Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Mistie Hayhow

Recent Posts by Mistie Hayhow:

How to Build an at-Home Gym: What Is Essential Equipment?

509255562.jpgOpen 24 hours a day, no membership fees, and no commute; this is what you have to look forward to after you complete your at-home gym! This can be an exciting time, but also overwhelming if you don’t know where to get started on your quest to exercise at home.

Planning Your Equipment

If you build a home gym the right way, it should take a couple of years. You don’t want to build the picture-perfect gym with no money left in your pocket and lots of equipment acquiring dust. Make a plan to grow your gym as your workouts progress. You will commit to more complicated workouts, and will need heavier weights and more equipment to mix up your workouts. When you purchase a piece of equipment, you want to know you are going to use it and it is going to be part of your routine. When planning, think of the cost vs. benefit for each piece in your home gym.

If you are a runner and know you will complete most of your workouts in the winter months on the treadmill, you know the workouts you put in will outweigh the cost of the treadmill. You should splurge on this item and buy a state-of-the-art treadmill. If you are just getting into weightlifting, the benefit of an extravagant dumbbell set might not outweigh the cost. Think about what your workouts look like now, purchase that equipment, and build over the next few years.

If there are pieces of equipment that are more of a want than a need or you are working on a smaller budget, look into purchasing used equipment. Lots of websites sell gently used gym equipment. Ask your family, friends, and coworkers if they have equipment they don’t use or have suggestions on brands to purchase.

Home Gym Essentials

If you have no idea where to start, here is a list of a few essentials that are seen in most home fitness centers.

  • Adjustable bench: A sturdy, comfortable bench is vital to your workouts. An adjustable bench can be used in so many different ways.
  • Power rack: If you are looking to lift heavy and do it safely, this piece is a no-brainer. You will bench, squat, press, and deadlift using this machine.
  • Barbell and plates: These can be used for free-standing exercises or along with the power rack. Purchase the weights you know you will use and you can add to your collection over the years.
  • Adjustable dumbbells: They are an investment but will save you money and space in the long run.
  • Piece of cardio equipment: Pick a piece that you enjoy or is right for your budget. These pieces will be pricier, so choose one you know you and your family members will use.

After you have the essentials you can purchase some extra fun pieces of equipment that are typically lower cost. These may include jump ropes, resistance bands, stability balls, etc.

Planning the Space

You will also want to think about where you place your gym, what kind of flooring you use, paint color, windows, display case with awards, motivational quotes, posters, TV, etc. These are things that will be personal preference but are important and will make your gym unique. Include items that motivate you and fit your workout personality. You want your gym to be a place that you can escape to and feel motivated to work toward your goals!

 What is your favorite in home piece of equipment?  Comment below and share with us!

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Topics: exercise at home Fitness Center equipment weightlifting resistance winter

Corporate Fitness: How to make fitness fun with pumpkins


We are always looking for ways to keep workouts fresh and members engaged. Holidays are a great time to play off of the holiday theme and create unique workouts. Although some may think of them as cheesy, once they get into the workout they realize we haven’t forgotten what they came for – a challenge! Each year around Halloween we plan a pumpkin workout for our corporate fitness members. Why pumpkins? They are everywhere this time of year; why not include them in a workout? The pumpkins act as weights and props. They are less expensive than most gym equipment and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing for a variety of fitness levels to participate.

Around this time each year we start brainstorming how/when we will do our annual pumpkin workout. Once a date and time are picked, we send out a registration link to our members as a “special invitation” to join us. The link also helps us keep track of how many people we will have participating, so we know how many pumpkins to purchase. Through word of mouth, a few flyers, and emails, we’ll typically have a group of 20-30 people!

