Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Senior Living: Questions to Ask Before Buying Fitness Equipment


ThinkstockPhotos-97770391-1.jpgThere are a lot of news releases lately outlining new construction or expansion projects in senior living. Many of those projects include outfitting a brand new or dramatically overhauled community fitness center.

Because the construction projects are typically significant and encompass more space than just a fitness center, it’s easy to get lost in the details about treadmill features when you need to answer questions about flooring, HVAC demands, city permits, and more. And even within the four walls of the senior fitness center, there are several other things to be concerned about beyond simply selecting the equipment. For more on that, check out our blog on 5 things to avoid when building a fitness center for senior living communities.

In order to help you head off potential dilemmas specifically around what exercise equipment might be best for your resident fitness center, this blog outlines some of the key questions to ask before buying fitness equipment. These aren’t meant to be comprehensive, but they should provide a solid starting point to get to the bottom of determining what’s best for your residents. As you’re working with the reps, make sure you’re clear about the age and ability level of your intended user. The same is true if you want to send out residents to test equipment at a local gym (sales reps may offer this). Make sure you send residents who are a good representation of those you expect will use your updated fitness amenities.

And one last note before you dive into the questions. We do not sell any exercise equipment, nor do we receive any benefit from equipment manufacturers. These questions are based purely on our years of experience helping clients design and equip their fitness centers for a range of audiences.

Strength Equipment

It comes in a lot of shapes and sizes.

  • Pneumatic: An air compressor regulates the amount of pressure against which the user works.
  • Selectorized: Plate adjusted, with the user pulling out and reinserting a pin for the desired weight.
  • Band technology: Weights are replaced with bands used as pulleys to generate resistance.
  • Body resistance: The user works against his or her own body weight (and gravity) to generate a workload.

When it comes to thinking through questions for your sales reps, consider these:

  • How is the resistance adjusted by the user?
  • What is the starting weight for each piece and can that be lowered in our order if our population needs that?
  • Are the seat heights, leg positions, seat backs, etc. adjustable per user? If so, how are they adjusted?
  • Is there any other equipment I need to purchase to make your equipment fully functional for us? (Some equipment requires a computer, other equipment requires a compressor, etc.).
  • What is the warranty on the equipment?
  • (When the equipment comes with a software component…) Do you provide training to our onsite staff to learn how to make the best use of your software? Do you offer technical support?

Cardiovascular Equipment

In general, your fitness facility should have a range of cardiovascular equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent cross-trainers (think NuStep or a similar product), and bikes. In some cases, we’ve seen rowing machines included, too. (They provide a great workout; we’re just not sure it’s an ideal piece for most residents.)

Some basic questions are true for each type of cardiovascular equipment:

  • What’s the warranty?
  • Who is the warranty-certified repair company in our area?
  • What are the power needs for this piece?
  • Can I see the detailed screen of the computer console? (You’ll want to see how user-friendly it is for your audience.)
  • Does it connect with any wearable technology, or can we opt for an interactive console?
  • If we don’t elect an interactive console now, can we change them out later?

Treadmills

  • What’s the step height on your treadmills?
  • What’s the starting speed?
  • Does the unit decline or only incline?

Ellipticals

  • Is the piece rear- or side-entry?
  • What is the clearance threshold or step height to access the piece?
  • Does it come with stationary arms?
  • Does the elliptical require external power? If not, (1) ask what the starting wattage requirement is, and (2) ask if there is an optional AC adapter. If no adapter is available, note that we’ve found anything requiring a starting wattage higher than about 15W is too difficult for many residents to power.

Bikes

You’ll want to consider traditional upright bikes and recumbent bikes. Matrix offers a hybrid bike that presents an interesting option as well.

  • Do you have an upright bike with a pass-through design?
  • Does the bike require external power? If not, (1) ask what the starting wattage requirement is, and (2) ask if there is an optional AC adapter. If no adapter is available, note that we’ve found anything requiring a starting wattage higher than about 15W is too difficult for many residents to power.

General Questions

These are general questions to ask any vendor regardless of the type of equipment you’re considering buying.

  • What’s the primary market your company serves? (Ask for clarity in sales volume.)
  • Can I talk to a practitioner who has used your equipment with an 85+-year-old population?

This last round of questions has nothing to do with the function of the equipment for the residents. It’s really focused on details for your overall fitness program and the role the equipment plays in your fitness center, which should be a hallmark space in the community.

  • Can I customize colors on frame and upholstery (for strength equipment) to match our brand?
  • Are you able/willing to customize your equipment with our logo?

You’re making a significant investment by building a new fitness center or overhauling your current community fitness space. Make sure you get the right equipment to increase the chances for a vibrant and successful fitness program that will support this generation of residents and the next. These questions will help guide and inform your decisions, but if you want additional support from a partner who does this for a living, click on the button below to learn more about how we can consult for you.

