Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Free Workout Friday: Tone and Stretch

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This week we are going to tone and work the upper body while stretching out the lower body.  It's important to remember to stretch your muscles to prevent tightness and improve range of motion through your joints.  As we age and become less active your joints become stiff, if you continue to incorporate stretching into your routine your body will stay limber and help reducde pain and discomfort.  Remember, it's always important to warm up the body before a workout.  

Workout

  • R leg hamstring stretch – 30 sec
  • Push-ups – 8x
  • L leg hamstring stretch – 30 sec
  • Push-ups – 8x
  • R single leg downdog to pigeon stretch – 30 sec (pic below)
  • Slow knee pull push-ups, alternate R/L (knee to elbow) – 4x (pic below)
  • L single leg downdog to pigeon stretch – 30 sec
  • Slow knee pull push-ups, alternate L/R (knee to elbow) – 4x
  • Downdog to R side lunge stretch – 30 sec (pic below)
  • Downdog tricep push-ups – 8x (pic below)
  • Downdog to L side lunge stretch – 30 sec
  • Downdog tricep push-ups – 8x
  • Wide straddle stretch – 30 sec
  • Frog stretch – 30 sec (pic below)
  • Slow tricep push-ups – 4x
  • Wide straddle stretch – 30 sec
  • Frog stretch – 30 sec
  • Slow tricep push-ups – 4x

Exercise Pictures

Single leg downdog to pigeon, 2 pictures

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Knee pull push-ups

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Side lunge stretch

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Downdog tricep push-ups

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Frog stretch

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Topics: Free Workout Friday

Is Your Senior Fitness Program Challenging Enough?

At this point most retirement communities have recognized that senior fitness programs are as important as having a great social program or food and beverage program. The impact these programs have on marketing is tremendous, and so it is no wonder that everyone is looking to have the most popular programs with the newest class titles. Now that exercise is a key focal point and the residents are in the community, take a look at your programs and see if they are doing the residents justice. 

senior_womenDoes Your Program Help Residents Reach Their Full Potential?

In the most recent ICAA Research Review, there is an article shining light on sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle strength and mass due mainly to age. Simply put, as we get older we naturally become weaker. While reading this article I began to question how many programs in retirement communities truly push their residents to accomplish their full potential. 

Does your program challenge your residents to get down on the floor and back up again a few times during a class? No? Why not? Many of my residents are insulted when others expect that they can no longer get on the floor. I also have many who say they cannot get on the floor because then they won’t be able to get up. Over time our community’s fitness instructors and I have been able to prove to the residents that they can still get up from down on the floor and that it does get easier with practice. More importantly, being able to get up off the floor is vital to practice. 

According to the CDC, one out of three seniors will fall, and less than half of them will go to the doctor in regard to their falls. Now stop and think about all of those people that can’t get on the floor because they “won’t be able to get back up.” Statistics show there is a very high likelihood that they will land on the ground, and that is a terrible time to learn they truly can’t get up. 

Don’t Get Complacent

We, as individuals, have always had someone to help guide us, challenge us, and push us to achieve more, work harder, and be true to ourselves. When do we decide we no longer push someone? At what age do we decide that an individual should turn on the cruise control and just be? As a person of wellness, I don’t believe there is ever a time to show someone it is okay to become complacent. These individuals need to see that they are still capable of doing a great deal more. We need to be willing to work with our seniors both in classes and individually to help safely get them stronger—or at least maintain the strength they have—in order to help them not only live a longer life, but live a longer and more independent life. 

How do you challenge your senior living residents? When is the last time you asked them if they were being challenged enough? I bet you would be surprised at how many are asking for something a little more. I know I was. 

For more on why fitness is so important for seniors, see this post.

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Topics: senior wellness programs CCRC fitness center senior living fitness center senior group fitness classes

NIFS Member Speak: Mandy Kisamore transforms herself and her family

members_speakMandy Kisamore was a little reserved when we first met. She is not a jump in the front of the room type of person. She came to a few classes and then became more of a regular.  After a while she started to hang around after class and ask questions that began with her and then shifted toward her children, and her family. She has done a lot of work from when she started and it hasn’t stopped with her.  Check out her story about how she transformed herself and her family.  It has been extremely rewarding to be able to be a part of Mandy’s success. 

Transforming Myself and My Family

Exercise was not one of my favorite things to do.  It was never fun; I would never look forward to it, or hate to miss a class. Today is a different story.

Three years ago I started to get serious about taking care of myself.  This transformation has been, and continues to be, a struggle that I have to work on at every class, at every workout, and every time I exercise.

