Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Planning for success in corporate wellness

planDon’t let your corporate wellness program be the last thing you consider for next year.   If you leave it on the back burner, your big ideas could be unsuccessful if not thoroughly planned.  Start now, pull your team together, get out for a walking meeting and start forward thinking.

Evaluate the past year – think about the past 12 months, where are the natural ebbs and flows in participation in comparison to the work load of your employees?  Most individuals gear up with big expectations for a healthier lifestyle in January, so make note because you have their attention!  You may find that summer months slow down, people are vacationing, have family activities, or other barriers to participation.  Knowing and having an awareness of the increases and decreases throughout the year will help you pin point where you should focus, or try something new to spike engagement and increase participation. 

What worked best – knowing your audience is key; how well do you know your employees and what motivates them to participate in wellness based offerings?  Our corporate fitness staff build programs based on the needs and key motivators for their members.  If you have a workforce that thrives on competition, create a program for departments to come together and encourage each other.  Maybe your industry can be stressful at certain points in the year; offer stretch breaks, meditation moments, or activity centers that give employees a place to step away from their desk and re-energize.  Not everything about your program needs to be fitness based, evolve your program!

Map it out – grab a calendar and start planning.  When you looked back on the past year, what were those key points in the year for participation?  Mark your calendar.  By forward thinking and planning for the year you know what is up and coming and can use that to your advantage.  As one program is wrapping up its final week or days, you can start promoting the next program while you still have a captive audience.  In those down months where participation was low, use those best practices where you’ve seen great success and modify it into a new program idea.  Use what works for your employees to keep them engaged throughout the year. 

Plan to evaluate – if you don’t already, evaluate your programs.  When planning a specific program, what is it you want to achieve?  Set SMART goals and assess how you are going to get your employees to be successful.  By knowing what you are trying to measure, or have employees achieve throughout the program will give you specific data points to collect to measure your success.  Consider working to increase visits to your onsite fitness center, or have employees be more cautious of their blood pressure and taking steps to maintain healthy numbers.  By making the goals SMART, you will have a measurable goal to strive for.

A successful program doesn’t always meet every goal set. Always consider what did or didn’t work and how you can improve next time.  Make notes to refer to when planning your next big program.  Keep in mind when employees feel supported by their management team to participate, they are more likely to succeed.  Have your key leaders behind your overall initiative and allow them to encourage employees to live and be healthier.

Click below to get our 5 Tips for Maximizing Employee Engagement.

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Topics: program planning CORP Programs and Services

Improve your senior living fitness program by outsourcing the staff

If you believe it's time to offer more to current residents and prospects through your exercise program, but you're not quite sure what that "more" entails or how to get there, outsourcing might make a lot of sense for your community.

Outsourcing isn't just for therapy

The primary benefit to looking at a partner for management of any area of your community is the value of the depth and breadth of the firm's experience. Communities don't think twice about outsourcing therapy but when it comes to taking a closer look at the reasons to outsource management of the fitness center and related programming, I sometimes get blank stares from leadership. And I can't explain it. Certainly, how we provide service, the nature of our contracts with our clients, and the credentials of the staff we provide for community fitness is different from therapy groups, but the overall concept is the same. If you want an expert-run fitness program, you have to work with the experts. 

I’ve had the opportunity to work with NIFS for many years with multiple communities and I can say without exception that they have taken the wellness program in our communities to a new level. They are the best in the industry at what they do, and I would not hesitate bringing them in to any senior housing community that I am affiliated with. Our communities are stronger with NIFS on their team.  ~Mick Feauto, COO, LifeSpire of Virginia

NIFS math | LeadingAge | Senior Living

NIFS Math

NIFS staff in your community are backed by an our organization that is uniquely focused on the specific work of elevating your fitness program. We're regularly supporting continuing education for our team and we have a proven model for effectively sharing resources so our clients get far more than the one NIFS manager on the ground. We like to call it "NIFS math" where 1 + 1 = 3.

