Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

3 Tips for Hiring an Active Aging or Corporate Fitness Professional

young professionalWe’re a staffing organization – we provide well-credentialed and passionate fitness professionals to manage senior living fitness centers and corporate fitness programs for our clients.  To say we know a thing or two about interviewing could be, perhaps, an understatement.  Over the last 20+ years we’ve hired hundreds of staff to fill a variety of fitness-focused positions for a diverse clientele.  We have definitely made some mistakes and we’ve lived to tell about it. 

Hiring is a risky proposition and that’s true for any type of opening you have.  But when you’re talking about the health of your residents or your employees, are you prepared to make a hiring decision for a job about which you don’t understand the credentials or the essential duties?  Think of it this way:  You don’t repair your own brakes on your car – that’s what your mechanic is for.  Why would you tackle hiring for a position about which you know nothing?  In the end, you may want to consider pulling in an organization like ours that does this for a living.

But, if you insist on pressing on to hire your own staff, check out our top three lessons learned on interviewing health-focused staff.

Tip #1:  Do a double check on candidate credentials.

Our business IS fitness, so we’ve seen the credentials that are out there.  But if you’re an executive director trying to staff your senior living community fitness center, or a human resources executive hiring for your employee wellness program, how do you know that the credentials presented by a candidate are worth their salt?  Don’t take this the wrong way, but…you don’t. 

The sad truth about fitness is that personal trainer certifications are a dime a dozen.  You, dear reader, regardless of your educational background, could jump online tonight and within a short window of time, be a “certified personal trainer”.  So be careful about credentials for the candidates you interview because they don’t always carry a lot of weight.  And until the industry initiates registration or licensure, hiring a fitness instructor who carries a certification that isn’t backed up with health-related bachelor’s degree is a very employer-beware circumstance.

In order to win an interview with NIFS for a fitness-focused opening, candidates are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field.  This doesn’t guarantee right fit for the opening, but it’s a good start. 

To that end, there probably dozens of degree program names for an allied health type of career:  Kinesiology, Exercise Science, Health Promotion, Wellness etc.  If you’re unsure about if/how the candidate’s degree fits for your opening, you can ask some pointed questions about the coursework the candidate completed, or direct your questions to the types of tasks she performed at another job. 

Case in point:  We had a candidate with a health promotion degree apply for a fitness center manager opening.  When we dug a little deeper on her background in anatomy and physiology, she responded by saying something like, “You know, the ankle bone is connected to the shin bone, and the shin bone is connected to the knee bone.”  I’m not kidding.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Tip #2:  Require the candidate to demonstrate her skills.

In a field where your candidate will be working with employees or residents to help individuals improve their health, where there is a lot of hands-on work, it will be imperative that they can demonstrate competency in those practical skills. 

You can ask a candidate about her experience teaching group fitness and she may impress you by describing the formats she’s taught, the audiences to whom she’s taught, and the feedback she’s received from her participants.  But until you see her in action, her words are useless.  Trust me, I know enough about group exercise that I could talk a really good game about my style, my music, they ways I modify classes for participants, and the anecdotes participants in my classes have shared with me.  And it would all be just words.  All you have to do is ask me to teach a five minute core class and you would quickly see that teaching group exercise is not on my list of gifts. 

Your interview process should include testing on practical skills required for the job.  When candidates interview for a fitness career with NIFS, we require them to prove their competency throughout the interview by offering the following (and more):

  • Provide us with copies of print materials they’ve created for other employment or in school.
  • Evaluate a health history questionnaire according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) risk stratification.
  • Write and administer an exercise program from a case study.
  • Teach a short group exercise class.
  • Provide a brief wellness presentation.

Case in point:  Each time we offer an interview to a candidate, they receive an email outlining everything they should be expected to do during the interview.  One time, we had a candidate accept the offer for an interview after receiving a detailed email from us.  When we got the part in the interview where we require the candidate to evaluate a health history questionnaire according to ACSM risk stratification, she looked at me and asked, “What’s risk stratification?”  Seriously.