Here is my story.  In the beginning, my family and friends would always tell me that I needed to find some “me” time.  Having a husband and two kids at home, finding “me” time was the last thing I thought was a possibility.  After thinking about this “me” time that I apparently needed, I decided that I would start checking out the gym at work and the classes that were offered.  I thought that would be something positive for me, mentally and physically.  That could be my “me” time, one night a week for 45 minutes. 

Mandy_Kisamore

Of course going to the gym itself is overwhelming, and joining a class for the first time was terrifying for me.  I found myself frustrated during the past three years because the scale did not tell me the number I wanted it to. I have had to shift my thinking to look at the inches I have lost, the new pants I have had to buy, the muscles I have built, and the confidence I have gained.  During the past three years I have had some setbacks which were frustrating, but I know that I cannot stop now. I feel that I have come so far that giving up and going back to where I was is not an option for me.  I started with a lower body class, it was only 30 minutes and who doesn’t want a better back side? A few friends and I started going to the class together. It was definitely a good decision to start with people I knew.  To my surprise, I ended up enjoying the class and started going once a week.  I attended this class for a month, and then added two classes a week for the next month, then three a week the next month. I soon found myself going to as many classes as I could fit into my schedule. As time went on, I could feel how much better I felt inside, and I could see the changes that were happening to my body.  These helped me stay motivated and continue trying different exercise classes.

My motivation to keep pushing through and continuing to make this more of a lifestyle change than what started as just a way to find “me” time is definitely my family.  To see the changes and the positive thought process this “me time” has brought to my family is amazing to see.  At one point during this journey my son said he was proud of me.  That was such a motivator for me to keep going no matter how hard it was, or how much I didn’t think I could keep up with it.  Since then, my kids have started paying attention to their eating habits, and exercising because they want to.  My husband, sister, and father have been making changes to be healthier as a result of what I have started.  It is wonderful to see that what started as one group fitness class has turned into a positive change for my entire family.

To me, every positive change you make is a success, whether it is stepping foot in the gym, joining your first class, or trying a healthier meal out on your family.  These changes can lead to so many more positive changes in your life. Although I haven’t reached my initial goals yet, I have found the smaller goals I have made are just as important.  I have to remind myself of what I’ve already accomplished, and that I am a work in progress.  I am going to keep trying to be a better healthier me, for myself and my family.   

Interested in helping your employees make great strides in changing their habits to live healthier lives?  Checkout NIFS Fitness Management Services to see how we help your workforce.

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

Corporate Fitness Services

Topics: employee health and fitness NIFS member speak corporate wellness success

What If: Your Corporate Fitness Center Was Free of Intimidation?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

To build this “What If” series of blogs, I polled our staff about their desires and dreams for their members and clients, and I have to admit, I was a little surprised that so many of our staff gave me feedback about building a corporate fitness center that their members could visit without guilt and intimidation. Apparently corporate shaming is still alive and well, and we as health and fitness professionals have a long way to go toward building member confidence in the fitness center.

So for this blog I’m going to run through the things that lead to perceptions of guilt as well as what we can do to build corporate environments that support the individual who takes care of his health. I’ll also be breaking down that intimidation factor to look at ways we can provide better support to our less confident members.

stern_bossManagement Doesn’t Support Staff Taking Their Break Time to Work Out

Somehow, we still have managers who think that butts in the seats all day long is the best way to get employees to be productive. Science would tell us otherwise, and I offered three different studies on this very topic in an earlier blog (3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program).

I understand there are quotas to be met, and I’m not saying companies should throw those to the wind. Absolutely, the business runs on meeting those goals, and no, the goals can’t be met when employees are working out and not working. But there’s a break point, for all of us (yes, even for you), where we start to lose focus and where we no longer do our best work. The managers who are still looking down their noses at employees who need an activity break should ask themselves which employee is a more effective partner in reaching the quota:

  • An employee who stays put and decreases in effectiveness throughout the course of the day, or
  • The employee who takes the company-allowed break to clear his head while lifting weights or walking on the treadmill and returns to his seat refreshed and ready to continue working?

Businesses have very little policy in place on how an employee uses a designated lunch or other break time, so why would management offer disdain for the employee who chooses to take a group fitness class at lunch?

And here’s the other consequence of unsupportive management: Not only do employees feel guilty for using their time (yes, it’s their time) that way, but they realize that maintaining good health is not important to their boss. Thus it becomes increasingly difficult for the employee to keep that as a personal and professional priority.

So how do we turn this cultural challenge around? I wish I had all the right answers. But I think the fixes for this situation are as unique as the client environment, and your ability to nudge this kind of change requires creativity and tremendous amounts of persistence. Cultural change is indeed slow, and very hard. But when an organization figures out its priorities for the business, and they include supporting wellbeing for the employees, you have a lot of opportunity to creatively help individuals move more.

