Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Personal Fitness Quest Program Participant: Cheryl Kussow

members_speak.jpgNIFS would like to highlight Cheryl Kussow, who recently completed NIFS Personal Fitness Quest program at one of our client sites. This program takes new members through a goal-setting session, pre- and post-fitness assessment, and 8 weeks of one-on-one training sessions with an Exercise Specialist. These sessions are focused on tailoring their experience to meet their specific goals and lifestyle to pave the best path forward when beginning their exercise program in their corporate fitness facility.

Read about how Cheryl has benefited from the Personal Fitness Quest through improvement in her overall health and fitness level, managing her injuries during exercise, and perhaps the most impressive feat of crossing the finish line in her recent 30-mile benefit hike!

SHARE YOUR “STORY” OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I recently went back to work as a Computer System Validation Specialist and Project Manager after being home for many years with my children and working in a nonprofit. Going back to work full time was a new challenge as I tried to balance my work, family, friends, and fitness. Unfortunately, my fitness took the biggest hit.

However, I would not have traded that time at home as 4.5 years ago, my then 12-year-old son was diagnosed with Wilms kidney cancer. His life was saved through sports, strangely enough, as a hit in the side with a lacrosse stick sent us for a revealing CAT scan that identified this unknown tumor. Through surgery and chemo, my son Seth used his dedication and willpower he learned in sports to get through this difficult time. In fact, a Make-a-Wish trip to the Pro Bowl was one of the biggest motivations that kept his spirits up (and meeting a bunch of Packers and Colts players!).

Sports were the center of his life, and I decided that fitness needed to take a stronger priority in mine too, so I could continue to enjoy my family and all of the fun family hiking/camping vacations around the USA we took. My husband and I also made a commitment to raising money, not only for Make-a-Wish but also for CureSearch, which provides funding for pediatric cancer research and resources for families. To do this, we signed up for the CureSearch Ultimate Hike, a one-day, 30-mile hike on the Tecumseh Trail in southern Indiana (and other sites around the USA), blending both goals together. October 3 was hike day, and I had some work to do to get in shape!

WHY DID YOU JOIN THIS PROGRAM?

As I mentioned above, I wanted to improve my fitness for myself and to prepare for a long hike. I was walking 9 miles a week and doing some cardio classes, but did not feel that would be sufficient. One of my main goals was to incorporate more strength training. I have always felt less confident in doing strength training—knowing the best exercises, how to do them correctly, and knowing how much weight to use. Often at other gyms I previously attended, the cost was prohibitive or the trainers were very critical and viewed you as “unfit” if you were not in super shape or thin. Stephanie created a great positive atmosphere to reach my goals through personal training.

WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE PROGRAM?

First, Stephanie, my trainer, did a great job in understanding my goals—specifically that I wanted to successfully hike 30 miles in one day and get stronger, but also that I had a few injuries to work around, too. She modified exercises as needed and really worked with me to improve my weaker areas, especially ones related to hiking long distances and up and down hills. One of the best parts about working with her, though, was I felt I made a new friend, too, in our conversations during training. Even though I am done officially training with her, I can ask her for help when I am working out in the gym; she has encouraged me to try other classes, keeps me accountable when she hasn’t seen me, and even can tell when I may need to modify an exercise if I am struggling. It is great not to feel judged or silly asking questions about how to use a particular piece of equipment. She is very patient and explains exercises well.

WHAT DID YOU ACCOMPLISH DURING THE PROGRAM?

During the program and the training I did on my own, I improved my fitness greatly as evidenced by my improved strength, weight (15 pounds) and inches lost, balance, and ankle and core stability. I also felt it helped me reduce my stress and make healthier food choices. I felt that I could be fit and full of energy.

Of course the huge goal I had set with my husband was also achieved. Hiking 30 miles in 14 hours on a hilly trail in the dark, cold, and rain for much of the day was a challenge but a success. We also raised over $5,600 personally, and the hike as a whole raised over $90,000 for pediatric cancer. It was incredibly emotional, inspirational, and spiritual (and, well, occasionally painful!) event, although I recovered quickly after the hike.

My knee did start bothering me going down hills for some time in the middle and I slowed down quite a lot, but I was determined to finish. Advil, adrenaline, conditioned muscles, and the power of prayer kicked in, and all of a sudden I was pain free and started booking. I just had to think about the moms on the hike who had lost children to cancer, or I thought about God’s blessing of my son Seth’s survival and how he powered through all he had to endure. Had you asked me before, though, if I would have ever thought I could hike that far, I don’t think I would have had that confidence without the training and encouragement I received by participating in this program. It is amazing that through training and hiking, my new friends and I were able to help fund critical cancer research and get in shape too!