Tip #3:  Make sure the candidate understands your audience.

It’s worth noting that today’s graduates are moving through health-related degree programs that require an internship to graduate.  But there was a day (trust me, I would know about this) when degree programs did not require an internship.  Use the required internship that your candidate has under her belt to dig a little deeper into that individual’s preferred clientele. 

Let’s face it, not everyone can hack it in a corporate wellness program based in a manufacturing setting.  Some candidates would be bored in a white collar office environment, and still others have no business working with an active aging audience in a senior living setting.  Ask some probing questions to find out whether your candidate really fits your environment and your audience.

Case in point:  On more occasions than I care to admit, I have interviewed candidates who, when talking about the demographic with whom they prefer to work, have indicated that they’re OK working with “older adults”.  When I press what they mean by “older adult”, they say something like, “You know, adults over maybe age 40 or 45.”  And I used all the energy I have left not to laugh out loud.

What to do about your candidate opening.

If this blog has you wondering about your ability to hire your own fitness professional, particularly in a senior living setting where you really have to nail both the hard and soft skills in a candidate, check out our recorded Build Vitality webinar series.  The third webinar specifically addresses hiring capable staff.

ICAA Article Release: How to Onboard a Fitness Professional
Topics: corporate wellness active aging nifs fitness management hiring tips

Corporate Wellness: Is Obesity Really a Disease?

obese manOfficially, one-third of the U.S. is now ill. The American Medical Association has voted and officially upgraded obesity from a “condition” to a “disease.”

While I have no doubt this decision will affect everyone due to the change in how insurance companies view and care for obesity, I find myself wondering whether obesity truly should be considered a disease. Some will argue it fits the definition of a disease. People die of obesity as they would cancer, while others feel people actually die of the diseases from the metabolic dysfunction, which in turn causes obesity. It’s a very complex issue that has already created quite the debate, and surely there is more to come.

The Implications of Classifying Obesity as a Disease

One thing is for sure: By classifying obesity as a disease that is costing insurance companies and Americans more money, there will be increased pressure on associated industries to work together to find a “cure.” As an example, obesity needs to be measured differently on a universal scale. The current standard is Body Mass Index (BMI) and because of this simplistic means of measuring one’s height versus weight, the Council on Science and Public Health actually recommended against classifying obesity as a disease. It is not uncommon for someone with a BMI above the recommended level to be healthy and free from metabolic dysfunction. On the other hand, it is equally normal to have someone who is within the recommended BMI range with an unhealthy amount of body fat and suffering from the same metabolic dysfunction. The first person would be overtreated, while the latter would go untreated.

My Opinion on Obesity Diagnosis and Treatment

Do I feel obesity is a disease? No, it is my professional opinion that obesity is a symptom or marker of metabolic dysfunction; however, I am optimistic now that it has gained the title of disease because it does shed new light on the issue. My fear is that classifying obesity as a disease will bring obesity too far into the medical world. Insurance is likely to cover expensive drugs and surgeries rather than support lifestyle changes. Knowing there is no single way to “cure” everyone of obesity, I feel strongly this would not be the right direction to go. As we seek an effective means of treatment for obesity, I support its classification as a disease under a few conditions:

  • If a more inclusive method for identification and diagnosis is implemented. BMI alone is not sufficient or even accurate in some cases.
  • If each case is handled separately. With different causes of obesity and metabolic dysfunction, there will be multiple successful methods.
  • Lifestyle changes should play a role in all cases to some degree, and including these changes should be a priority.
  • More resources need to be applied to further research and education of causes, treatments, and prevention of obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

What do you think? Comment below and watch for part two in this three-part obesity series, on the causes of obesity.

Topics: overweight employees Body Mass Index obesity control healthcare costs

Active Aging: Taking the Extra Step Toward Fitness

senior playing with a dogHow many times do you circle a parking lot looking for that perfect spot right in front of the door? It doesn’t matter if I am at the supermarket, a sporting event, a restaurant, or even the gym (sad, but true); I see people circling the lot like they’re in the Indy 500. As I get out of my car and walk to my destination, all I can do is ask myself, “Do they really think they are benefiting from parking in front of the door?”