 

What to expect from your fitness program

4399_KF_3163.jpgYou need your fitness center to be a hallmark, a standout for the community. For your current residents, it should be one of the most praised offerings both because the staff are well-loved and because they are effective at keeping residents engaged with new, consistent, well-done offerings. The fitness program should also be on the list of reasons prospective residents choose your community. But if the group fitness calendar and the personal training services look the same as all the competition, and if you don't have the necessary data to tell key stories about how resident's lives have been improved by participating, then you're missing out on an opportunity.

NIFS clients see a lot of value in their partnerships because they gain much more than "just a trainer" for their gym. Check out some of the services we provide that aren't common to most community fitness programs:

  • Balance Redefined includes rich programming and services focused specifically on balance training and fall prevention; our Balance Redefined offerings were built from, and regularly evolve because of our experience with dozens of communities over the last 15 years.
  • Key data points for the fitness program are regularly reported and smartly used to continuously improve what we're offering in each client setting. From tracking participation per resident to evaluating outcomes and goals on our programs, we are constantly checking in on and reporting our progress.
  • Reaching residents in assisted living and memory care environments with quality fitness services can be a real challenge. Our staff provide that outreach through strong relationships with community lifestyle coordinators. Modified balance assessments, group classes, personal training, and hybrid health-related programming are all tailored for the unique needs of residents in those settings.

[Related Content: 4 Keys to Getting Data You Can Actually Use]

Find out how you can put NIFS math to work in your community. Contact us or stop by and see us at the LeadingAge Expo.  We'll be hanging out with our calculators doing NIFS math in booth #1261.

Topics: senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior living communities senior fitness group fitness for seniors fitness center for seniors leading age LeadingAge

Balance Redefined: Fall prevention moves beyond the group fitness calendar

In my last post about our launch of Balance Redefined, I wrote about the importance of building a group fitness calendar that includes stand-alone balance classes. Now I want to address how your community can move beyond the classes on the calendar to build a wrap-around fall prevention program.

Balance-redefined-final-programs-page.jpg

In truth, if you want to cultivate a robust balance program, you'll have to get more people than just your fitness center manager to the table. Here's how we make that happen for our clients:

 

 

[Related Content: How NIFS fitness managers spend their time]

  • Partnerships: Therapy, home health and nursing staff are invited to observe a balance class to aid in resident referrals for those who could benefit. Many of the therapy teams we partner with will provide patients with a handout of exercises to continue upon discharge from their services with additional instructions to participate in the balance class. Our staff are involved in the discharge plan and participate in a hand off of a resident from their therapy regimen to a preventive program in the fitness center.
  • Assessments: Using the Fullerton Advance Balance Test protocols in conjunction with the Senior Fitness Test, we assess how a resident’s vestibular, somatosensory, and/or visual senses impact their balance. Based on the results, we prescribe specific exercises to improve specific areas of weakness. We believe strongly that working with residents to identify the underlying cause of a balance deficiency opens the door to further educating and empowering the individual on a path to improved well-being both emotionally and physically.
  • Education: Empowering residents through education and resources on fall prevention is key to improving confidence and helping residents identify the services best suited to their needs. NIFS offers an array of educational programs ranging from fall prevention lectures partnered with the therapy department, to seminars on coaching residents how to fall safely or get up from the ground, as well as signs/symptoms to look for with concussions and the long-term impact one can have on a senior’s stability.
  • Balance Fairs: Think Health Fair with a creative twist to showcase everything balance and fall prevention related! This collaborative effort taps into internal and external partners to communicate services and resources for residents. Examples of vendors for the fair include an assistive device tune-up clinic from rehab, a balance assessments from the fitness staff, a "balance your plate" booth from dining services, a local podiatry practice educating on proper footwear, the community pharmacist speaking about medication side effects, internal clinic/health services offering blood pressure screenings, a local chiropractor providing posture checks, and more.

This may be a unique approach for your community, and if you don't have adequate fitness staff in place, it could seem like a heavy lift. If you need to rally your staff around the concept, forward on this blog to start the conversation, or download our quick read on the importance of balance training. With services ranging from fun balance circuits to balance sessions using the Wii Fit or Biodex Balance System to aquatic balance programs, prospects will quickly see how much more your community offers.

