Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

NIFS | Corporate Fitness ClassNIFS isn't the only agency that provides fitness management expertise to businesses. There are several like us because the market demands it. While many organizations have adopted a DIY attitude about managing their own fitness programs, an additional (and substantial) set of businesses has recognized the value in outsourcing fitness center management for their corporate fitness center or in their senior living community.

We’ve been at this for almost 25 years and I’ve heard a variety of objections to outsourcing fitness staff. I’ve got my own list of objections to those objections...so here we go:

Objection 1: Outsourcing fitness center management is too expensive.

This objection really comes down to a comparison of direct versus indirect employee costs. Working with a partner may be more expensive when you compare wages and benefits you pay your employee with the billing you would get from a partner. The fitness management organization has overhead and a margin they need to earn.

When you look at the cost to hire, train, and supervise an employee, your cost comparison starts to even out. Then throw in the consideration of ongoing training and supervision, potential turnover, and statutory costs related to employees, you may find that partnering with a staffing agency like NIFS provides significant value.

Objection 2: I have no control over the staff person.

I don’t know who you’ve worked with historically, but any organization in this business that doesn’t put service first and foremost is making a gigantic mistake. When you’re working with the right outsourcing partner, that organization should be keenly interested in keeping you, the client, happy. To that end, they should be very interested in your feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the staff they’re providing at your location.

Objection 3: An outsourced staff person won’t have buy-in from our constituents.

For starters, see objection #2. Keep in mind that the only way a staffing agency stays in business is if they have learned to be nimble and highly adaptive to a variety of environments. You can check on a potential outsourcing partner’s flexibility by talking to a variety of references.

When we go to work in senior living settings, we often pair up staffing services with wellness consulting (at no additional cost) so that we can better support the organization and further understand the culture with that client. This understanding is communicated to our staff on the ground so that we’re all operating from the same educated starting point.

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

Objection 4: Fitness isn’t rocket science; we’ve got this.

Okay. You’re right. Fitness isn’t rocket science, and you may very well “have it.” There are a host of highly capable, service-minded, passionate health and fitness professionals out there who are ready to work directly for you. But who has their back?

Who provides them with fresh ideas, resources, direction, and support? Your human resources director? Your activities director? Not likely—unless you’ve somehow hit a gold mine of fitness-educated staff at your business, the fitness manager you employ is probably the only one of his or her kind in your four walls. Outsourcing partners (the best ones, anyway) bring a team of resources, professionals, expertise, and support to the staff member they provide your organization.

Maybe you have other objections I can address. If so, leave them in the comments below. On the other hand, if I’ve just addressed your objections and you’re ready to start looking at outsourcing partners, drop me a line, or take a closer look at us through the rest of our blog. If your business has to move through an RFP process, you might want to read what I wrote on my top 10 RFP questions for corporate fitness management.

CORPORATE FITNESS STAFFING ›SENIOR LIVING FITNESS STAFFING ›

 

Topics: worksite wellness nifs fitness management NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment employee health and fitness corporate wellness staffing wellness consulting outsourcing fitness managment

Positive Thinking and How Attitude Affects Your Wellness Goals

ThinkstockPhotos-506910700.jpgThe second you tell yourself you can’t do something (without even trying), you are not even giving yourself a chance. It blocks you mentally from wanting to do something out of your comfort zone. When you have a negative thought of “I can’t” or “I won’t,” you aren’t even giving yourself the option to succeed at wellness or anything else.

Working Instead of Wishing

Of course, you can’t just “wish” for something to happen; you need to work for it as well. But telling yourself that you are capable gives you a push to believe in yourself and overcome any fears involved. Positive thinking and emotions broaden your horizons and open your mind to new options. They help you see the bigger picture, which in turn gives you multiple paths to reach your overall goal.

Positive Thinking Helps You Build Skills

Regardless of your situation, you can always make the most of what is given to you. You can improve the quality of your experiences even if you can’t change the situation. This is where positive thoughts come into play. Positive thinking is more than just being happy. This attitude adds value to your life by helping you build skills that move you forward. A negative emotion narrows your thought process and closes you off to other opportunities that surround you.  Consider how attitude affects your wellness goals, below are some ways to to switch your mindset.

How to Be More Positive

Focus on meditation, journaling, and enjoyment.

