Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: Be Active in the City over the Holiday

rope_courseSummer has flown by, unfortunately, and we’re headed into our last long weekend of summer. That obviously means have to have fun and live it up a little, so what better way to enjoy this three-day weekend than by spending time doing some of Indy’s popular activities with your family and friends?! There are a variety of activities available for all ages. You’re probably wondering what in the world there is to do in good ol’ Indianapolis. Some of the popular events include:

Family Adventures – You can test your risk taking and adventurous side by going to places like Go Ape! Treetop Adventure, a course at Eagle Creek with rope ladders, 39 crossings, including the log balance and flying carpet, Climb Time Indy, where you can challenge yourself with rock climbing, or Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, which includes a Foam Zone, Ultimate Dodgeball, SkySlam basketball courts, and SkyRobics fitness classes. I have only been to Sky Zone and I must say I had just as much fun as the kids there and it totally wore me out!

ActiveIndy Tours – Enjoy some fresh air while enjoying a view of the city you live in! There are walking tours, biking tours, bike rentals (I’d totally love to try out those new Pacer bikes for my own tour!), running tours, and custom/private tours. You have quite opportunity to listen to stories and explore history! Another neat little piece of info – the running tour fee is donated to the Back on My Feet chapter, which in turn helps create self-sufficiency within the Indianapolis homeless community. I am one who lives giving back to the community, so I find that pretty neat!

Parks – I can hear that fresh air calling your name now! Did you know that Indianapolis has five recommended parks, White River State Park, Eagle Creek Park and Marina, Fort Harrison State Park, Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden, and Holliday Park. Each offers a different view or attraction. White River State Park, the park with a few of the finer attractions within walking distance of each other, includes the Indianapolis Zoo (definitely checkout the new Orangutan Exhibit), the Eitlejorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indian State Museum, Victory Field.  Eagle Creek Park and Marina is one of the nation’s largest city parks, encouraging you to enjoy the great outdoors and relaxation! The Harrison State Park offers a golf course, historic districts, and beautiful foliage! Garfield Park houses plants from the world’s tropics, and said to be every green thumb’s dream. Every kid’s dream park has to be Holliday Park, considering its slide towers, tunnels, bridges, climbable spider web, and trail along the White River.

Fitness Center – Wanting to try a new gym without making the full commitment on the first day? NIFS offers a 14-day trial pass, allowing you to experience opportunities that fit your fitness level and interest; from group fitness classes, an NBA sized basketball court, to a relaxing steam room or sauna - you’re bound to find something that keeps you motivated and active!

The opportunities for a fun-filled weekend are endless!  You can read up and research activities that suit your fancy through the linked words above, but whatever you do, get out this weekend and enjoy every minute of it! Indy’s popular activities aren’t limited to just Labor Day weekend, so if this weekend is filled for you, plan for another weekend to be active and explore Indianapolis’ beauty!

What fun activities does your city offer? 

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Topics: active living

Corporate Fitness: Walk or Run for Heart Health

women_walkingWhat if I told you that instead of hitting the pavement for that dreaded 2 mile run, you can walk on your lunch break with a co-worker and keep your heart just as healthy? Sounds more appealing, doesn’t it?  We have long known the health benefits of walking, but most people would tell you if you want to be “more fit”, you should bump up the intensity to a run compared to a walk.  Before you call your running buddy and cancel, let me explain.

Thanks to researchers at Duke University, researchers have now shown that only two to three hours of mild exercise a week at a moderate intensity can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, does that mean if you are runner to stop and start walking? Not quite. That same study shows that those people who ran 20 miles a week vs. 12 achieved a higher improvement in fitness levels, but there’s more. The study also proves that walking 12 miles a week or running the same amount of miles doesn’t change an individual’s fitness level. This is great news for anyone who isn’t too fond of running, but is still looking to steer clear of cardiovascular disease. (Who isn’t right?!)

