executed effectively with a collaborative approach to promote resident well-being.

Oftentimes there are power grabs at play among community personnel on who is offering wellness or who should be involved in certain types of programming. We’ve written about silos and power grabs before. A well-rounded wellness program cannot truly exist until these power grabs are set aside and everyone learns to contribute to the greater good of resident care and well-being as a team. After all, how long will a resident truly be successful upon discharge from therapy services if they don’t have the support of fitness programming to continue their progress? Or what good is an educational lecture on the importance of managing your blood pressure as coordinated by your activities personnel if health screenings and clinical support are not available?

The needs and expectations of today’s residents are too dynamic and unique to have a “wellness program” facilitated through the vision of one department or one individual. To best serve the needs of residents, all departments should be contributing their own skill sets under a central mission for improving resident well-being.

In doing so, your community will be able touch on many different dimensions of wellness from one department to the next without placing the entire programming burden on one or two individuals. In turn, the scope of possibilities in programming is not as limited and a current of wellness-based lifestyle programs and options will flow from one department to the next. If you were to remove one of these departments, it would likely create a gap in your program. This collaboration can demonstrate to existing and prospective residents that individual agendas and power grabs are not the priority at your community, but improved resident well-being through collaboration is!

You won’t want to miss part 2 of this blog, in which we look into eight specific examples of where your key community players can contribute to well-rounded wellness programming.

Topics: NIFS senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center wellness brand for senior living

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Cardio Circuit

free workout fridayCardiovascular exercise…..people either love it or hate it! I’m sure by now you’ve heard that cardio alone is not the answer to reaching your fitness goals. It is important to add a strength and flexibility component too. Although, cardio and physical activity in general have many health benefits, but they have even more when you “mix it up”!

Changing up your activities can help to get you over that plateau, improve your mood, prevent boredom, fight against high blood pressure and cholesterol, and increase your energy levels. You don’t always need to be on a cardio machine for an extended period of time to get a good cardio workout.

Try some of these cardio exercises in short intervals to get a great 30 minute workout, rest for about 10 seconds in between if need be. Check out the demonstration video links for each set and get to your corporate wellness center to try them out.

Set 1:

  • Squat Jacks – 30 seconds
  • Lateral Squat Hops – 30 seconds
  • Plank Hop Overs – 30 seconds
  • Traveling Burpies – 1 minute
  •  Rest – 1 minute

Set 2:

  • Hop Throughs – 30 seconds
  • Skater Lunges – 1 minute
  • Bottom Down Hops – 30 seconds
  • Rest – 1 minute

Set 3:

  • Twist Box Jumps – 30 seconds each side
  • Gliding Discs Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds
  • Gliding Discs Floor Jacks – 30 seconds
  • Repeat (work your way up to repeating 2 – 3 times for added intensity)

*Don’t have access to gliding discs? Use paper plates or towels.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health exercise nifs fitness management Free Workout Friday fitness

Putting Ourselves in Our Corporate Wellness Clients’ Shoes

personal trainerHave you heard this interesting story  regarding personal trainer Drew Manning?  Manning was what his wife called a “judgmental trainer,” and he admits that he would look at his overweight, struggling clients and think that they must choose to be lazy. Surely if they cared about their health enough, they would just make changes instead of blaming their genetics or other factors, Manning thought.

Trainer Finds Drastic Way to Learn Empathy

So, to put himself in his clients’ shoes, he took it upon himself to gain 70 pounds by foregoing his workouts and eating a new diet of junk food. What he found out is that beyond the physical effects of weight gain, he was a different person mentally and emotionally as well. He became self-conscious, insecure, and lethargic. Next, he quickly returned to his former fit self, dropping the 70 pounds and regaining the muscular build. But he now has a heightened sense of empathy for his clients.

As corporate wellness professionals, are we finding empathy with our clients? It’s true that making healthy choices is exactly that—a choice that only an individual can make. But, are we understanding of the many factors at play in our clients’ lives and aware of possible feelings of guilt or embarrassment when they carry extra weight or lack the strength to perform certain exercises?

Be Mindful of Clients’ Emotional Factors

I would never suggest that we pull a risky stunt of gaining and losing large amounts of weight like Manning did. However, we can make it our job to use patience, reflective listening, and a nonjudgmental attitude to be more understanding of how our clients are feeling mentally, not just physically.