Based on the consulting work I've done with communities across the US, this is a comprehensive, prevention-based approach that helps our clients stand out from their competition. If you want to find out more about how to bring NIFS and Balance Redefined to your residents, connect with us.

Find out how nifs can help

Topics: fall prevention group fitness for seniors balance redefined

Balance Redefined: Residents benefit from dedicated balance classes

IMG_2730.jpgFall prevention. It's a big deal in senior living. When a resident falls, the costs can be significant for both the individual and the community. So it makes sense to have comprehensive programming that focuses on physical balance. And yet, whether we're consulting with a community or we've recently started managing their fitness program, it's really common to discover that even the most basic of opportunities to promote balance is missed when group fitness calendars lack dedicated balance classes.

The reality is that a comprehensive strategy to improve resident's balance involves so much more than a group fitness class on the calendar, and that’s why we take an approach that is both broad and deep to help decrease fall risk for residents in both independent and assisted living environments. But we have to begin at the beginning, and that means adding dedicated balance classes.

It's time to put dedicated balance classes on your calendar.

It's not enough to address balance training as a 20 minute segment in your strength class. Your Tai Chi class also isn't comprehensively handling your resident's need for improving their balance. The physiological mechanisms that have to work together to achieve optimal balance are complicated and they warrant their own dedicated class on the calendar. Without fail, when we've started with a new client and brought balance into the program in a more bold fashion, that specific class fills up quickly. A dedicated balance program provide substantial benefit to residents to help increase their confidence, and it allows your community to stand with your brand promise for an vibrant living backed with safety and security that is second to none.

[Related Content: How to Fall and Get Back Up Safely]

Essential elements of a successful balance class

In the last 15 years that we've been managing fitness centers in senior living communities, we've learned a lot about what works for the residents we're serving. Below are a few considerations as you look to enhance what you're offering.

  • If your population supports it, offer different levels of balance class so that all participants can be continually challenged. You likely work with residents who represent a range of physical capabilities; despite those differences, they all benefit from balance training, so build classes that can help even the most daring participants feel like they've worked hard.
  • Include elements of complex movement patterns where the core and lower body muscles are activated; add in brain fitness components that train participants to react both physically and mentally as they would in their everyday environment. Ideally, the classes should be designed with research-based movement patterns including the following:
    • Standing or sitting on an unstable surface
    • Keeping the eyes open or closed
    • Tilting the head in different positions
    • Turning the head or tossing a ball to respond to instructor commands
  • Consider the small equipment you have and how you can use it differently or commit small amount of the budget to buying additional items that will enhance balance classes. Balance pads, BOSU trainers, and weighted balls are all good additions.

[Related Content: Is Your Senior Fitness Program Challenging Enough?]

It’s not your typical march in place, balance on one foot and perform 10 squats type of class! It’s dynamic and just as mentally stimulating as it is physically for participants. If your fitness instructors or group class instructors aren't sure how to pull together a full class focused on balance, connect with us to find if consulting might benefit your exercise program.

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Topics: senior living communities balance training balance redefined

Balance Redefined: Creating experiences to engage residents in living well

ThinkstockPhotos-526312285.jpgWhen we first started talking about Balance Redefined inside our organization, our sole focus was on physical balance and the unique, wrap-around fall prevention programming we provide. But we knew that wasn't the stopping point for us. Because our work outside the fitness center serving as life enrichment directors for a variety of clients has demonstrated that living well extends way beyond an individual’s physical health, particularly for older adults.

We believe that wellness programming in your community should be diverse and built around the interest of your residents. The idea is to inspire residents to get involved and in order to do that, you have to know what makes the residents tick. You have to know what makes them want to get out of bed in the morning and what inspires them to invite their neighbors to join them. Filling the calendar is definitely more art than science; avoiding common pitfalls like order taking is tough. And ensuring there are very few sit-and-listen programs on the calendar requires discipline. But there are plenty of fun, engaging program ideas to go around.

[Related Content: Evaluate the quality of your wellness program]

Below are a few examples of programs created by our lifestyle staff that demonstrate our commitment to creating experiences to engage residents in balanced living.