My reasons for parking in the back of lots have changed over the years, but the end result hasn’t, and that is more steps walked equals more calories burned.

Can You Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day?

If you have ever been in a walking program or used a pedometer, there is a good chance you were advised to hit the 10,000-steps-per-day mark, but what does that mean? Is it attainable? Let’s break it down into numbers we deal with on a regular basis.

The average person’s stride length (the distance between successive points of contact of the same foot) is about 2.5 feet, so one step would be about 16 inches (assuming a normal walking pattern), which means you take about 4,000 steps to walk a mile. So if your goal is 10,000 steps per day, you will walk about 2 miles per day. If you consistently hit that 10,000-step mark, you are considered moderately active.

But what about the people who frequently take less than 5,000 steps per day? People in this group are considered sedentary. A drastic increase in steps can lead to many people quitting shortly after starting. People looking to increase their daily steps should look to add about 500 to 1,000 steps per day and increase at this rate every week until they hit their goal. So if you currently take 5,000 steps a day and you are increasing your steps by 1,000 per day per week, it will take you 5 weeks to hit your 10,000-step goal.

How to Walk More Steps

So where can you find these hidden steps, you ask? Here are a few activities you can adjust to add extra steps:

  • Parking farther back in parking lots: Parking an additional 20 spaces back equals about 200 steps round trip.
  • Getting up to change the channel: Changing channels 6 times per day equals about 60 steps total.
  • Walking to consult a coworker as opposed to calling them: Based on 2 round-trips of 60 feet equals about 200 steps.
  • Take the stairs: Taking the stairs causes more caloric expenditure than walking on a flat surface, and one flight equals about 15 steps.
  • Walk your pet: Walking around the block equals about 1,000 steps.

These are easy ways to add a few hundred steps to your day; pick and choose all, one, or something else. The goal is to go at your pace and to do what you like; anything else will just lead to a decline in program adherence until you ultimately quit. The steps you need are all around you, and if you look hard enough I guarantee you can find the time and energy to take an extra step.

Topics: employee health walking employee wellness fitness healthy habits staying active physical activity counting steps

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Take it outdoors

Getting in ruts with your usual workout equipment? Trying going a completely different route and using “equipment” in the great outdoors! An outdoor workout can be performed at a public park, a nature trail or even in your own backyard.

Mixing up your workout routine this way not only challenges the muscles by giving them a new environment and new textures, but also keeps you mentally engaged in your exercise. The more excited you are about a workout, the more likely you are going to stick with it, and the more likely you will put in all of your effort.

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with some outdoor workouts, and you can easily get the whole family involved. Here are some ideas to get you started—there are many more!

Park bench

  • Step-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Dips
  • 1-leg squats

Trail or pathway

  • Walking lunges
  • Walking side squats

Hill or inclined area

  • Sprints up, jog down
  • Bear crawl up, crab walk down

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Why Fitness Initiatives Fail in Corporate Wellness: Truth #2

In part 1 of this blog, I started with a gloomy portrayal of the mess many wellness vendors have made of the seemingly altruistic endeavor of corporate wellness. Okay, maybe corporate wellness isn’t altruistic; maybe that’s a little “Pollyanna” of me. But I think we can agree that one of the primary motives for implementing a corporate wellness program is to help employees improve their health.

And if employers are focused on improving employee health through corporate wellness, one of the elements they need in their strategy is opportunities for exercise and physical activity. Enter truth #1: Fitness initiatives fail in corporate wellness because they aren’t creative.

Let’s move on to truth #2:

support from leadership for corporate wellnessTruth #2: Fitness initiatives fail as part of a corporate wellness strategy because they lack multilevel support within the organization.

“Support” comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s about money; in other cases, we need to look at support through company health policy. And in still other circumstances, support comes in the form of hands and feet—actual people who are driving your wellness initiatives.