Topics: corporate wellness motivation corporate fitness centers obesity personal trainers guilt

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Sprint Workout

free workout fridayI woke up one morning and my obliques were really sore and tender to the touch. I couldn’t figure it out because I hadn’t taught or taken a core class the day before at my corporate wellness site. Then it hit me that the only thing different I had done was sprints. I hadn’t done sprints since track practice, which was a long time ago, but I had no idea how much I use my core! I loved the feeling of my obliques being that sore, so I decided to start incorporating more sprints into my workouts.

Don’t consider yourself a sprinter? That’s ok, I’m not either! Athletes may laugh at my speed but for me it’s a “sprint”. I push myself to run as fast as I can for short periods of time. First, let’s talk about form. Use your arms and core to help pick up the speed. Control your arms and keep them tucked close to your body, elbows at 90 degree angles. Keep your toes straight and lift your knees. Be sure to keep your head/eyes up and slightly lean your upper body forward. The faster you pump your arms, the faster your legs will go! Add some variety to your life and try this sprint workout. 

  • Warm up with a slow jog for 3-5 minutes
  • Pick it up for a faster run (75%) for 1 minute
  • Sprint (100%) for 45 seconds
  • Jog (60%) for 2 minutes
  • Sprint (100%) for 1 minute
  • Go back & forth with the jog for 2 minutes and sprint for 45 seconds or 1 minute at a time for 20-30 minutes.
  • You can also take breaks to add some pushups or planks in for 1 minute intervals.

This can be done anywhere….treadmill, in your neighborhood, on an actual track, or anywhere else that you have an open space and is a safe environment.

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health exercise exercise at home Free Workout Friday

3 Keys to Maintaining your Fitness Motivation

H  Motivation 101

If you like this article, talk to us about how to order it and other monthly

Physical Activity and Exercise Help Seniors Stay Independent

senior exercisePhysical activity and exercise are two different terms that have similar concepts. Physical activity such as gardening, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, shopping, and taking the stairs gets your body moving. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured, and repetitive, such as strength training, yoga, or aerobics class. Both physical activity and exercise are great for seniors to keep up the daily activities they enjoy.

Is Your Physical Activity Decreasing?

It is common that the amount of physical activity we perform declines as we age. For instance, how many times have you heard, seen, or even said the following:

  • “I just can’t shop at the mall like I used to. It just seems so big!”
  • “Let’s take the elevator; the stairs are too strenuous for me now.”
  • “I hired the neighbor to mow my lawn once a week; it is just too difficult for me anymore.”
  • “My daughter comes over to help me with my housecleaning once a week; it has just gotten too difficult for me to do everything.”
  • “I gave up gardening; it just got to be too much.”

These phrases are all examples of common physical activity that may decrease in volume with age. Does any of these phrases sound familiar to you or maybe a family member or friend? If so, and you do not feel that you are getting enough physical activity in your life; it is beneficial, if not critical, for you to start an exercise program.

It’s Never Too Late to Start an Exercise Program

Good news! Exercise programs can be modified and designed to fit the needs of everyone, no matter the age, ability, or level, and it is never too late to start. So whether or not your physical activity level has decreased, there is always an exercise program out there for you! More good news! Once you start an exercise program, some of those physical activities that were “too much” before may be worked back into your life!

Check out these tips from the American College of Sports Medicine, “Starting a New Exercise Program and Sticking With It.”

Staying physically active and starting an exercise program can improve your balance, help manage and prevent disease, help reduce feelings of depression and improve overall well-being, and improve your ability to do things you want to do!

Do you feel like your amount of physical activity has declined? If so, what have you done to stay active? Maybe it is time to start an exercise program today!

Topics: exercise active aging disease prevention balance senior fitness physical activity

Corporate Fitness: Free Workout Friday - Training Ropes

free workout fridayYou walk into your weekly boot camp class, see this big rope on the floor and start to panic. You might be thinking what on earth are we going to do with this big rope that almost weighs more than I do? Originally designed for contact sports like football, training ropes are becoming more popular and visible in fitness facilities. Ropes aren’t just for the fit & strong. I think it’s an excellent way to add some variety and increase muscle endurance.

Rope workouts can be done anywhere. You can even go to a hardware store and purchase a large sturdy rope to put around a tree in your back yard, or something strong enough to handle the waves from the rope.

If you concentrate on contracting your abdominals, you can get a “hard core” workout while getting your heart rate up as well. Perform 2-3 sets of 30 second intervals, on for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds. Be sure to use your entire body (lower, upper, & core) during all exercises.  Check out our video for demonstrations of the following exercises:

  • Double Arm Slam
  • Alternating Arm Slam
  • Power Slam
  • Oblique Twist (change grip)
  • Arm Circles (both directions)
  • Rope Jacks
  • Plank Slams (using both arms)

You could even use the rope for line jumps to finish off your workout!