Not sure how to start a workout plan? Here are my top three tips:

  1. Talk with your doctor
  2. Meet with a Certified and Degreed Health Fitness Specialist for a fitness assessment and exercise prescription
  3. Start slow

Before you start any type of exercise program, it is always wise to first discuss this with your primary care doctor.  Your doctor will be able to discuss any concerns or restrictions you may have when first starting a new regimen. This is also a chance for you to ask any questions you may have about your health. Once you have talked to a doctor, the next best step is to meet with a degreed and certified Health Fitness Specialist. This professional will take you through a series of fitness tests to be able to correctly assess your current fitness level and also create a safe and individualized exercise plan.  They will lay out a plan that will best help you reach your goals. My third tip when first starting a new exercise program is to start slow. Make slow changes to your routine that becomes lifelong habits instead of trying to change everything at once. This will enable you to make changes that you can stick with and create a permanent change for your health.

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Topics: adapting to exercise running

Adding group fitness classes to your corporate wellness menu

Lack of time and lack of access are two key reasons that adults report when asked why they don’t get enough exercise.  You can put a stop to those excuses when you offer group exercise classes at work. While this is a fairly simple service to get started, there are some important steps you want to take to ensure you have a successful and safe group class program for your workforce.  Ask yourself the questions below and you’ll be on your way to providing a valued and well-attended wellness offering.

What space do we have available?

group exercise at workMost businesses have some kind of space available to host a group fitness class.  You don’t have to have dedicated group exercise space with a suspended hard wood floor to get started.   An open conference room can work at your site for both mid-day and after work classes.

Take a look at the space you have to run classes and make some choices based on what you have available. For example, a smaller space might better accommodate a mind/body class like pilates or yoga.  A larger room might make it possible to have a cardio-focused or high movement class like cardio kickboxing or bootcamp.  Keep in mind that many class formats can be done with little to no equipment.

What am I willing to spend?

While providing group exercise classes onsite won’t be your most expensive wellness initiative, it does require some financial resources.  How you spend those resources is up to you.  Consider the list below:

  • While many class formats can be taught with little to no equipment, you may want to invest in some basics to broaden the offerings available for your employees.   For less than $500, you can purchase some stability balls, exercise tubing, a small stereo, and a few exercise mats.  Remember that those supplies will occasionally need to be replaced, so plan for some annual supply costs.
  • Group exercise instructor fees also need to be considered.  We see these costs handled in one of three ways:  (1) the employees pay the instructor, (2) the employer and the participants share the cost, or (3) the employer pays the full cost of the instructor.  Wages will vary by class format and by geography. 

What do my employees want?

Finding out the most popular choices among your workforce can be as simple as offering a quick survey. Consider asking about the following:

  • Preferred time(s) of day
  • Preferred day(s) of the week
  • Preferred format(s)
  • Willingness to pay a small fee (and how much)

We also suggest that you start small by testing the waters with short sessions.  Popularity for specific instructors, formats, and times of day will give you a clear indication what will work for your site. Once you’ve determined a pattern, you can begin to grow your program. 

Lastly, make sure you’ve covered all your legal bases with your risk/legal team before you begin.

NIFS does all this and more for our corporate clients.  We're providing group exercise classes for businesses of all types throughout Indianapolis, so if you want to work with a professional team who has more than two decades of experience and more than 100 instructors ready to teach, connect with us today to find out more.  

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Topics: corporate wellness

Active Aging: What if your activities director stopped being an order taker

timeoutIt’s busy at your community; sometimes it’s so busy that residents complain they have a hard time choosing what program to attend.  Inevitably, the calendar is so full they have to miss events they love in order to attend something else. And your activities director is at the heart of that bustling calendar. 

She’s responding to her monthly resident committee, and she’s fielding one-off requests from residents who stop by her office or who catch her in the hall.  She’s also responding to phone calls from community groups or individuals who are interested in performing for or working with the residents. 