To the CEO, CFO, and COO: We cannot run successful initiatives without money. There is a lot we can accomplish with no more than brains and people power, but at the end of the day, we’ll need some money. Recognizing that and removing the hurdles for your health promotion staff to get basic funding will go a long way toward ensuring success.

If your organization is considering company health policies, but there is significant pushback about legislating what people eat or how they spend their break time, keep these thoughts in mind:

  • You’re not Mayor Bloomberg: You don’t have to get your policies passed through government or the courts.
  • Writing policies with some flexibility that allows employees to choose their path will resonate better than dictating your own 10 healthy commandments. For example, if you write a healthy food policy for meetings, you can allow employees to still have donuts and pastries, but their department will have to foot 100 percent of that cost. If they choose fresh fruit, whole-grain bagels, and low-fat yogurt, the company will significantly subsidize the cost of the food.

Following are a few key ways to find the support you need to ensure successful fitness programming as part of your corporate wellness strategy.

Find Your Fitness Champions and Put Them to Work

There is a good chance you have employees who are already passionate about regular exercise. Leverage their enthusiasm by anointing them as your fitness champions and providing them with enough support to invite those around them to participate in your corporate fitness program. Put those individuals on your advisory committees or wellness teams and empower them to use their experiences to positively motivate their peers.

Create a Fitness Center Reimbursement Policy

If you don’t have an onsite corporate fitness center, or your fitness center is not accessible to your entire workforce, implementing a reimbursement policy for fitness center membership may be an important addition to your wellness policies. Use the web as a resource for writing your policy; SHRM offers this sample fitness center reimbursement policy as a guideline.

Check with your health insurance provider. They may have a commercial fitness center network you can participate in that offers discounted memberships to your employees as well as countrywide membership for employees who travel routinely. You may also be able to negotiate company membership rates with commercial gyms in your area; most fee-based facilities have an established corporate wellness members programs for this purpose. You can find out more by calling the facility and speaking to a membership representative.

Require Fitness Goals as Part of Annual Performance Appraisals

Imagine the potential to truly move the needle on the health of your workforce by fostering an environment where colleagues help each other achieve their health-related goals. Consider the impact of successfully meeting those goals as a small piece of each employee’s performance.

Incentivize Participation in the Corporate Fitness Center

Help your employees connect the dots between your corporate fitness center and your overall corporate wellness strategy by incentivizing participation in the facility—just like you incentivize participation in other parts of your wellness program.

Provide Flex-time to Allow Anytime Workouts

Building a variety of physical activity opportunities into the work day will have the greatest impact if your organization supports a flexible schedule for participation throughout the day. Rethink the traditional workday to allow for increased access to exercise options. When you have a traditional hourly workforce (for example, call-center or manufacturing-based employees), providing flex-time will require some creativity and new thinking to figure out how to maintain business operations while your workforce has 15 minutes of paid daily physical activity time.

Subsidize a Walking/Running Club

Spring for t-shirts for your employee-driven walking or running club. Not only do the participants of the running club feel supported by their employer, they also become moving billboards for your organization that promote your interest in your employees’ health.

Manage the budget for this simple program by establishing club rules that allow for the company to subsidize participation in one (or two, or whatever the company can afford) road races per year. There’s a good chance you already have a champion at your organization who will spearhead this club; count on that person to take the initiative and to literally run with it.

You can’t do it alone. Seriously, you can’t. As you’re mapping out that creative programming we talked about with truth #1, also map out who can provide you with additional support both inside and outside your organization.

Up next: truth #3, which focuses on keeping your company out of legal hot water that could arise as a result of poorly planned fitness initiatives.

Looking for one resource that contains all four of these truths about why corporate fitness initiatives fail in corporate wellness?  Download our eBook for the full series.

CORP Initiatives

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness ROI corporate fitness centers; return on investement engagement

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Push Up Challenge

free workout fridaySummer is the perfect time to take on a big fitness challenge! How about trying the famous 100 Push-ups challenge? This website will give you a training program to follow to start increasing your number of push-ups from your initial baseline. Even if you don’t make it to 100 after the 7-week program, you can still really increase the endurance in your muscles and double your push-up number! You can attempt this challenge on your toes, or modified, on your knees.