We worked hard in one client setting with a high percentage of call-center employees to turn around middle management’s image that the employees absolutely and without exception HAD to be on the phones. Through a program that, ironically, was not based in their corporate fitness center, we were able to help employees get up and moving on a more regular basis. In fact, in the first four months of this program, 33 percent more participants reported walking at work at least five times per week. We had such fantastic results with this program, we wrote an eBook about it called The Cure for Sitting Disease.

Employees Who Most Need to Use the Corporate Fitness Center Are Often the Most Intimidated by It

This intimidation issue is at the heart of what NIFS does. We’re a fitness center management organization that specializes in placing amazing staff in our clients’ corporate fitness centers to run the operation. The first step to breaking down a barrier of intimidation is having the right people on board to assist any of your employees. Your fitness staff needs to possess a unique blend of compassion and desire to work with everyone, along with technical expertise for prescribing and teaching exercise.

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

 

And then, with the right motivated fitness specialists in your fitness center, you can start to build programs that work. Personal Fitness Quest is a positive example of such a program opportunity geared toward individual members who need the most support. We call it our alternative to personal training, and it continues to be one of the most popular offerings we have across our client sites. Skeletone is another successful program, though unlike Personal Fitness Quest, it’s geared more toward the whole membership audience as we set up stepwise inspiration for them to be more active in the fitness center. For the duration of this program, we increased monthly visits by 23 percent over the previous month and saw a whopping 40 percent increase in active members who attended the fitness center at least eight times or more compared with the preceding month.

Another strategy for overcoming the intimidation issue is to understand it better, and surveys can be a helpful information-gathering tool for this purpose. Sometimes, members will simply offer their feedback, but you probably have a whole crew of employees who haven’t come through the doors in a while (some of whom stay away because they feel intimidated) and who aren’t likely to walk right in offering why they’ve stayed clear of the fitness center. Surveys—when used carefully—can be a great tool for continuous feedback about areas for improvement.

Guilt and intimidation aren’t easy issues to tackle, but they clearly get in the way of employees’ success with exercising regularly at work. What have you tried with success at your office to break down these typical barriers? I’d love to hear about your experiences with these concepts (personally and professionally) because we can all learn and do better with dialog that is truthful and solution-based.

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness centers productivity what if

Corporate Fitness: Free Workout Friday, Utilizing your Bodyweight

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Bodyweight exercises are trending in 2015.  If you missed last week go back and check it out.  Now it's time to crank up your bodyweight workout from last week? We have another workout for you. Before you begin this workout, make sure your form and technique for each exercise is correct first. You want to get a good workout in while avoiding injuries. Watch the video for correct form and technique.

Instructions: Complete 3 sets of each exercise with a 30 to 60 second rest in between sets.

Workout

  1. 20 jump squats
  2. 15 burpees
  3. 10 broad jumps w/ squat thrusts
  4. 15 downdog push-ups
  5. 10 tricep dips w/ leg extensions
  6. 60 sec plank
  7. 15 single leg squats (both right and left sides)
  8. 60 sec bridge march

It's importatnt to stay hydrated when working out. Make sure your water bottle is close by; you’ll need it!

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Topics: Free Workout Friday employee health and fitness

75 year old resident with Parkinson's steps up to the challenge

This is the story of a man, who by all accounts, has received a challenging diagnosis, and who, by any standards, could have slowed down years ago.  But he hasn't, and instead, he's overcoming his health challenges to help patients at Lurie's Children's hospital through the Aon Step Up For Kids fundraiser.

Larry Pirovano, a resident at The Clare, in downtown Chicago has been working with his NIFS personal trainer, Zach DeCoster to accomplish the stair climb challenge that required more than 1,600 steps.  We've got his amazing stats below as well as a video from a local NBC affilate who profiled his inspiring story.

  • On January 25, 2015, Larry and Zach climbed 80 flights of stairs in the Aon Center in 50 minutes and 15 seconds.  
  • Larry placed 2nd in his age bracket.
  • He raise the most money of all individual participants and was 16th in total fundraising including all teams and individuals.

 stepping_up

Topics: active aging senior living communities personal trainers

Active Aging: Beating the cold weather blues

The cold weather is here in full force. Not only does it bring snowmen and hot chocolate, but also more aches, pains, and for many, the cold weather blues. It is known that the change of season can cause depressive feelings. Don’t let that happen to you, here are a few tips to get through the cold weather this year feeling your best.

