Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Mechelle Meadows

Recent Posts by Mechelle Meadows:

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Turkey Trot Training

free workout fridayThanksgiving is almost here! That means it’s time to sign up for your local Turkey Trot, Drumstick Dash or your own personal Thanksgiving Day 5K! Studies have proven that your metabolism increases for several hours post-workout, so make a priority to squeeze in some exercise and boost your body’s calorie burning abilities before the big feast. If you do happen to be training for a 5K on Thanksgiving Day, see below for a sample training program that starts on Monday, 11/11.  So today, we want you to go for a brisk walk because you need to pick up the pace on Monday!

Note: This an aggressive running plan, as Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. It is highly recommended that you have done some running prior to starting this program, and that you are comfortable running 1+ miles. If you are a beginner runner, make a goal of finishing the 5K through a combination of walking and running.  You can easily just walk through this schedule to help prepare for your event of choice.

11/11: Run 1 mile

11/13: Run 1.25 miles

11/15: Run 1.5 miles

11/18: Run 1.75 miles

11/20: Run 2 miles

11/22: Run 2.25 miles

11/25: Run 2.5 miles

11/27: Run 0.5-1 mile

11/28: Race day! Run 3.1 miles!

On days in between runs, focus on cross-training, for example weight-lifting or non-impact cardio (elliptical, biking, swimming, etc.) Allow for 1-2 days of rest each week.  Check out past Free Workout Friday videos for cross training options.

Happy turkey trotting and drumstick dashing!

Topics: employee health exercise active aging nifs fitness management fitness

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Plyometrics

free workout fridayA plyometric exercise is one that includes a stretch of the muscle, followed by an explosive movement, working the power aspect of the muscle. For example, in a jump squat, you will bend the knees and  lower down towards the ground, stretching the quads and glutes, then jump straight up into the air in an explosive movement, landing back into the deep squat.

Plyometrics are found in many intense workout formats like boot camps and popular DVD series like Insanity. When plyometrics are performed over the course of 30-60 seconds, not only are the muscles being challenged, but it will become a fairly intense cardio workout as well!

Benefits of plyometrics include:

  • Higher heart rate, leading to more calorie burn
  • Increased muscle strength and power
  • Specialized training for athletes who use techniques like jumping

Here are four plyometric exercises to add into your workouts:

  1. Jump Squat
  2. Box jumps
  3. BOSU plyometric push-ups
  4. Jumping lunges

Need more ideas for changing up your routine?  Subscribe to our blog, or visit our YouTube channel for exercise demos created by our NIFS Fitness Management staff.


Topics: exercise at work Free Workout Friday employee health and fitness nifs fitness managment

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - 10 Minute Abs

free workout fridayDid you know that you can exercise your abs every single day of the week? Normally with strength training, you should wait 48 hours before lifting with those same muscles again—however, since the abdominal muscles are made for endurance by performing jobs like supporting posture and breathing, they can be worked all 7 days of the week! If you are particularly sore after an ab workout, still use your best judgment, and delay working them until the soreness is gone.

Even though it only takes a few minutes to squeeze in a great ab workout, it’s easy to skip that portion of your workout when you are already tired. Below is a 10-minute workout to really target the ab muscles for toning and strength in your corporate fitness center. If you are at a beginner level, shorten the workout by performing 30 seconds of each exercise, for 5 minutes total.

 Perform 1 minute of each exercise:

  1. Warm-up crunches
  2. Reverse crunches
  3. Leg raises
  4. Elbow to knee crunch
  5. Side plank (30 seconds each side)
  6. Bicycle crunch
  7. Russian twist (feet off ground, if able)
  8. Plank w/ alternating knee in to chest
  9. Toe touch crunch
  10. V-sit
Topics: corporate wellness exercise Free Workout Friday core conditioning

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - 200 Squats

free workout fridayIn this fitness challenge we are going to tackle 200 squats! Squats are one of the best exercises you can perform to strengthen the quad and glute muscles and to tone and define the legs. Also, squats are easy to perform anywhere, as you only need your body weight! The website above will give you a 7-week training program, working up towards 200 squats. Here are some other exercises you can use to supplement the training program and really ramp up your leg strength and endurance.