Aside from the push-ups that are built into the training program, here are some other strength exercises you can do to assist with a hefty goal of 100 push-ups:

  1. Chest press—This exercise trains the pectoral muscles, which are the main ones you use during a push-up. Work on lifting heavier weight and doing 8-10 reps to work on muscular strength, then also lifting lighter weight for 15-20 reps to work on muscular endurance.
  2. Shoulder press—Shoulders are a secondary muscle group that are working in performing a push-up. Work on increasing both the muscular strength and endurance with a mixture of high and low reps.
  3. Dips—Triceps are the assistor muscles to any chest exercise, like a push-up, so strengthening them is also important. Try dips, which are a body weight exercise similar to a push-up. Perform them until muscle fatigue.
  4. Plank—Since the body is held in a plank position for the majority of a push-up, it’s also important to strengthen the core. After many reps of push-ups, you may start to feel it in your abs just as much as your arms! In the plank, really stress keeping the hips in line with your body and lifting the belly button up to the spine. Hold until muscle fatigue. Like what you just read? Click here to subscribe to the blog.

 

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness nifs fitness management Free Workout Friday

Why Fitness Initiatives Fail in Corporate Wellness: Truth #1

Let’s face it: There’s a lot wrong in corporate wellness today. If you read this article on Forbes.com that summarized a 2013 RAND report on corporate wellness, you might be depressed. Or worse, you might be ready to throw in the towel on your business strategy for improving employee health. 

It's tough not to be disillusioned. This is an industry with a lot of mixed messages that vendors aren't working to clear up.  There are the over-simplification statements, like one vendor who promoted a “got engagement” message, as if we could simply add an ingredient to generate engagement. (I already ranted about this concept once; you can read the blog here.)

Other vendors are so bent on reporting and marketing positive ROI that they don’t do their homework on the tricky science of capturing true ROI. Their reports of 5:1, 7:1, or even a 10:1 return send mixed messages to buyers in the corporate wellness market. (For more on my thoughts about ROI, check out this blog.)

In truth, we’ve probably overcomplicated it; corporate wellness strategies can be fairly simple to develop. There are some critical health-related components that I think are required for a sound strategy. These include opportunities for the following:

  • Exercise or physical activity
  • Nutritious and delicious foods
  • Tobacco-free environments
  • Stress resilience education/support

And all of those components should be built on the idea of creating a successful environment where employees can thrive.  A number of elements need to be in place to create opportunities for employees to access that healthy list. Those elements vary by client, and truth be told, we’re not experts at all of them.

The bulk of our work in the last 25+ years has been focused on helping individuals improve their fitness level throughout their lifespan. So I’m going to stick with what we know and provide a four-part blog with time-tested truths about why fitness initiatives fail in corporate wellness programming. Truth #1 is below. 

creative corporate fitness programsTruth #1: Fitness initiatives fail as part of a corporate wellness strategy because of a lack of programming creativity.

Why so many corporate wellness programs get stuck on the same old walking program is beyond me. The options for establishing fun, inviting, and effective programs are many. I’ve listed several below based on our experience working with clients of all shapes and sizes. This is by no means an exhaustive list; you are limited only by your own creativity.

If this list doesn’t jumpstart you, try searching the Internet and current literature, polling your workforce for what they want, and leveraging the passion of your avid exercisers to build a diverse program portfolio.

Start Walking Programs

Yes, I just bashed “same old walking program” above. The truth is, this is a simple and generally effective way to get employees moving. But you cannot just slap up a poster for “Walking at Work” and call it done. Consider options like the following:

  • What does participation and completion look like?
  • Will you include pedometers or advocate that employees enlist the support of a particular app to help them track their progress?
  • What are the start and end dates for the program? (This sounds so elementary, but programs with hard starts and stops are generally more effective than the ongoing—and typically unchecked—walking initiative.)
  • Do you want to enlist the support of web-based, fee-oriented programs to help with tracking or will you go with the wearables phenomenon?
  • How will you celebrate successes both during and after the program?
  • How will you support participants throughout the program?