  1. Stay physically active. Regular exercise can help boost both your mood and immune system. There are so many ways to stay active during the winter. Do what it is you enjoy doing most. Whether it is participating in group exercise classes in your community, going to the fitness center on a regular basis, getting in the pool for a swim, or maybe it is walking through the halls. Try to pick an activity that increases your heart rate but allows you to still hold a conversation. This is a great way to monitor your intensity level when working out.
  2. Eat healthy. Winter typically can trigger a “hibernation diet,” one full of sweets and high fat food. Try to avoid that. Eating the proper foods can be beneficial to both the immune system as well as emotional well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids, “the good fats,” have been shown in studies to reduce depression and the associated symptoms. You can consume Omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as walnuts, salmon, and flaxseeds. Vitamin D is also helps boost energy levels. Lastly, remember to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. During the winter it is easy to drink less, but your body still needs water to functional optimally.
  3. Stay involved in your community. Avoid staying alone in your apartment all day. It doesn’t matterseniors_sledding what you choose to do, stay connected because you will benefit both emotionally and psychologically. Consider socializing with a new resident, having dinner with friends, volunteering, taking up a new activity, or joining a club. Keeping yourself busy will fill your days with activities and socialization.
  4. Let the sun in. Keep the blinds open in your apartment and take advantage of the natural heat that the sun produces. Not only does the warmth feel great, but sunlight is a free mood enhancer. Sunlight encourages our body to produce Vitamin D, which can control feelings of satisfaction. The sunlight also regulates our melatonin and serotonin hormones. These are chemicals that the brain releases to control mood.
  5. Embrace the season. Winter might not be your favorite season, but do your best to accept and enjoy the beauty of what it brings. Try to avoid talking and thinking negatively about it as much as possible, and encourage others to do the same. Researchers say that positive thinkers are often healthier and less stressed.

Making just a few small changes can end up helping you immensely; start incorporating them into your current lifestyle today to see for yourself. Spring flowers and summer nights will be here before you know it, but for now, enjoy the winter!

Check out this blog post about wellness and how it's not just exercise, it's multi dimensional.

Topics: active aging cold weather exercise

Free Workout Friday: Use your own body weight

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Looking for a relatively simple workout? Try a workout that only uses your body weight as the resistance. It’s nice because you don’t need to know how to lift heavy weights to begin. You will let gravity be your friend (or foe, it will seem like during the workout). You can use your bodyweight to do any exercise that will work most of the major muscle groups. Actually, it’s recommended to start with just your body weight until you get the mechanics of the exercise then to add weights as you progress. The great part about body weight workouts is you don’t need a gym to do the workout; just yourself and adequate space. Take a look below for a fun, basic, bodyweight workout:

Instructions: Perform 2 to 3 sets of 10-15 reps for the following exercises. You can rest for about 30 seconds in between each set you complete.

Workout

  1. Squat
  2. Mountain Climbers or Knee Tucks (slower version of Mt. Climbers)*
  3. Alternating Reverse Lunges*
  4. Push-ups
  5. High Knees*
  6. Tricep Dips
  7. Glute Bridge
  8. Superman

Don’t forget to add your favorite music to your workout! It makes it more fun. Check out this previous blog post about using music to move more!

*=R and L leg count as 1 rep

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Topics: exercise at work Free Workout Friday

Corporate Wellness: Learn what you can do to prevent heart disease

Let’s begin by asking a generalized question - How familiar are you with your heart and its functionality? February is Heart Disease Awareness month, but spreading awareness about the disease is not only limited to this specific month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., which is an umbrella term that includes atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems. Heart disease can affect a person of any age, so learning about prevention tips and implementing them into your life can be beneficial.

Although we lack the power to change some risk factors, we can start by making small life choices like a healthy eating plan and being more physically active. The American Heart Association breaks down prevention tips by age groups.  See where you fall and what you need to being doing to help reduce your risk for heart disease.

heart_healthIn your 20’s:

  • Have regular wellness exams
  • Be physically active
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke

In your 30’s:

  • Make heart healthy living a family affair
  • Know your family history
  • Tame your stress

In your 40’s:

  • Watch your weight
  • Have your blood pressure checked
  • Don’t brush off snoring (sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke)

In your 50’s:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke
  • Follow your treatment plan

In your 60’s and beyond:

  • Have an ankle-brachial test
  • Watch your weight
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke

The bottom line is to change your unhealthy behaviors - clean up your dietary patterns, get active, and don’t put off your necessary doctor appointments. The risk of heart disease increases as you age, so the earlier you are aware, the better.

The staff in your corporate fitness center would be more than happy to help you get started with an exercise routine and are available for consultations. They are there to help and guide you, as well as get you familiarized with what is offered in your fitness center. These are just the basic guidelines to a happy and healthy heart!

The first Friday in the month of February is National Wear Red Day. Help bring awareness by wearing red to show your support.

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Topics: employee health heart disease heart healthy