  1. Leg press—This machine allows you to perform the same basic movement as a squat, but gives you a chance to increase the resistance beyond just your body weight, to really enhance the sheer strength in the leg. Build gradually on the weight, and never try to lift weight that would cause you to lose proper form (i.e. arching your back).
  2. Step-ups—Lifting the body from the ground up to a high step (16-18 inches) is a good way to increase muscular strength in the legs. If you perform several reps of a step-up, you will also get an added benefit of a cardio workout, as the heart rate rises! Start with just using body weight, then as weeks progress, hold dumbbells at your side as you perform the step-up.
  3. Lunges—This exercise works the quads and glutes in a similar way as squats, but lunges are generally more challenging. Perform alternating lunges until muscle fatigue in order to improve endurance.

Grab your co-workers and head down to your corporate fitness center and challenge each other to the 200 squat challenge.

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness nifs fitness management Free Workout Friday squat challenge

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Take it outdoors

Getting in ruts with your usual workout equipment? Trying going a completely different route and using “equipment” in the great outdoors! An outdoor workout can be performed at a public park, a nature trail or even in your own backyard.

Mixing up your workout routine this way not only challenges the muscles by giving them a new environment and new textures, but also keeps you mentally engaged in your exercise. The more excited you are about a workout, the more likely you are going to stick with it, and the more likely you will put in all of your effort.

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with some outdoor workouts, and you can easily get the whole family involved. Here are some ideas to get you started—there are many more!

Park bench

  • Step-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Dips
  • 1-leg squats

Trail or pathway

  • Walking lunges
  • Walking side squats

Hill or inclined area

  • Sprints up, jog down
  • Bear crawl up, crab walk down

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Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Push Up Challenge

free workout fridaySummer is the perfect time to take on a big fitness challenge! How about trying the famous 100 Push-ups challenge? This website will give you a training program to follow to start increasing your number of push-ups from your initial baseline. Even if you don’t make it to 100 after the 7-week program, you can still really increase the endurance in your muscles and double your push-up number! You can attempt this challenge on your toes, or modified, on your knees.

Aside from the push-ups that are built into the training program, here are some other strength exercises you can do to assist with a hefty goal of 100 push-ups:

  1. Chest press—This exercise trains the pectoral muscles, which are the main ones you use during a push-up. Work on lifting heavier weight and doing 8-10 reps to work on muscular strength, then also lifting lighter weight for 15-20 reps to work on muscular endurance.
  2. Shoulder press—Shoulders are a secondary muscle group that are working in performing a push-up. Work on increasing both the muscular strength and endurance with a mixture of high and low reps.
  3. Dips—Triceps are the assistor muscles to any chest exercise, like a push-up, so strengthening them is also important. Try dips, which are a body weight exercise similar to a push-up. Perform them until muscle fatigue.
  4. Plank—Since the body is held in a plank position for the majority of a push-up, it’s also important to strengthen the core. After many reps of push-ups, you may start to feel it in your abs just as much as your arms! In the plank, really stress keeping the hips in line with your body and lifting the belly button up to the spine. Hold until muscle fatigue.Like what you just read? Click here to subscribe to the blog.


Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness nifs fitness management Free Workout Friday

NIFS: Eating Cherries to Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Move over blueberries! Cherries are the new food superstar! Recent research from the American College of Sports Medicine has shown that tart cherries may have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food out there. The fruit’s bright red color as well as the antioxidants it contains are connected to reduced levels of inflammation that compare to the capability of many pain medications.

Many corporate wellness clients are dealing with ailments such as osteoarthritis and general chronic pain due to inflammation, so cherries could be a natural way to assist them in pain management. The article says that athletes in particular are more prone to osteoarthritis due to the wear and tear of their joints, so cherries could benefit this population as well.

Tart cherries are currently in season, but you can also find them in the dried or frozen variety during winter months. To read about the “Go Red Instead” campaign and to find more recipes like the one below, go to the Choose Cherries website.

bowl of cherriesCherry Berry Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen tart cherries, pitted
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon cherry juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
8 ice cubes

1 tablespoon slivered toasted almonds
1 tablespoon chopped, dried tart cherries

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into two chilled glasses. Garnish with almonds and dried cherries. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Info:
Nutritional analysis for one serving: Calories 164, Total Fat g 3, Sat Fat g 1, Chol mg 5, Sodium mg 57, Total Carb g 30, Fiber g 1, Sugars g 27, Protein g 5

Topics: nutrition antioxidants arthritis joint health inflammation

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Interval Workout

free workout fridayWhen you are exercising on an elliptical or stationary bike, it’s easy to go on auto-pilot and stay at the same easy to intermediate level that your body is used to. Next time you find yourself of one of these machines, try adding in some interval training! Intervals will make the heart rate jump, then allow for periods of recovery where the heart rate will fall, thus providing better conditioning for the cardiovascular system and burning more calories than the slower, steady-state cardio.