HOW DID THE PROGRAM HELP YOU TO STAY MOTIVATED?

Having a time set every week to meet and exercise was critical as I find that accountability very important for my motivation. In fact, now that we don’t have our regularly scheduled time as my eight sessions are up, I have to find some other ways to make sure I don’t push the commitment away. Luckily the gym has also had a few other mini incentive programs to help keep us active, and I have also had a chance to meet others in the gym, which helps. I like having that social interaction. Having someone to work out with you either as a trainer coaching you individually or with others in a class keeps me working hard (It would be way too easy to give up if I was on my own!).

ANY OTHER THOUGHTS YOU WISH TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE?

I encourage everyone to set goals in both your life and your fitness plans and seek others to help you on that journey to wellness. The blessings of strength you can gain can then be used as a blessing to others!

~ Cheryl Kussow

Interested in how you can do better in your corporate fitness center? Download our quick read for three tips for a successful corporate fitness center for your employees.

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Topics: corporate fitness walking motivation NIFS accountability Personal Fitness Quest personal training

NIFS Health Coach Gets “Shamed” over Her Nutrition Choices

ThinkstockPhotos-147092372.jpgThe other day I went out to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s recent work promotion. Being a health-conscious person, I ordered grilled chicken and a salad with a small glass of wine. As I handed my menu to the waiter, my friends commented about how I didn’t “need a salad” and that I should “eat what I want” because I exercise enough.

I laughed off the comments and said I was trying real hard to practice what I preached (they all know I am a health coach, after all). Plus, if I wanted a cheeseburger and fries, I would order them. Everything in moderation, right?

Dessert: A Food-Choice Hot Button

When it came time for dessert, the conversation quickly turned to questions about who was going to order what. Maybe I was feeling a little sensitive because of the comments about my earlier food choices, but it seemed like my friends were looking for validation rather than simply wanting to know what my dessert of choice would be. I ordered a small sundae, not because I wanted something sweet, but because I didn’t want to seem like the odd one out.

Toward the end of the meal, one of them pointed out that I had only a few bites of my sundae and declared I was “making her feel terrible” for eating cheesecake. This seemed to open the floodgates for the rest of my friends, who were apparently thinking along the same lines:

“A piece of cake won’t kill you!” 

“Look at you being all healthy and stuff.”

“Are you trying to show us up?”

“Don’t you want to have a good time with us?”

“You’re making us all look fat!”

“You used to be way more fun!”

The comments persisted. Other dessert plates were pushed toward me. More wine poured in my glass to help me “relax” and “enjoy myself for once.” I stood my ground, saying I felt full; but looking back, it’s hard to tell if I was really full or if the conversation had caused me to lose my appetite.

Health Shaming Is Real…and Impacts Motivation

My clients have told me how difficult it can be to make healthy choices when your family and loved ones don’t have similar nutrition and fitness goals, but I had never experienced that type of peer pressure or “health shaming” until this night.

Skinny shaming…fat shaminghealth shaming…how many of you have experienced something like this? How have you responded? How do you make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by people who don’t share your goals?

Related:

NIFS Registered Dietitian shares the top four app for healthier eating, download the quick read below to help you stay on track with your desired choices.  Be proud of your decision to make healthy choices!

DOWNLOAD NOW

 

Topics: nutrition motivation NIFS restaurant healthy eating

Hydration Is Key for Health and Wellness

Quick! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “water”? Is it the beach? Rain? Thirst? How about hydration? Most people have heard that on average the human body is made up of about 60 percent water, but what exactly does that mean? Why is water so important to the human body? Well, let’s look at the facts.

ThinkstockPhotos-119492687.jpgWhy You Need to Drink Water

Water plays several important roles in the human body.

  • Water regulates body temperature through sweating and respiration. It helps to lubricate the joints for movement.
  • Water carries oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to various body parts for adequate functioning, and removes toxins and waste.
  • Water especially helps to maintain regularity of the bowels and prevents unwanted body aches and conditions such as heartburn, migraines, ulcers, kidney stones, and backaches.

Consuming adequate amounts of water each day can also help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as reduce cholesterol levels. How? Well, the more water you drink throughout the day, the more fluid leaves your blood vessels. When this happens, your blood vessels are able to relax. When the vessels relax and dilate, a decrease in blood pressure occurs. When the blood vessels remain relaxed and pressure lowers, the risk for other serious cardiovascular conditions decreases as well. Reduction in blood pressure specifically helps to decrease the risk of stroke and heart attack.