Oh, and don’t forget the opportunities offered by other areas of the community.  The therapy group has a monthly educational presentation they want to do.  The fitness manager runs a host of exercise classes each week and wants to draw residents into his quarterly competitions.  The dietician and chef want to host a bi-monthly cooking demonstration, and the social worker wants to bring in experts from the community as resources for the residents. 

Your activities director performs a delicate balancing act every month taking “orders” (requests) from residents and the community; all while, she’s balancing existing and long-standing calendar events.  (Do not mess with the card player’s schedule!)  The programming is delicately placed on the calendar and carefully scheduled with typically limited space inside the community and tightly booked transportation to areas outside of the community. 

If this sounds like your community, then you can agree that it is indeed busy. 

And yet, busy doesn’t build purpose. 

Residents in your community aren’t looking solely to be entertained.  They’re looking for purposeful living in a setting where some of the barriers that used to get in the way, like home maintenance, have been removed.  They’re looking for opportunities to contribute, and to grow, and to connect in new and challenging ways. 

What if your activities director stopped being an order taker?  What if she stopped using the meeting minutes from her monthly committee minute as a to do list and started thinking strategically about how to engage a variety of stakeholders in the planning process for resident events and activities?

You see, right now, the activities director is functioning much like the wait staff in your dining venues.  She’s greeting a table (resident committee), introducing herself (new residents), and asking residents what they want to do.  She’s taking their orders, and fulfilling the requests (as best she can).  And in fact, there’s nothing wrong with that model.  It’s what happens in most communities on a regular basis.  In most cases, residents are quite happy with their program/event options.

So, if the residents are happy, why on earth would I be talking about a different way of building lifestyle at the community? 

Because there’s more richness out there for your residents; there is more that can be done to build purposeful living.  And there are residents who don’t participate because you haven’t tapped their interest or desires yet.  (Oh, there is also marketing goodness on the table with a changed approach.)

If your activities director moved away from taking orders, could she build more intentional opportunities for residents to engage in the community lifestyle programming?  Would more of your residents be involved in the offerings because of the thoughtful approach to a variety of interests represented by your diverse audience?

To be clear, I’m not advocating you turn programming on its head. (We do not need your residents in an uproar over substantial changes to beloved activities.)  I am instead suggesting that your activities director take a fresh approach to how the calendar is organized, who is supporting events, how events are developed, and how success is measured. 

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when you’re trying to change an approach or a process.  Our Build Vitality webinar series (which covers branding, staff, program, and fitness center design) is a good resource.  I linked a few of our blogs above for more information as well.  If you’re still not sure where to go to get started, or you’d like a more hands on approach, consider bringing us onsite for consulting to help you chart a course to build a multidimensional activities calendar that cultivates purpose for your residents.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Topics: active aging senior living communities

Corporate Fitness: How to engage employees in a manufacturing setting

hot_tired_employeeYou have established an employee wellness program for your employees, maybe you even have an onsite fitness center available free of cost to your workforce.  What you’re finding is that after a long shift of being on their feet, and a couple hours of over-time your workforce is exhausted.   It’s hot, some of their work areas do not have air conditioning and they feel they have sweat enough and now you want them to exercise?   They already feel like you control their lives, they are work 6 days a week and they don’t want to be required to do more.  They are ready to get home, spend some time with their families before waking up to do it all over again.  As the employer you are left feeling like your investment isn’t being utilized by employees.  It can be frustrating, it's free to them, you have provided top notch equipment, what else could they want?  Consider what has been implemented and survey your employees and find out what barriers keep them from utilizing your onsite corporate fitness center or participating in wellness offerings.

You might find there are a variety of reasons that prevent your employees’ ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Whether it is work, family life that is jammed packed with their children’s activities, appointments, volunteer commitments, you can relate to needing to get home after a long day.  Consider the following ways to engage your workforce to be more involved in your onsite corporate wellness program.