  • Meditation: Meditation quiets the mind and helps you focus on the task at hand. You will want to sit comfortably and focus on breathing smoothly and calmly. Imagine a path you are walking and make positive statements along the way. If a negative one pops into your mind, acknowledge it, correct it, and move on. Make sure to continue to focus on your breathing. This can also help relieve stress and anxiety, so it can be done on a daily basis, whether in the morning to start your day or at the end to relieve any tension.
  • Journaling: By writing out your thoughts, or journaling, you can make yourself accountable for your goals by putting it in print. This accountability makes the tasks a bit more real, and you may work harder to make it happen. You can list the steps you want to take to reach the end result and what roadblocks might get in the way, and then set dates for when you want to achieve these goals. Most importantly, you can write down positive statements like “I will” or “I can” to keep you motivated. You can also write down what you are thankful for in your life at that moment. At the end of each day, write down three things that went well, even if you had a rough day. This helps you focus on the good rather than the bad.
  • Enjoyment: Enjoyment is a bit different from meditation and journaling. This is about doing things that make you happy during the process of reaching your goals, but that might not be related to them. For example, your goal may be to work toward a promotion at work, but you really enjoy having time with your family. If you are working a few more hours during the week, make sure to schedule a fun activity, like going to the zoo, on the weekend and leave your work phone at home. If you don’t mix in quality time for enjoyment of what makes you happy, you will stop working toward your goals because you will feel it’s hurting you rather than helping you.

Be happy regardless of goal achievement. Just because you didn’t get chosen for a promotion or you missed a workout doesn’t mean your worth is lessened. It just means you are meant to do something different or that you need to change your plan of action and try something new. At the end of the day, you need to love where you are in life and desire to make improvements. So think positively and give yourself a chance.

Looking to better your wellness or fitness program for employees?  Download our whitepaper for ideas that will help you implement change, click below to recieve a copy.

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Topics: goals wellness attitude positive thinking

Why Employee Purpose Could Be the Heart of Corporate Wellness

ThinkstockPhotos-492012688.jpgI know... "purpose" for your employees sounds all New Age-y or like some wellness vendor ploy to not have to put up numbers for a client. But the truth is, there is quite a bit of science behind the health benefits of individuals living with a sense of purpose. In fact, scientists attribute better pain management, longevity, and slower rates of cognitive decline to a sense of purpose in adults. For an outline of some of the research-based findings of the benefits of purpose, check out this article.

If you believe the research, you're left with a question about how to put it into practice. The answer may lie in understanding what you want for your employees. Sometimes genuine care and concern for employee well-being is the starting point for building a corporate wellness program, but it's easy to lose sight of that initial impetus, and very quickly the focus becomes the search for elusive metrics (and unicorns).

So maybe it's time to put the employees front and center (again) and make them the heart of corporate wellness. Here are some simple ways you can do that with purpose at the core of what you offer in your programming:

  • Allow for volunteering: There are health benefits for individuals who volunteer on a regular basis. But with the schedules we keep (much of which is tied up in demands for our jobs), who has time to give back? Employers can make it a little easier for employees to make their world a better place by building service days into the PTO policy.
  • Recognize that your staff members are more than who you see at work: Supervisors have a heavy responsibility to build and sustain an engaged workforce. One giant leap toward fostering a positive and healthy work environment that leads to engagement is by supervisors getting to know their employees. I don't mean you have to start hosting happy hours and cookouts. What you can easily start doing, however, is using your one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to listen for what makes your staff tick, and then look for opportunities to speak to those passions.
  • Turn the traditional incentives into incentives to give: Corporate fitness programs are full of incentive programs and challenges that are designed to creatively invite employees to move more for the potential to win some kind of prize at the end of the event. Consider swapping out those traditional program prizes for an opportunity to turn minutes exercising into money for a cause.

Imagine that you're the employee who works for the company that makes good on its promise to deliver all three of the experiences listed above. How do you feel about coming to work? How do you talk about your employer to friends and family? How do you process competitive offers to change jobs when they come your way?

Considering employee purpose as a central pillar in your corporate wellness program isn't just a nice idea; it's the right thing to do for the well-being and motivation of your employees and your business.

Get our whitepaper below for 5 tips to maximize employee engagement in your program.

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Topics: corporate wellness motivation volunteering, incentives employee purpose

Tips for Starting an Exercise Program at an Older Age

According to an article in Psychology Today, one of the major reasons people tend to stop exercising after recently starting an exercise routine is that they do not want to experience discomfort. After reading this article, it made me wonder whether this is the reason some residents are more hesitant than others to incorporate exercise into their everyday lives. Investigating further into this, I had conversations with several residents about this. Some of them mentioned that they have the feeling they might be doing too much, too soon.