How Much Water Does a Person Need?

With all of these different body systems relying on water to help them run optimally, how do you make sure you are consuming enough? Recommendations vary on this topic, but remember that water comes from more than just the bottle we drink throughout the day. It is believed that about 80 percent of water intake comes from drinking, and the other 20 percent comes from the food you consume throughout the day. The most recent recommendations suggest that women should consume 9 cups and men 12.5 cups of total beverages each day for optimum hydration.

Considerations That Affect Hydration

So you know why you need water and how much, but what factors affect hydration changes besides how much you consume? Additional considerations relating to hydration include your physical activity level, current health state (such as if you have a cold or flu), heat, and humidity. Sweating during activity is your body’s way of maintaining an adequate temperature. If you are working out and sweating, your body is losing water. So remember to hydrate before, during, and after a workout. If you feel ill and experience a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, fluid intake should also increase to prevent dehydration. Lastly, be aware of your environment and how you feel. If you become uncomfortably warm or are exercising in hot or humid climates, be sure to consume above-average amounts of water. 

Water’s Role in Weight Loss

Lastly, water works with your metabolism to help with weight maintenance. If you are hungry, drink a glass of water. If your body is lacking water, thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger. Increasing your water consumption can help contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan while providing your body with the many elements it needs to survive.

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Topics: weight loss hydration water disease prevention health wellness high blood pressure

What Exercises Should I Do?: Guidelines for Senior Fitness (Part 4)

In my first, second, and third blogs of the series, I went over five of my guidelines to being successful in senior fitness:

  1. Muscle-Activation Exercises
  2. Simplistic Exercises
  3. Compound, Multi-joint, Closed-chain Movements
  4. Grip Exercises
  5. Mobility Work
In this fourth and final blog of the series, I discuss one more guideline:

Don't Change Exercises; Change the Intangibles and Variables of the Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-95247776.jpgCertain exercises, such as the sit-to-stand and the seated row, should always be performed in one's routine. Certain experts recommend that one would eventually replace these exercises with a new one. The reasoning behind this is that it is believed that over time the muscles will grow accustomed to certain exercises and the effect will be lost. While this is slightly true, it's not true because of the exercise itself, but rather the variables of the exercise, such as the sets, reps, rest periods, tempo, etc.

By changing these variables, the CCRC resdient client will always have results and will continue to perform exercises that work the entire body in unison, such as the exercises in the preceding blogs. As a result, they will increase their performance in the daily activities of life.

After all, the more something is changed, the less that person will be good at it. If you want to get good at throwing a ball, you spend your time throwing a ball and not catching a ball. Well, the concept is the same with exercise. Constantly changing the exercises on someone will possibly give them results, but the question isn’t, "Is this person getting results?" Rather, the question is, "Is this the best way to do it?"

So, constantly changing the exercises may elicit a result, but we are looking for the best results; therefore, mastering and being consistent with basic, compound, multi-joint, closed-chain movements will help gain strength, increase lean muscle weight, increase mobility, work the body in unison, increase neurological activation, and lead to greater overall success.

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Topics: CCRC balance senior fitness change mobility exercises grip

Residents Expect More from Senior Living Community Exercise Programs

ThinkstockPhotos-535515241.jpgI got a call from a resident of a senior living community the other day. She told me that she’d been thinking about how her community could do better with the exercise program it offers. She saw a lot of potential to build on already successful offerings, and she’d been working with a resident team on this idea. Over the last several weeks, she’d been all over our website and decided it was time to talk about how we might be able to support her team’s goal to report on options to improve the community’s exercise program.

This woman was sharp! She had a good understanding about what was available to them, what was working, and where they needed to progress. Specifically, she told me that the classes were well liked and that didn’t necessarily need a change, but she also noted these common issues:

  • The pool is largely empty except for the regularly scheduled water aerobics classes.
  • The fitness center is typically unused because residents don’t feel like they know how to use the equipment to their benefit.

She had grabbed our quick read on how to grow participation in your aquatics program, and that’s when it hit her: she knew it all came back to staffing—that having qualified fitness staff running the community’s exercise program was central to its success.

Your Current Residents Expect More—and They’re Telling Their Friends

So if you’ve been focused on other competing priorities at your community and the exercise program is an afterthought running quietly in the background, now would be a good time to give it a second look. Because your residents are already doing that; and you can bet that if your current residents have a radar for what’s possible, your prospects do, too.