Planning the workout is where our creativity is put to the test. We try to incorporate the pumpkin as much as possible while making sure the exercises are safe and effective. A few things to consider:

  1. Weight - Each of the pumpkins will be a different weight, so make sure the exercises can be performed with a variety of weights. (Medicine or Dynamax ball are good to have on hand for a quick swap when the pumpkin is not the appropriate weight.)
  2. Shape - All of the pumpkins will have a different shape (some round, some more oval). Take this into consideration when incorporating certain exercises.  

cherelleThere are endless exercises that can be performed with the pumpkin. Start by thinking of go-to exercises that you would incorporate into one of your group fitness classes (pushups, squats, lunges, etc.). Now, think about how a “weight” or pumpkin can be added. For example, hold the pumpkin at your chest while performing a squat, put one hand on the pumpkin for an added challenge during a set of pushups, or push the pumpkin overhead after performing a lunge. Structure your workout so every major muscle group is targeted by the end. Also, throw in some cardio bursts, such as running with the pumpkin, bear crawling while rolling the pumpkin along at your side, or performing mountain climbers with your hands grasping the pumpkin. Add some core exercises as well (planks with a pumpkin roll, Russian twists, sit-up with a press, single leg v-ups).  Think about the amount of space that you have and plan accordingly.

AnnaSo, now you’ve secured participants and planned the exercises; don’t forget about one of the most important parts – pumpkin preparation! In the past, we’ve purchased our pumpkins a few different ways. A visit to the local supermarket allowed us to hand-pick the pumpkins sizes, but you’ll need some muscle power and a large car.  We’ve also gotten our pumpkins from a distributor – this proved to require less hassle as the pumpkins were delivered right to our door, but also resulted in less variety in sizes.

Depending on the condition of your pumpkins, they may need a quick cleaning to remove dirt and in most cases will need their stems cut so that no sharp edges remain.  A basic saw or knife works well for this – just don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your pumpkins are ready to go! We advertise that pumpkin selection for the participants is first come, first served, but as mentioned above, we have extra medicine balls on hand if someone needs to switch out. 

Now, you’re ready to give your participants a SPOOK-tacular experience with a souvenir pumpkin to remember it by! Looking for other ways to make fitness festive this October?  Check out NIFS Fitness Management's Best Practice: SKELETONE!

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: employee health corporate fitness

NIFS: Ten Myths that Fool the Smartest of Exercisers

Some of you may have already been the brunt of an April Fool’s joke today.  Let’s clear up some fitness myths so you are not the brunt of any more jokes, especially in the gym.

1. The gym negates a bad diet- You cannot out exercise a bad diet. Don’t try it; I promise your diet will win every time! Hours and hours can be spent in the gym yielding few results because a person is only changing one piece of the puzzle. They use the excuse that they can eat whatever they want because their exercise offsets the excess calories taken in. The body does not work this way. Most people do not realize the amount of calories they actually consume and the amount of time it would actually take to burn it off at the gym. It takes much, much longer to burn off that cookie than it does to eat it!

2. Spot reduction works- Don’t feel like a complete fool if you have believed this one; it is not completely untrue. You cannot pick which areas from which you want to burn fat, but you can strengthen certain muscles by performing exercises focused on particular muscle groups.  By strengthening these muscles, you will tone areas and create shapely muscles. Now comes the second piece of the puzzle; to see these muscles you must burn off the excess layer of energy or “fat” to expose these beautiful muscles you have been working so hard for. Again, the gym does not outweigh your diet.

woman using exercise band resized 600

3. I’ve never been flexible and never will be- You make yourself inflexible by never training yourself to be.  Yes, your muscles may have been tight all your life, but this is because you have never worked to train them to be anything but tight.

4. Weight training bulks you up- If you want to change the composition of your body you have to weight lift. Yes, even you, ladies; it’s not just for the guys. Lifting will not make you bulky; things like your diet and the way you train can lead to bulk. Female bodies are lacking enough testosterone to gain as much muscle mass as a male. Lifting weight will change your body composition by increasing the percentage of muscle throughout your body, leading to a higher metabolic rate and a lean, shapely figure.

