Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Bethany Garrity

Recent Posts by Bethany Garrity:

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

Why Wearable Fitness Trackers Aren't Your Wellness Program

ThinkstockPhotos-470428334.jpgConsidering how long it can take to make a global shift in corporate America, the rise of wearable fitness trackers in wellness has been meteoric. A recent study reports an anticipated 13M wearables will enter the corporate wellness market by 2018. Despite the rapid adoption of this technology by businesses for their employees, there remains healthy skepticism about what exactly is being measured and who is privy to that data.

It would be tempting, I think, for an employer to see wearable tech as the answer to their questions about how to have an employee wellness program. The devices are relatively inexpensive and generally easy to use. And many adults already use a device without it being connected to a corporate wellness program, so there is no introduction of something foreign to which the workforce must adapt.

But the easy answer isn't always the right answer. Here are three reasons why wearable fitness trackers aren't your wellness program.

1. It's not always about the numbers.

Despite the continued drumbeat for measurement, ROI, and quantifying value in wellness, providing opportunities for your employees to live well isn't always about the numbers. If you're offering a wellness program and your only goal is to save money on healthcare costs for the business, you're (dare I say) probably doing employee wellness for the wrong reasons.

Your employees are people—people with complicated and busy lives. If you want them to live well, you may want to rethink your desire to hook them up with a tracking device that's going to report on everything from steps to sleep. You might view it as a perk, while employees see it as more pressure.

If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, consider them as an option among many other tools your workforce can choose from to live well in ways that are meaningful to them.

[Related Content: Why Employee Purpose might be the Heart of Corporate Wellness]

 

2. Like most programs under the corporate wellness banner, one size does not fit all.

If you're a fan of using a tracker personally, it may come as a surprise that they're not a good choice for everyone. Some people are quickly defeated by the constant barrage of information, so instead of serving as a device to motivate individuals, they have the opposite effect. Other people quickly turn to obsession with the data, constantly feeling like they need to do more, move more, sleep better, etc., to the exclusion of other more important activities (like work). As eloquently stated in this personal account, "...there is a fine line between health consciousness and a health obsession...."

While this study on wearables points to a 53% adoption rate for the under-40 employee crowd (note that the adoption rate for the over-50 employee group was at 36%) as a good thing, I'm left to wonder...what about the other 50+% of your workforce? If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, understand the potential reach as well as the potential concerns among your employees. Diversity in your offerings acknowledges the varied interests and passions of your employees.

3. High-tech has a place, but so does high-touch.

I've written about high-tech vs. high-touch in corporate wellness before. Wellness isn't an either/or proposition when you consider high-tech and high-touch options. You need sophisticated tech solutions to understand what is and isn't working in your wellness program. Still, there are limits to what technology can do for your business when it comes to helping employees live well.

For the employee who is caring for his parents who are aging in place with dementia, the wellness tracker does not get him more engaged at work or taking more steps; it only leaves him feeling more alone in his caregiving situation. It doesn't provide support for him while he struggles to figure out how he's going to get dinner to his parents and still make it to his son's baseball game. But if he has a relationship with the wellness manager (high-touch), he might open up about this personal situation. Then the wellness manager can help him find resources through the EAP or the local-area agency on aging.

***

Your amazing employees are complex and they need a variety of tools at their disposal to live well. Wearables aren't the answer; they're just a piece of the puzzle. Need to think outside the wearable option? Grab these seven ideas for how to make movement easy at work.

Looking to add exercise options to your corporate wellness offerings?  Check our out free download to help get you started!

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Topics: corporate wellness ROI technology wearables fitness trackers

Corporate Fitness: Why Do Your Feet Go Numb During Workouts

 

ThinkstockPhotos-484968472.jpgRegardless of whether you're new to exercise or you've been sweating it out for years, there's a good chance you've experienced the sensation of one or both of your feet going numb during a workout. For me, it's most likely to happen when I'm on an elliptical machine in the fitness center, but it's happened when I was out on a run, too. And "Why do your feet go numb during workouts?" is certainly one of the more commonly asked questions posed by our corporate fitness members. This phenomenon is common (and annoying), but it's probably not a life-threatening medical condition. There are a few things you can try to get the sensation to go away for good.

Check your routine. If you find that you frequently experience numbness during a specific activity, try changing up your routine. Maybe that particular piece of equipment or class just isn't the right fit for your body. Who knows, it might be that you just need a break, and taking a little time off can allow you to come back refreshed and ready for a new start.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 7 Ways to Add Exercise to the Workplace >

Check your laces. You may find that a simple adjustment in how tightly you lace your shoes can help. Resist the urge to snug-up the laces for a tight fit, and instead give your foot a little breathing room. Feet sometimes swell during exercise, and if you lace up tightly before you start sweating, you don't leave much room for your foot to spread.

Check your shoes. Consider the width (brand) of your shoe. A medium-width shoe is not the same across brands, and the same make/model of shoe has a different width for men and women. Men's shoes tend to have a wider toe box than women's shoes. So ladies, if you don't need a wide width, but your women's joggers aren't cutting it, try the men's version of the same shoe for a more comfortable fit. If you haven't been professionally fitted for shoes, it may be worth that investment.