With both bikes and ellipticals, there are 2 ways to increase the intensity at which you are working. You can ramp up the resistance, making your legs work harder to push each time, and raising the heart rate that way. Or, you can increase the speed at which you are pedaling, giving an immediate boost to the heart rate. Play around with both separately, always allowing for recovery time after each round of high intensity. Then, when you feel ready, try building up both the resistance and the speed for a real challenge!

When you first begin intervals, there should be more minutes of rest than minutes of hard work. Slowly build up to an even ratio of rest to work, then after a few weeks of interval training, try to have most of the minutes be comprised of higher intensity work with smaller rest periods interspersed.

Try this sample 20 minute interval workout for the bike or elliptical. Use an intensity scale of levels 1-5, with 1 being very light, and 5 being very challenging.

0:00-3:00: Warm-up

3:00-3:30: Increase speed to level 2

3:30-4:00: Recovery

4:00-4:30: Increase speed to level 3

4:30-5:00: Recovery

5:00-5:30: Increase speed to level 4

5:30-6:00: Recovery

6:00-6:30: Increase resistance to level 2

6:30-7:00: Recovery

7:00-7:30: Increase resistance to level 3

7:30-8:00: Recovery

8:00-8:30: Increase resistance to level 4

8:30-10:00: Recovery

10:00-10:30: Increase speed to level 5

10:30-12:00: Recovery

12:00-12:30: Increase resistance to level 5

12:30-14:00: Recovery

14:00-14:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 4

14:30-16:00: Recovery

16:00-16:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 4

16:30-18:00: Recovery

18:00-18:30: Increase both speed and resistance to level 5

18:30-20:00: Cool-down

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Topics: employee health exercise nifs fitness management Free Workout Friday interval workout

Corporate Wellness: Free Workout Friday - Vacation Workout

Free Workout FridayDon’t Let Your Workouts Take a Vacation!

The summer months are times where many people take vacations and get away from their routines. Even if you find yourself traveling this summer, don’t let your fitness take a vacation! When you go for an extended period of time without logging your usual workouts, it can make it that much more challenging to get back into the groove when you return from vacation—both physically and mentally.

Think of fun or different things you can do for workouts while you are away from the gym. Remember that summer activities like hiking, canoeing and rock climbing all count as physical activity, so think outside of the box!

If you are going to be staying in a hotel room or other small space for a week or more, consider purchasing a resistance band. Unlike dumbbells, this equipment is light and easily portable, and it offers many options to continue your strength training while traveling.

Try this travel workout below, using a resistance band and body weight! Band exercises are demonstrated in the video below.

  1. Jog in place to warm-up: 1 min
  2. Body weight squats: 15 reps
  3. Push-ups (on knees or toes): 15 reps
  4. Band rows: 15 reps
  5. Jumping jacks: 1 min
  6. Band 1-arm shoulder press: 15 reps
  7. Band bicep curls: 15 reps
  8. Alternating lunges: 20 reps (10 per leg)
  9. Tricep dips: 15 reps
  10. Plank: 1 min


Putting Ourselves in Our Corporate Wellness Clients’ Shoes

personal trainerHave you heard this interesting story  regarding personal trainer Drew Manning?  Manning was what his wife called a “judgmental trainer,” and he admits that he would look at his overweight, struggling clients and think that they must choose to be lazy. Surely if they cared about their health enough, they would just make changes instead of blaming their genetics or other factors, Manning thought.

Trainer Finds Drastic Way to Learn Empathy

So, to put himself in his clients’ shoes, he took it upon himself to gain 70 pounds by foregoing his workouts and eating a new diet of junk food. What he found out is that beyond the physical effects of weight gain, he was a different person mentally and emotionally as well. He became self-conscious, insecure, and lethargic. Next, he quickly returned to his former fit self, dropping the 70 pounds and regaining the muscular build. But he now has a heightened sense of empathy for his clients.

As corporate wellness professionals, are we finding empathy with our clients? It’s true that making healthy choices is exactly that—a choice that only an individual can make. But, are we understanding of the many factors at play in our clients’ lives and aware of possible feelings of guilt or embarrassment when they carry extra weight or lack the strength to perform certain exercises?

Be Mindful of Clients’ Emotional Factors

I would never suggest that we pull a risky stunt of gaining and losing large amounts of weight like Manning did. However, we can make it our job to use patience, reflective listening, and a nonjudgmental attitude to be more understanding of how our clients are feeling mentally, not just physically.

Topics: corporate wellness motivation corporate fitness centers obesity personal trainers guilt