“Must-Do” Responsibilities for Retirement Community Fitness Managers

senior fitnessIf you have residents who want to use the fitness center at your community but aren’t sure how to get started safely, you may have given some thought to adding a fitness center manager who can provide that individual attention for your residents. Perhaps you’re unsure about where to start looking for your fitness center manager and what types of things they should be doing while they’re on the job. Read on to learn about four key job responsibilities we think your fitness center manager should be executing often and well.

Providing Value-Add Services to the Members

The whole idea of providing consistent staffing in the fitness center is to get more residents to use the amenity along with other services to live well, right? Consider these types of opportunities to communicate value to your residents:

  • Equipment orientation: There’s a good chance you have residents who have never used a treadmill, a NuStep, or other fitness equipment before. They need at least a basic overview of how each piece works to grow confidence in using the equipment. In truth, NIFS views the orientation as a required piece to “join” the fitness center—it's one of several elements in our risk-management protocol. To read more on how to manage you community’s liability related to your fitness center, download our whitepaper: Managing Your CCRC Fitness Center Liability.
  • Senior fitness assessment: This testing tool is an important opportunity to get some baseline data on the level of fitness for a resident. Starting with an assessment before moving into writing an exercise prescription (described below) is a good way to truly customize the exercise program and assess the resident’s progress over time. This assessment data can also offer compelling messages for your marketing and sales staff on how effective your community’s exercise program is for residents.
  • Exercise prescription: After a resident has gone through the equipment orientation and (ideally) a senior fitness assessment, they can move into an exercise prescription appointment with the manager. In this service, the manager works with the resident to create an exercise plan that is tailored to meet the resident’s needs and goals. The manager then walks the resident through the program on a few different visits to increase the resident’s understanding and confidence about having success with the exercise program.

Protecting the Residents’ Safety and Managing the Community’s Liability

Your fitness manager can take several steps to advocate for resident safety while also decreasing your liability. Implementing a membership process for your fitness center is one of those steps. Consider the following elements.

  • Waiver/release of liability: A handful of states do not recognize waivers/releases of liability, and the language in them is really critical where they are recognized for protecting your community. You should work carefully with your counsel to draft an appropriate release for your circumstances.
  • Health history questionnaire: The fitness manager can initiate a dialogue with residents about the impact of an exercise program on their wellbeing when he or she has a basic health history from residents. In truth, it’s challenging (at best) and possibly negligent for a fitness manager to prescribe any type of specific exercises to a participant, or assess a resident’s fitness level, without the health history information.
  • Medical release: For the active aging population, involving an individual’s medical provider (physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, etc.) in the process of developing an exercise program is crucial. In almost all cases where an individual has a complicated medical history involving past surgeries, current medications, and so on, a well-trained fitness manager will not have a robust understanding of an individual’s medical history without the support of the clinical community. The medical release notifies the medical liaison that he or she is engaging in exercise and provides an opportunity for the clinician to make specific recommendations about the exercise program for that individual.

Collaborating with Other Department Directors to Cultivate Community Wellness

This seems like a no-brainer, but from our experience working in a variety of retirement community settings, collaboration is anything but seamless. I’ve talked about this in other blogs, so I’ll spare you my soapbox here. Suffice it to say that your overall community wellness programming will be more rich and balanced when you include the expertise of your fitness manager for a creative twist on more traditional offerings.

Evaluating Program Success

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to evaluate what you’re doing in resident wellness. In our two-part blog on gathering wellness data you can actually use, I outline some specifics on how to set up your initiatives for simple but effective evaluation as well as how to evaluate the program when it’s complete. Read those blogs for more information on program evaluation.

The other element of data gathering and evaluation that we often see missing from fitness programs is program attendance. All too often, communities are not capturing resident attendance in group exercise classes or in the fitness center. Your onsite manager should be keeping track of who has joined the fitness program and how often they are using the amenities. This data allows the manager to report to the community personnel about utilization trends. It also informs decisions about what group classes and other services to keep on the schedule and which should be evolved into new opportunities.

If this leaves you with more questions than answers about what your fitness center staff should be doing, contact me to learn what’s on our job descriptions and how we work with our senior living clients.

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Topics: nifs fitness management NIFS senior center solutions senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior fitness