5. If I’m not sore or in pain, I’m not working hard enough- Don’t seek soreness. It can come from many different factors that have nothing to do with the quality of your workout. Judge your workout by more than how sore you are. How do you feel mentally? Are you smiling? Relaxed? Have more energy? Feel accomplished?

6. Cardio and resistance training are two separate activities- Mixing the two together can be the best combination for fat loss and save you tons of time! While lifting in the gym take fewer breaks between sets or add cardio intervals in between sets. This will allow your heart rate to stay elevated and give you the weight training you set out to do with the added cardio component.

7. I need machines to get a total workout- Why not think of your body as a machine? Machines and free weights serve their purpose and can be an essential part of your routine, but don’t limit yourself. You will get stuck at some point if all you use is machines. There will be a time when these are not available to you. When performing body weight training, you are in full control of the weight (your own body weight). You are recruiting muscles, especially stabilizing muscles that tend to go unused during machine workouts. Body weight training allows you to mimic movements that you will actually perform in real life.

8. Muscle weighs more than fat- Muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. The difference is their density. As we gain muscle and lose fat, our weight may change very little even though our body composition is changing and we are becoming leaner. Don’t become discouraged if the scale is not going in your favor. That being said, don’t assume you are at a healthy weight; the number is just higher on the scale because of your muscle mass. Get tested! A body composition test is the only true measure of what your weight is actually made up of.

9. Recovery time is social time- Don’t let distractions get in your way. Hopefully you came to the gym with a purpose in mind. Do what you came there to do. Turn off your cell phone, put in your headphones, and stick to your plan. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in half the time when you are focused, then you will have more time to rest or socialize after your workout.

10. A tired mind is a tired body- Answering emails and phone calls, long meetings and appointments can make you feel drained after a full day at the office. Ditch the tired excuse. You might be tired of the work you have been doing, but your body may be looking to get rid of built up energy from the day. A tired mind does not mean a tired body! A workout can give you the extra energy and clear mind you are searching for.

Don't fall for those old tricks, re-establish your health for a better you!  

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Topics: wellness April fool's day exercise myths exercise and health