Sometimes there’s a hurdle in understanding just what a fitness center manager should be doing. I suppose that varies by community, but for a staffing organization like ours, we have clear expectations and supports for how NIFS staff spend their time in our client’s fitness centers

Maybe you think this kind of astute observation by residents isn’t happening at your community. That might be true, but before you make that assumption, consider how the resident with whom I spoke shared her observations with a prospective resident.

She told me that she had invited a friend to dine with her recently who was not a resident of the community but who was shopping for a senior living environment he could call home. He asked her if there was anything negative about living there. She said she couldn’t come up with negatives (which is great!), but then she told him about how they could do better with their exercise program (which is not so great).

And this isn’t the first conversation I’ve had like this where a resident found our organization and reached out to see whether and how we could help.

Review Your Wellness Programs as Well as Fitness

For what it’s worth, your entire wellness initiative may need a review—it’s rare to have a strong exercise program and a weak holistic wellness offering. It’s also unusual to have your holistic wellness program be strong while your exercise program suffers. Wellness and fitness go hand in hand.

If you’ve been waiting to address your exercise program until the residents complain, it’s time. Begin your investigation on possibilities by downloading our quick read below designed to help you quickly evaluate your overall wellness program. It highlights some broader wellness areas as well as specific exercise program components. Share it with your team and start a conversation about how to do wellness better in your community.

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Topics: senior wellness senior living senior fitness senior living community resident wellness programs exercise program

Tips for an Effective Exercise Program

ThinkstockPhotos-497351161.jpgYou know you want and need to have a regular plan for your exercise, but where do you begin to
 develop an exercise program? Here are my best tips for creating a workout regimen that will work for you whether you are in your corporate fitness center, or at home and on the go.

Setting Goals

Setting goals establishes a justifiable reason for consistent exercise. Having a goal in place can also improve commitment and has been shown to improve adherence to programs and routines. The SMART system was designed as an acronym to help with goal setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Ideally, established goals should be characterized by these five words. Following the SMART guideline can improve the chances that you will achieve your goals.

The Mind-Muscle Connection

When it comes to resistance exercise, building muscle and strength is about much more than going through the motions. As you would imagine, concentration is an important part of achieving any goal, and focused concentration becomes even more important during resistance training. This focused concentration during weightlifting is the mind-muscle connection, and refers to contracting or tensing a muscle not only through physical movement, but also through thought. An example of someone incorporating the mind-muscle connection would be an individual performing a biceps curl and focusing their concentration on slowly flexing the elbow joint using the biceps muscle, as opposed to just going through the movement.

Variety

Whether speaking about aerobic capacity, muscular strength, or muscular endurance, fitness is all about adaptation. For example, the heart eventually adapts to aerobic exercise when it is performed consistently, and it begins to pump blood and oxygen more efficiently. Muscles adapt to strength/resistance training by recruiting more muscle fibers and possibly splitting the fibers to form new muscle cells. However, physiological adaptations do not always yield positive results, which is why variety plays an important role.

Adaptation to a particular exercise also translates to less calories burned performing that exercise, because just as the heart has become more efficient at pumping blood, the metabolism has become more efficient with burning calories. To avoid this, it is important to perform a variety of different exercises targeting different muscles and muscle groups. Doing so will not only prevent imbalances, but also ensure that all sections of a muscle get adequate stimulation.

Nutrition

There’s a well-known saying in the fitness industry along the lines of, “Abs are made in the kitchen”—referring to the well-tested theory that nutrition plays a larger role in muscle definition than exercise itself. But this phrase can be applied to more than just the aesthetic appeal of defined abdominals. Eating habits play an important role in achieving fitness results, whether these habits refer to the amount, quality, or time that food is consumed. Muscles require nourishment through food, along with adequate protein and carbohydrates to rebuild in the recovery after a workout.

Group Fitness or Personal Training

Getting up and getting moving is said to be the hardest part of staying active, but sometimes more guidance is required in order to stick with a healthy routine. Luckily, there are options for those who need a more structured and supportive environment to stay active. Your corporate fitness center may offer group fitness classes Monday through Friday at varying times, and these can be a great way to incorporate exercise and social time into your day. Personal training is a great option for those who prefer more detailed, hands-on instruction when performing exercise.  Be cautious when hiring a trainer and that they are qualified professionals.  

Looking to have a fitness professional onsite at your corporate office?  NIFS Fitness Management hires degreed, qualified staff to provide NIFS services at our client sites.  Click below for more on how we find great staff.

How we find great staff


Topics: nutrition NIFS goal setting group fitness exercise program muscles weightlifting recovery protein carbohydrates personal training