How does your garden grow

Create a focus on gardening by using National Exercise in the Garden Day to host a balance class in/near the resident garden area. Emphasize the residents gardens by setting up a stand where residents to showcase/sell their produce to their neighbors. Provide a presentation from a master gardener with tips/benefits on organic gardening; it's possible you have residents who are trained as master gardeners who could provide this talk. Offer a series of short group fitness classes that are designed to prepare residents to be active in the community gardens. Host a themed garden party for happy hour.

Water, water everywhere

You might this theme would speak only to pool-based programming. Certainly, if your community has a pool, it should be a spotlight, but that's only one element in this robust program that deals with everything water. Start this programming with an event to teach residents about the importance of proper hydration; build a challenge encouraging them to drink enough water daily. Hold an aquatic ambassadors program to promote pool participation. Serve fresh seafood in your dining venues and showcase the origin and health benefits of the spotlighted menu items. Host a series of coffee talks with your a dietitian discussing the importance of fish in a balanced diet. Wrap the water themed programming up with a polar plunge, a luau, or a pool party.

Train your brain

Help residents engage their brains in less traditional ways by launching language courses from a nearby partner university. Add 15-minute meditation sessions following the weekly balance class; consider spotlighting other brain fitness programming you may have onsite (i.e., Dakim(R)). Build a brain teaser program that runs riddles/cluse on your community's CCTV where residents are invited to various areas of the community to find the answers. Run a museum marathon where the month's outings focus on area museums and special tours are provided by the museum staff. Spotlight brain-boosting foods on your dining menus, and offer coffee talks focused on memory-related disorders as well as what services you provide in-house from your memory care center.

If these programs sound delightful but you're not sure you could get them going in your community, consider connecting with us for wellness consulting. You can put our years of experience in senior living communities across the US to work in your organization to build better programming that speaks to resident passions and that engages staff across your organization for a more collaborative approach.

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

Topics: balance training senior living wellness programs balance redefined

Focusing on Flexibility in Fitness: Stretching’s Role in Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-607478378.jpgAfter a workout, it’s important to relax your mind and body. A great way to make sure the muscles are relaxed after a workout is to stretch. Many people overlook the importance of flexibility in fitness, not realizing that with improved flexibility you can enhance your workouts.

Even just adding in 5 to 10 minutes of stretching after a workout is better than nothing! You do not have to set aside 30 minutes a day for flexibility; quick sessions after a workout are great to relieve the tension in your muscles. When I stretch after a workout session, I can tell I have a better range of motion, my muscles are pliable, and the stress from the workout eases tremendously. Most mornings when I wake up, it’s a struggle to even be able to touch my toes. With a quick stretch, I am instantly moving better.

Flexibility’s Role in Functional Movement

Flexibility is often overlooked because it’s not something seen as a component of health and wellness. When it comes to exercise, most people are looking to lose weight, run faster, lift heavier weights, and become a stronger person overall. They fail to realize that when you improve your flexibility, you will also increase your workout performance as well as increase your ability to tackle everyday activities (functional fitness).

As we age, we know it becomes increasingly difficult to be as mobile as we were before. Bones become more fragile and muscles tend to lose elasticity. This is where flexibility really comes into play. When you keep up with stretching and loosening those muscles daily with flexibility, you are increasing your body’s range of motion. With a greater range of motion comes the ease of accomplishing everyday activities.

The Best Time to Stretch

When’s the best time to stretch? The best time to static stretch is after a workout. Many of us have been taught that it is important to warm up the muscles with stretching before exercise. Many scientists have determined that is not the case. Stretching the muscles before an intense exercise session can do more harm to them than good; it may actually inhibit the ability for the muscle to fire when it is supposed to.

It is important to warm the muscles up with dynamic movements versus static. Dynamic exercises will activate the reflexes in the muscles and tendons, whereas static stretching is just pulling on the muscles before they are warmed up. Static stretching is best after exercise during recovery because it helps the body cool down from a workout; the muscles are warm from the workout, making them easier to stretch.

Interested in helping your employees move more?  Check out our EBook and how your can help your work force "Fit it In"!

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Topics: stretching recovery workouts functional movement flexibility