NIFS: Seven things we can learn from Olympic Athletes

cross country skiingOlympic athletes are viewed as superheroes and celebrities; strong, brave individuals at the peak of their career. The words unrealistic or unattainable may have just come into your thoughts; mine too.  After taking a step back and thinking about these superstars, there are many lessons we can learn from them. Years and years of preparation go into becoming an Olympic athlete and it is a full time job. What can we learn from these elite athletes, how can we train like them, how can they be role models to us on a wellness journey?  Think about the qualities an Olympian possesses and how you can translate these into your life.
  1. They have a purpose- LoLo Jones will make history as one of 10 athletes to compete in both the Winter and Summer games. Meryl Davis and Charlie White made history by becoming the first American team to win an Olympic medal in ice dancing. These athletes have a PURPOSE coming into the games; they want to make history. Purpose drives people to do great things. What is your purpose? A goal to work towards is crucial to succeeding.
  2. They don’t allow distractions- Coming out of retirement to compete in these games is women’s skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace. Not only is she racing down the icy chute at 80 mph, she is also juggling her busy life as a mother of two small children. Time, family, work and a personal life can all be distractions and excuses for not working toward your goals. We all have these “excuses”; it is up to us not to use them as an “excuse.” Olympians have these same outside pressures, but stay focused because they prioritize what is important to them. If health/fitness is a priority in your life, you will find time, and your “good excuse” will not be so “good” anymore.
  3. View food as fuel- Food is used for these athletes as a training tool. The food they eat before/after their workout dictates their performance each day, and how they react to their training. I know it can be hard to think of food in this way; our culture has trained us to think the exact opposite. Food is for enjoyment, even therapy, right? We have to face the facts whether we like it or not what we put into our bodies influences how we feel throughout the day. It stays with us much longer than it takes for us to consume it.
  4. Track their progress- The journey to the Olympics takes years and years. How do these athletes stay motivated and not lose sight of their goal? They track their progress. They know their purpose; have a plan, and a goal they are working towards. Progress pictures, exercise and diet logs, performing a fitness assessment or health screening may seem tedious at times, but trust me, you won’t regret them! How will you know how far you have come if you don’t remember where you started?
  5. Don’t let injury derail them- Training for hours each day and the nature of the winter Olympic sports being very dangerous, injuries are part of the process. Yes, this puts a setback in the athletes’ original training plans, but they do not let it become a barrier. These athletes work around their injury and become creative with their training. Hannah Kearney, two time Olympic gold medalist in moguls skiing, lacerated her liver, broke two ribs, and punctured a lung during training in 2012, won gold at the 2013 world championships and is one to watch at these Olympics. Injuries, physical limitations, or illness can feel like a setback in our fitness journey. Working with a variety of clients in corporate fitness, I have found and I think most fitness professionals would agree, there are few if ANY injuries that should prevent a person from not exercising. Don’t think of an injury as a setback, think of it as a challenge to be creative.
  6. They get professional help- If you are scratching your head after the last point, it’s ok; that’s why there are professionals in the health/fitness industry. Olympians may seem like experts in their sport, which is true, but they have a lot of help. This can be a hard one to swallow. As a fitness professional I have learned that I need help with what is my “expertise.”  Just as a physician needs their own physician, a personal trainer can benefit from having their own trainer. Olympians have a team of people helping them. If you are struggling to find balance or with one particular aspect of your well-being, ask a professional. The best of the best need help, and most importantly aren’t afraid to ask for it!
  7. Have passion- Love what you are doing! At age 37, Todd Lodwick is the first American athlete to participate in six Winter Games. He has made his sport a lifestyle. There are realistically times when these athletes feel overwhelmed or burnt out throughout their journey, but they don’t let this derail them because they have passion for what they do. These athletes have to love the sport to dedicate so much of their lives to it. Find activities and healthy habits that you enjoy that will be sustainable through your whole life. 

If you were an Olympic athlete what would be your sport?

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Topics: active living exercise and wellness goals success

5 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

setting smart goals resized 600First and foremost, let’s make some things clear about resolutions. When you make a resolution, you have to remember that it is not just a commitment for January 1; it is for 365 days. Make sure from the beginning it is something that is a long-term goal and a change you want to see. If it is something you have repeatedly tried to do each year, it may be time to reevaluate and come up with a different strategy this year. Otherwise, you will set yourself up to fail.

Don’t be the object of the new year’s resolution jokes. Come into the new year with the mindset that resolutions are achievable if you set yourself up for success. Here are some ways that you can do this.

Make Your Resolutions SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound:

  • Specific: Make resolutions clear, concise, and well-defined.
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a way to measure your progress and success. Goals should have time frames, dates, amounts, and other quantifiable numbers.
  • Attainable/realistic: Your goal should be something that is manageable, and something you believe you can succeed in reaching.
  • Time bound: Have a starting point and an end point. Resolutions that will take place over the entire year should be broken down into short-term and longer-term goals.

Choose the Right Resolutions

If you decide to do something, it has to be something that you want to do. Pick something that has meaning behind it for you personally. Oftentimes resolutions come from outside sources and pressures. If the idea originates with you, you’re more likely to commit.

Stick Your Resolutions with Existing Habits

The easier you make the habit, the more likely you are to stick to it. If your resolution is to take a vitamin every day, put the vitamin container next to your toothbrush that you use each morning. Make the new habit part of an existing one.

Give Yourself a Trial Run

Try your resolution for at least 21 days (it takes at least this long to create a habit). Give yourself these days as a trial period. This will give you some room to make mistakes and tweak your goal to make it more realistic.

Measure Your Progress

Many of us get frustrated and give up on resolutions because we have tunnel vision to the end result, which may take all 365 days to achieve. If your resolutions and goals are smart, it should be easy to track the progress you are making, which will help keep you motivated. 

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Topics: motivation behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action