[Getting started: What Exercises Should I do?]

ThinkstockPhotos-72459386.jpgWith exercise showing benefits such as improved balance, increased total-body strength, improved cognition, and reduction of chronic illness, it is difficult to understand why people would not exercise. However, there are two reasons why I think this “too much, too soon” judgment could arise in senior fitness: 

  • Your body has not become neuromuscularly adapted to exercise and you are engaging muscle groups that are not commonly utilized in everyday life.
  • The exercise is too strenuous from overtraining, either causing strains in de-conditioned muscle groups, or potential re-injury. You can use this article from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a guide to determine whether you are experiencing overtraining. 

Following are four tips for starting an exercise program at an older age that I provide to residents in my senior living community.  Combat that “too much, too soon” feeling, and ease into the process of adding exercise to their everyday lives without overdoing it.

Monitor How You Are Feeling

A great way of measuring this is to use an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) Scale to measure how hard you feel your body is working. On a scale of 0–10 (with a 0 being at complete rest, and 10 being at highest possible intensity), you should exercise within a 3 or a 4 intensity (at a moderate intensity).

Recording your heart rate after exercise is also an effective measurement of exertion. If you notice after several minutes that your heart rate is not decreasing after exercise, your body is not recovering properly.

Stop exercise if you are experiencing severe bone/joint pain, or sudden pressure in your chest, neck, shoulder, or arms.

Begin Slowly and Gradually Increase Duration/Intensity

If you are new to exercise, start out by scheduling exercises at least 2–3 times per week, for 15–20-minute sessions. As you become more physically adapted to exercise, you could increase your frequency to roughly 4–5 days per week. When you reach a point where you would like to increase your resistance and/or intensity, make sure that you make no more than a 5% increase in one week.

If you have been exercising for a while, don’t hesitate to reduce your workload to re-acclimate your body to the regular routine. This might include coming to an exercise class that is seated rather than standing, or cutting back a few minutes on your daily walk.

Plan Rest Days Accordingly

If you do not give your body the opportunity to rest in between exercise sessions, it will have physiological effects on your nervous system, and potentially develop micro-trauma and overuse injuries. You could also spend your rest and recovery days doing light stretching exercises, or going for a light walk.

Be Patient

It will take at least 3–6 weeks for your body to develop neuromuscular adaptation to exercise, and to achieve long-lasting results.

If you incorporate a slow and steady approach and find that proper balance in your exercise routine, you’ll have a higher rate of success in achieving your exercise goals and avoid a setback. 

Exercise for older adults is about more than just physical fitness, grab our quickread below and read more about the importance of exercise in aging well.

 Download: Why is exercise important for seniors? >

Topics: exercise active aging senior fitness senior living community

Three Tips for Improving Your Corporate Fitness Program

ThinkstockPhotos-186871442.jpgCorporate fitness programs in businesses all across the country have been doing pretty much the same thing, quite possibly for decades. The programs look very different, one from the next, but the basic premise is the same.

  • Employer: "We want you to be healthy. Here's [insert your corporate fitness answer here: a gym membership, group fitness classes, walking paths, an onsite corporate fitness center, etc.] for you to use. Go be active (when you're not working).
  • Employee: "I'd love to start exercising, but I don't know what's safest and most effective for me. Plus, I don't have much time, and clearly, I have work quotas to meet. It's great that the company offers these healthy options, but it doesn't seem like the right fit for me."

Read Now: Why Corporate Fitness Needs to Evolve

There's a real risk in corporate fitness that we only ever reach the folks who would be active regardless of whether there was a corporate fitness program. So the challenge for businesses becomes how to reach employees who are interested in exercising but who don't know where to begin. Get your organization started in the right direction with these three tips for improving your corporate fitness program.

Tip 1: Get the staffing right.

Finding the right staff to support your corporate fitness offerings is crucial to the success of the program. As an organization that provides this very service to businesses all over the country, we’ve written extensively on the topic. It’s no surprise that we think outsourcing your fitness staff is a great choice. However, if your fitness center staffing style is more of a DIY approach, definitely consider the tips in this blog, 3 Tips for Hiring an Active Aging or Corporate Fitness Professional.

Tip 2: Offer the right services.

There are core services that should be in place for a corporate fitness program to be successful:

  • Individual education through exercise prescriptions and fitness assessment and testing is essential. Both of these services, which can easily be provided by your qualified staff, provide a fantastic foundation to the employees who are fence-sitters about exercise—you know, the employees who want to try moving more but who aren't sure how to get started safely. Those are the very same employees you're trying to draw into the program; addressing their concerns and questions with tailored services is a great way to show them that the door to starting an exercise program at work is wide open.