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

 

Topics: nifs fitness management CCRC fitness center resident wellness programs fitness center for seniors

Avoid an Empty Corporate Fitness Center with These Ideas

B130001.jpgThere are a variety of reasons for you, as a business owner, to set up a corporate fitness center for your employees; employee recruitment and retention are certainly among them. Increasingly, access to some form of exercise at work is becoming an expectation. It’s also not unreasonable to build a corporate fitness center because you actually expect it will help your employees be more active, which can lead to a variety of individual health benefits and possibly some productivity and loyalty benefits for the business.

But establishing a corporate fitness center for your employees is not an “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon. After all, only about 15–17% of the U.S. population owns a gym membership. If you want your employees to have opportunities to exercise, dedicating some space on campus for exercise is a good first step, but it’s not the end of the story. Following is a checklist of steps you need to carefully consider to avoid an empty corporate fitness center and ensure your fitness center is set up for success, both for your business and for your employees.

Do you have the right collection of equipment and amenities in your fitness center?

I've seen corporate fitness centers that run the gamut from fairly bare-bones to spaces that would rival high-end clubs. Fancy matters much less than function. If you don't intend to provide expert staff in the space, you need to have equipment that your employees can use without instruction. Some of the newer functional training equipment isn't all that intuitive; be careful what you buy or only the most sophisticated exerciser will be able to put your equipment to effective use.

If you want to offer group fitness classes in your space, you'll need to have enough room to host the classes; consider 40–60SF per participant (don't forget to count the instructor!). Also keep in mind that your classes will increase volume in the fitness center and you'll want your locker room spaces to accommodate those peak-use times fairly well. With 28 years in the business, I can assure you that employees will stop coming if the locker room situation involves fighting for space.

Do you have the right leadership for the corporate fitness space/programs?

The single best way to maximize employee use of your corporate fitness center is to provide staff who manage the environment. Yes, there is a cost for that, but before you assume you don't want to pay it, consider the ramifications because here's how it plays out. Without staff to support and educate employees, the same 10% of your employees who exercise now are the ones who will use your fitness center. And the employees you're really trying to serve won't try something new in your corporate fitness space because they aren't sure what steps to take.

So committing to the fitness center space but not the fitness center staffing is building a gym for the employees who are exercising anyway. That's a pretty substantial investment for the employees who don't really stand to benefit from it.

Finding the right corporate fitness management partner doesn't have to be hard, and before you assume hiring out for that role is a horrible idea, check out this blog that addresses common misconceptions on outsourcing corporate fitness management. If you're still convinced your business is better off managing your fitness program in house, here are some suggestions for hiring your own corporate fitness manager.

Do you have a healthy culture that supports employees choosing to exercise during their time at work?

Employees spend more time commuting to and from work and actually at work than they spend anyplace else. Inviting them to exercise while they're already at the office may be our best hope for helping adults move more. But if taking a full 60-minute lunch break to work out is frowned upon by management, your corporate fitness center will stay mostly empty. If employees don't see their leadership making healthy choices a priority, your fitness center will remain a ghost town. It's not enough to have "break-time" policies written into your handbook. You have to lead by example and you have to make it okay for your management team to engage in the behaviors you want to see.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: corporate fitness corporate fitness managment health culture nifs fitness center management equipment staffing corporate fitness center

Weight Loss: Take It Off, Keep It Off!

I love what I do—seeing people succeed with their weight-loss goals is one of the most rewarding feelings as a dietitian. However, it can also be very challenging when I see clients revert back to old habits and struggle to keep the weight off that they worked so hard to remove.

ThinkstockPhotos-527497433.jpgBest Weight-Loss Techniques

After checking out some research of highly successful dieters, I have found the best things that can be done to keep the weight off for good!

  • Keep a food journal. Individuals who keep food logs tend to eat 40% less because they are writing it down. Also, a recent study found women who kept a food journal lost 6 pounds more than those who didn’t. Some excellent online food tracker sites include MyPlate and ChooseMyPlate. Highly rated free apps for your smartphone include My Fitness Pal and Lose It.
  • Practice portion control. As a society, we are terrible at eyeballing portions. The secret to success is consistently measuring food items to make sure you are eating the same amount you are journaling. The simplest way to do this is to use measuring utensils to dish out your meals and associate common items with certain portions. For example, a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards, a baked potato should be the size of a computer mouse, a half cup of pasta is the size of a tennis ball, and a teaspoon of oil is the size of one die (from a pair of dice).
  • Don’t skip meals. Lots of people think if they skip a meal they will be decreasing the total calories they are taking in for the day. In reality, the opposite usually happens. When someone skips a meal, they typically end up overeating at a different time of day to compensate for missing out on the food that their body needed. Also, whenever you skip a meal it makes your metabolism work at a slower rate; and therefore, makes it harder to lose weight. Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is the best way to stay on track.

Set Up a Personalized Nutrition Appointment

The more you follow these rules, the higher your chance of success in keeping off the weight. For more information or to set up an individualized nutrition coaching appointment, contact me at [email protected] or click below for more information.

Find Out More

Topics: nutrition weight loss NIFS portion control nutrition coaching food journals

Fitness Center Staffing, Hiring the Best

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Topics: senior fitness management nifs fitness management staffing staffing corporate fitness management