Sponsor Group Fitness Classes

There’s something about community that makes group exercise classes appealing. For a lot of people, the only way they exercise is through a class format. Fortunately, this is typically a low-cost initiative, and if you’re willing to pass the cost on to the employee, it can be free for the employer. For more about corporate group fitness classes, download our quick read: 3 Keys to Adding Group Exercise at Work.

Beautify Your Stairwells

Honestly, think about the last hotel you were in. Did you venture to the stairwell to get from your second-floor room to the restaurant on the main level only to find that lighting was poor, and your safety in that enclosed space was questionable? I bet you backed up and reluctantly took the elevator down one flight. What a waste!

The same experience is being had by employees all over corporate America because our stairwells are dark, boring, uninviting—or worse, unsafe. You can overcome appearance issues by committing minimal dollars for brighter paint and improved lighting. Then cap off the capital improvements by launching a “Take the Stairs” campaign. Visit the CDC’s StairWELL to Better Health website for resources for building a robust and impactful stairwell campaign.

Add Lockers and Showers

If you’re serious about creating a variety of opportunities for your employees to exercise as part of your broader corporate wellness strategy, adding locker rooms to your campus sends a strong message.

And if you’re going to go so far as to install the locker room areas, you might as well at least give consideration to providing bike lockers. Serious cyclists won't use traditional bike racks because they don't keep their expensive equipment safe. Unless you want to see bikes stashed in offices and other workspaces inside your workplace, bike lockers deserve consideration.

Build an Onsite Corporate Fitness Center

As it turns out, installing locker rooms is kind of the gateway drug to doing bigger projects to ensure the success of fitness initiatives in connection with your corporate wellness strategy. Recommendations around accomplishing this significant undertaking are too much to outline here. For more information on the basic considerations for building a corporate fitness center, you can download our webinar series.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

The outline above isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s enough to get you started so that your fitness initiatives avoid the lack-of-creativity trap that seals their doom.  Up next, truth #2: Look for information about how stakeholders can help your fitness opportunities either sink or swim.

Looking for one resource that contains all four of these truths about why corporate fitness initiatives fail in corporate wellness?  Download our eBook for the full series.

CORP Initiatives

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program ROI corporate fitness centers; return on investement engagement

NIFS: Eating Cherries to Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Move over blueberries! Cherries are the new food superstar! Recent research from the American College of Sports Medicine has shown that tart cherries may have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food out there. The fruit’s bright red color as well as the antioxidants it contains are connected to reduced levels of inflammation that compare to the capability of many pain medications.

Many corporate wellness clients are dealing with ailments such as osteoarthritis and general chronic pain due to inflammation, so cherries could be a natural way to assist them in pain management. The article says that athletes in particular are more prone to osteoarthritis due to the wear and tear of their joints, so cherries could benefit this population as well.

Tart cherries are currently in season, but you can also find them in the dried or frozen variety during winter months. To read about the “Go Red Instead” campaign and to find more recipes like the one below, go to the Choose Cherries website.

bowl of cherriesCherry Berry Smoothie

Ingredients:
1/2 cup frozen tart cherries, pitted
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon cherry juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
8 ice cubes

Garnish:
1 tablespoon slivered toasted almonds
1 tablespoon chopped, dried tart cherries

Directions:
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into two chilled glasses. Garnish with almonds and dried cherries. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Info:
Nutritional analysis for one serving: Calories 164, Total Fat g 3, Sat Fat g 1, Chol mg 5, Sodium mg 57, Total Carb g 30, Fiber g 1, Sugars g 27, Protein g 5

Topics: nutrition antioxidants arthritis joint health inflammation

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Interval Workout

free workout fridayWhen you are exercising on an elliptical or stationary bike, it’s easy to go on auto-pilot and stay at the same easy to intermediate level that your body is used to. Next time you find yourself of one of these machines, try adding in some interval training! Intervals will make the heart rate jump, then allow for periods of recovery where the heart rate will fall, thus providing better conditioning for the cardiovascular system and burning more calories than the slower, steady-state cardio.