[Related Content: How to find the right shoe]

Check your placement. On an elliptical or a bike, where the tendency is to keep your feet in the same position throughout the workout, think about making slight movements throughout the ride/roll. Subtly shifting how you place pressure on your feet over the span of a 20–40-minute session can help minimize numbness in the feet.

Check your symptoms. If you can use one of the recommendations above and the numbness goes away, no worries. If you find, however, that the numbness persists through your day, always occurs in the same place on your foot, or is so severe that you have to discontinue your workouts, it may be time to see your doctor. You may be dealing with a pinched-nerve injury that will need more than the suggestions above to remedy.

 

Topics: corporate fitness shoes Fitness Center injury workouts numbness

Weight-shifting exercises are key to fall prevention for residents

ThinkstockPhotos-590277470.jpgThe numbers are clear: about one-third of adults, ages 65 years and older, will sustain a fall this year. And the statistics that relate to the cost of falls are equally concerning. Because falls are a substantial risk in senior living communities, we focus a lot of attention on asking why residents fall and what can we do to prevent them. The results from a recent study provides us with some answers.


Study Shows What Causes Senior Falls

A 2014 observational study determined how and why falls occur in the aging population by actually videotaping falls in two long-term-care facilities between 2007 and 2010. The video cameras were placed in the common areas such as the dining rooms, hallways, and lounges. When a fall occurred it was reviewed with a focus on the actual cause of imbalance and the activity at the time of falling. The study captured 227 falls from 130 individuals. The researchers concluded that the most common cause of falls (41 percent) was incorrect weight shifting: basically, how an individual moves or transfers from one position to another.

Specifically, researchers noted that the majority of falls they recorded occurred in a position change from standing to walking. You see, staying balanced is about more than maintaining steady footing when in motion. The results of this study show that how we start moving can be much more crucial to staying in balance.

Read Now: Basics for Effective Fall Prevention

Weight-Shifting Exercises are Key to Fall Prevention

If the researchers are right, then we need to make sure our senior living fitness programs incorporate weight-shifting exercises for participants. Not only do these activities teach residents about how to understand their center of gravity, but they also help with coordination and provide opportunities for modest strength and endurance gains in the lower body muscles. When taught carefully, implementing weight-shifting exercise into a balance program can provide intentional focus on more precise movement which helps overall motor control.

Ideally, your community's fitness program is run by a qualified fitness professional who can provide a range of fitness services for seniors including customized exercises in group and individual settings for each resident's needs.

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

Fitness professionals can administer balance-training and weight-shifting exercises through one-on-one personal training sessions, group exercise classes, or with simple recommendations of exercises for a resident to include in her typical morning stretches. Trained staff can also provide field testing to help residents understand how they score on balance and other fitness tests so that they can work toward improvement with their tailored exercise regimen.

In case you don't have qualified staff on board, here are some examples of simple weight-shifting exercises for active older adults that can be taught by anyone in your community:

  • Side Sways: While seated in a chair or standing, place the feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Leading with the upper body, lean the body gently to the right while keeping both feet in contact with the floor. Repeat 10 to 15 times in both directions. Watch a demo of the exercise.
  • Forward Steps: Standing with the feet together near a chair back or counter top to hold onto, take an exaggerated step forward with the right foot. Then take the necessary amount of steps to recover to a normal standing position. Repeat 8 to 10 times and then perform on the left leg. Watch a demo of the exercise.

For more great content like this, download our whitepaper on balance and subscribe to our blog:

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Topics: senior living senior fitness fall prevention balance training

Improve Your Senior Living Exercise Program: Focus on Chronic Disease

ThinkstockPhotos-585600458.jpgThe benefits of regular activity for individuals throughout their lifespan is clear through the many (many, many) studies that outline how much movement is enough and which elements of health are improved with activity. However, despite the research, people in the U.S. still simply don't get enough activity to sustain health benefits, and the rate of inactivity in the older adult population is even more startling.

Sedentary behavior as we age can be linked to chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Although these conditions are common in older adults—and in many cases, regular exercise can help individuals manage those health issues—seniors often feel limited by their chronic illnesses. If you're having trouble growing participation in your community exercise program, you might be missing this important audience. Improve your senior living exercise program and focus on chronic disease to address these health concerns.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Help Residents Manage Chronic Illness with Exercise

  • Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.

[Related Content: Pick your arthritis battles: how exercise can help]

  • Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  • Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  • Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help lower overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  • Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  • Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  • Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. One study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  • Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help tire the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.

Need help ramping up community exercise programs to reach a broader audience? Find out more about NIFS consulting service where we bring our expertise to your community.

find out more about consulting

Topics: diabetes heart disease cancer sleep senior living arthritis hypertension dementia depression exercise program CCRC Programs and Services chronic disease

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

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.

Download Now

Topics: corporate wellness motivation volunteering, incentives employee purpose

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

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