1)      Engage them at work!  You can’t always expect employees to get involved on their own time.  Show that you support the use of the onsite fitness center, or involvement by offering time during their day to participate in wellness activities.  Consider how you can get employees moving during a 15 minute break with brief walking groups or stretch sessions. Showing employees that you can relate to them will go a long way. 

2)      Team collaboration.  It’s time to come together as a team.  Whether you out source your fitness center staff, or have an in-house team they can collaborate with HR by providing new hire presentations to initiate involvement in your fitness and wellness program.  If you have a health service department, your fitness team can work with them to offer lifestyle modification programming to target individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, or weight management issues.

3)      Offer incentives.  Prizes go a long way and don’t always have to be expensive.  When budgeting for the year consider incentive prizes to pair with your programming such as fitness gear, it’s amazing what people will do for a new shirt, gym bag, medicine ball, etc.  Other items to consider would be pedometers, fit bits, polar watches, and gift cards.  Most employees need that little incentive to push them to participate.

4)      Involve families.  Your employee’s families also affect your company’s health care costs.  Create an event to draw in spouses and dependents to teach them about your wellness offerings.  Consider a weekend wellness fair or make it a component of your employee appreciation picnics. 

5)      Devote a day.  Whether it be once a month, or once a year dedicate a time which focuses on the health and wellbeing of your workforce.  Incorporate a monthly Wellness Wednesday event where your wellness staff can provide screenings such as blood pressure, flexibility, or body composition screenings.  These can be set up in a hallway, cafeteria, or break time gathering area to engage members with a hands’ on approach while they are off line. 

Employees don’t want to feel forced into participating, but having support from the top does encourage employees.  Check out this blog post about how CEO support can help drive your corporate wellness results. 

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Topics: corporate wellness

NIFS: Physical Fitness Standards, Men vs Women

running_3Every morning I am hitting up the NIFS Fitness Center working towards the goal to stay healthy and fit.  I see all types of people with different fitness interests; those who participate in group fitness classes, those who always do cardio, or those who strictly lift weights. No matter their interest, I am always curious about their fitness journey. Why did they start? What is their progress? Are they working towards a goal? My usual gym routine consists of mostly lifting weights and getting in some cardio as well. I try to keep it balanced, but it is occasionally difficult. Being female and lifting heavy weights just seems to be so wrong and unattractive to some these days, but why? Wouldn’t you think that women would want to be as strong or fit as men, but maybe without the bulkiness? This leads to me to explain a controversial article I read recently posted on the ABC news website discussing a Fitness Test controversy in Pennsylvania. The head of the Pennsylvania State Police claimed that the agency’s physical fitness standards for recruits discriminate against women. Overall, nearly all male recruits pass the test, while 30% of women fail. An implemented fitness test must pass the threshold rule; 80% must pass. A lawsuit was filed; asking a judge to order the department to hire women on an equal basis with men. The Commissioner said he did not want to lower the standards because new troopers perform the same job and lowering the standards would endanger safety, as well insult those who already met the standards. This controversial topic sparked my interest and thoughts on the physical fitness test standards for other situations, like the one administered in gym class.

With kids heading back to school, that means gym class starting back up too! Although the President’s Challenge has not been used since 2013 and new guide to promoting fitness in schools is used, a variety of schools once used this method of teaching kids how to lead a healthy life. The Physical Fitness Test recognizes students for their level of physical fitness by doing 5 activities; curl ups or partial curl ups, shuttle run, endurance run/walk, pull-ups or right angle push-ups or flexed arm hang, and the v-sit reach. Based on their results three awards are given. The benchmarks are specific to age and gender. The girls’ benchmarks are lower than the boys’. So, this is where I ask your thoughts. Do you think that fitness test requirements like the ones mentioned should vary between males and females or should they be equal? What are your thoughts on strength training to create a better you? I want to hear your thoughts! Connect with a health fitness specialist in your corporate fitness center to strive to improve on your own numbers. 

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Topics: fitness health and wellness