With both bikes and ellipticals, there are 2 ways to increase the intensity at which you are working. You can ramp up the resistance, making your legs work harder to push each time, and raising the heart rate that way. Or, you can increase the speed at which you are pedaling, giving an immediate boost to the heart rate. Play around with both separately, always allowing for recovery time after each round of high intensity. Then, when you feel ready, try building up both the resistance and the speed for a real challenge!

When you first begin intervals, there should be more minutes of rest than minutes of hard work. Slowly build up to an even ratio of rest to work, then after a few weeks of interval training, try to have most of the minutes be comprised of higher intensity work with smaller rest periods interspersed.

Try this sample 20 minute interval workout for the bike or elliptical. Use an intensity scale of levels 1-5, with 1 being very light, and 5 being very challenging.

0:00-3:00: Warm-up

3:00-3:30: Increase speed to level 2

3:30-4:00: Recovery

4:00-4:30: Increase speed to level 3

4:30-5:00: Recovery

5:00-5:30: Increase speed to level 4

5:30-6:00: Recovery

6:00-6:30: Increase resistance to level 2

6:30-7:00: Recovery

7:00-7:30: Increase resistance to level 3

7:30-8:00: Recovery

8:00-8:30: Increase resistance to level 4

8:30-10:00: Recovery

10:00-10:30: Increase speed to level 5

10:30-12:00: Recovery

12:00-12:30: Increase resistance to level 5

12:30-14:00: Recovery

14:00-14:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 4

14:30-16:00: Recovery

16:00-16:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 4

16:30-18:00: Recovery

18:00-18:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 5

18:30-20:00: Cool-down

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Topics: employee health exercise nifs fitness management Free Workout Friday interval workout

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Vacation Workout

Free Workout FridayDon’t Let Your Workouts Take a Vacation!

The summer months are times where many people take vacations and get away from their routines. Even if you find yourself traveling this summer, don’t let your fitness take a vacation! When you go for an extended period of time without logging your usual workouts, it can make it that much more challenging to get back into the groove when you return from vacation—both physically and mentally.

Think of fun or different things you can do for workouts while you are away from the gym. Remember that summer activities like hiking, canoeing and rock climbing all count as physical activity, so think outside of the box!

If you are going to be staying in a hotel room or other small space for a week or more, consider purchasing a resistance band. Unlike dumbbells, this equipment is light and easily portable, and it offers many options to continue your strength training while traveling.

Try this travel workout below, using a resistance band and body weight! Band exercises are demonstrated in the video below.

  1. Jog in place to warm-up: 1 min
  2. Body weight squats: 15 reps
  3. Push-ups (on knees or toes): 15 reps
  4. Band rows: 15 reps
  5. Jumping jacks: 1 min
  6. Band 1-arm shoulder press: 15 reps
  7. Band bicep curls: 15 reps
  8. Alternating lunges: 20 reps (10 per leg)
  9. Tricep dips: 15 reps
  10. Plank: 1 min

 

Corporate Wellness: Exercising Outdoors in the Heat of July

man swimmingIt's the Fourth of July and many of you are probably gearing up to enjoy the outdoors at family gatherings and pool parties.  Start your day off right with a workout.  During the summer months, exercise is seen as a daunting task by many, however it can be enjoyable if you follow these suggestions for exercising in warm weather. 

It is important for individuals of all exercise levels to take it easy when exercising in the heat.  Start off slow allowing the body to adapt to the heat.  Length and intensity of your workouts should increase gradually in order to avoid heat related illnesses.  Try completing your workouts in the morning or evening when the temperature is cooler.  When possible, find an area with plenty of shade to help keep your body cool on a hot summer day. 