Alternative to Personal Training -- Read More!

  • Incentive programs can help keep the fitness program interesting and are a fantastic way to help employees reach for better health beyond physical fitness. We've written about several of our successful incentives programs; click any of the titles below to find out more.

Employee Wellness Programming Beyond the Corporate Fitness Center

Making Fitness Fun in Corporate Wellness

Increasing Participation with SKELETONE

A Simple Way to Boost Participation in Your Corporate Fitness Center

How a Simple Squat Challenge Improved Corporate Fitness Metrics

Tip 3: Ask the right questions.

Anecdotal feedback and thank-you emails provide periodic indications of whether your fitness staff is on the right track with employees. But there's nothing like concrete bulk survey feedback to help steer a program in the right direction. Sure, there are problems with surveys, but in our decades of experience with managing corporate fitness centers, we increasingly find surveys to be a very helpful tool for setting our management strategy for each client. Here's how we use them:

  • We use them for specific programs to determine whether we're achieving goals with those programs. For more on our evaluation methods, check out this blog: 4 Keys to Getting Wellness Program Data You Can Actually Use.
  • From a program satisfaction standpoint, we've found surveys to be quite helpful as well. While the anonymity of them can sometimes leave our staff open to very negative feedback, the vast majority of responses are constructive and quite helpful for us in determining what our next year of program and service spotlights should be.

Want to learn more about how to make effective use of surveys to improve your corporate fitness program? Download our whitepaper.

Implement surveys to initiate change

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness participation data fitness assessment staffing incentives exercise prescriptions CORP Programs and Services surveys feedback

Additional Resources for Enhancing Your Fitness Program

In parts I and II of this blog series, I discussed why it’s important to cultivate a robust health and fitness program for residents in AL and memory-care environments and how to tap into your existing personnel to make that happen. Perhaps this has already sparked some conversations and goal setting for your community in 2017. If you haven’t done so, consider sharing this blog series with your marketing and sales team.  Get their insights on the value of expanded fitness programming for residents living in AL and memory care.  Or, consider surveying your new residents with pointed questions on their health and fitness goals.  Use all of that feedback to figure out whether you have the existing tools and resources in place to support their goals.

FullSizeR.jpgIn this final blog of the series, I’m going to cover a few additional resources for enhancing your fitness program. 

  • Consider how you can have a more inclusive environment in your IL fitness amenities: Can you establish criteria or resident support tools to invite AL or memory-care residents to use the existing exercise equipment in the fitness center or partake in group exercise classes with IL residents?
  • Develop a fitness space: Whether it is sectioning off a small corner of an existing activity or lounge space or building out an entire room for fitness equipment, having a dedicated fitness space or studio can be a great option for residents of all ability levels.
  • Dedicate a variety of exercise equipment options: It’s time to put down the pool noodles and the beach balls. There are a number of small fitness equipment pieces on the market that can create new challenges and variety in group exercise classes.
  • Consider qualified staff: The demand for quality fitness offerings for older adults has steadily increased in the past decade and therefore there are more and more qualified fitness staff on the market who have experience catering to the unique needs of older adults. Working with a staffing partner like NIFS or hiring your own fitness professional to support your residents’ health and fitness needs even in a part-time capacity can be a significant enhancement to your program.

Through the course of this blog series, I’ve highlighted a variety of opportunities to enhance your fitness offerings for AL and memory-care residents.  While having qualified, fitness staff can be a difference maker, there is quite a bit that existing Activities staff can do to improve exercise offerings. With that being said, you already have a full plate of responsibilities to serve your residents and pausing to develop a strategy for doing fitness better might be a challenge. If you’re ready to improve your fitness program for residents in assisted living and memory care environments, register for our workshop and let us help you.

NIFS Workshop: Register Now

At NIFS Workshop on March 7, we will discuss key qualifications to look for in vetting qualified fitness professionals as well as discussing specific equipment recommendations you could consider for your community. We will also break down how to implement the highlighted opportunities I’ve discussed in this blog series in a phased and step by step approach. This will provide clear action steps for communities to implement new opportunities at whatever pace is comfortable for them now and in the future. Please visit here for more information about the specific learning objectives about the workshop and how to register!

Topics: memory care assisted living NIFS Workshop exercise through the continuums