Drinking adequate amounts of fluid while exercising will help keep your body temperature regulated.  Steer clear of drinks containing alcohol and caffeine before, during, and after your workouts.  When exercising outdoors for longer than one hour, rehydrate with sports drinks in order to replace electrolytes lost through sweat.

Proper attire is key to staying cool in warm weather.  Loose fitting, light-weight clothing allows your body to breath and stay cooler, longer.  Dark colors absorb heat, keep cool with light colored clothes.  In addition to protecting your body temperature, protect your skin as well by applying a high SPF sports sunscreen a minimum of 30 minutes before sun exposure. 

Hot, humid weather puts added stress on the body, be prepared with a back up plan.  For example, take your workout to the pool.  Depending on gender, height, and weight, swimming laps can burn more than 500 calories per hour.  Plus, what is more refreshing than jumping in a pool on a hot and humid summer day?!

 

Topics: corporate wellness exercise nifs fitness management health and wellness

Proven Strategies for Building a World-Class Senior Wellness Program

senior livingPart 2: Eight Strategies to Bring About Successful Collaboration

In Part 1, I talked about the importance of setting aside power grabs and tapping into the skill sets of a variety of community personnel to establish a well-rounded wellness program for residents. Read on to discover a variety of ways your community leaders can work together to deliver best-in-class wellness programming to your residents.

Therapy Department:

1: A formal bridge program should be established between your community therapy and fitness departments to help residents transition from therapy to fitness and vice versa. Residents should feel supported in the collaboration that occurs between these two departments as their needs change.

2: Fall prevention and screening services can be offered through either department, but why not take a unified approach? Coordinate fall-prevention programs, lectures, health fairs, etc., and allow your therapy and fitness personnel to work side by side in addressing the variety of resident needs.

Activities Department:

3: As special trips or events are planned for residents, activities personnel can sit down with the fitness and therapy teams to discuss the demands that will be placed on the residents for said activity. Allow your fitness and therapy personnel to promote the upcoming event and develop educational opportunities or training programs to help residents prepare. For example, if residents are going on a trip to a historical destination where they will be walking on cobblestone or brick sidewalks, programs could be offered to help them prepare for extended walking on the terrain, or a discussion on the importance of proper footwear, cane use, and more could be provided.

4: As fitness classes or programs are coordinated and room reservations need to be made, help show your residents that physical well-being is a priority by making rooms and promotional space on calendars and newsletters available to market these programs. After all, if you are going to regularly advertise Tuesday Afternoon Bridge Group on the calendar, why wouldn’t you equally advertise the Tuesday Morning Gentle Yoga Class?

Dining Services Department:

5: Coordinate healthy cooking demonstrations for residents to help them learn how to order healthy selections in the dining room and then sample those healthy options at the demo.

6: You likely provide refreshments to residents at a variety of events. Consider serving cookies and punch as occasional treats and making healthy and engaging options for residents to enjoy. Allow them to create healthy smoothies or yogurt parfaits or create a DIY trail-mix bar with healthy options as you offer an afternoon seminar. Have members of your dining services team present so residents can better connect the healthy options flowing from that department with the educational lecture they are about to hear.

Resident Health Services Department:

7: Fitness and health services staff could coordinate their weekly free blood pressure screenings to occur right outside the doors of where a well-attended group exercise class takes place. This may help capture more participants in this service and it may bring more awareness to the group exercise class by other residents simply looking to take advantage of the free screening.

8: If you have underutilized services available through your health services department such as home health care, medication assistance, and so on, speak with your activities personnel about doing a monthly highlight of the services in the newsletter or in a presentation. It’s often that residents don’t understand or don’t realize that a service is available to them more so than not being interested. Find opportunities to spread the message.

You’ll notice that fitness isn’t included as its own separate header because it is already represented by collaborating with the other departments in the list. This remains NIFS’s philosophy on resident wellness programming. It’s how we support wellness for our clients, and we’ve found it to be an effective model that serves well the needs of current residents as well as contributes positively to community occupancy and viability in the marketplace.

Want to learn more about how to build those key elements in your community? Join us for our Build Vitality webinar series.

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