Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Roxanne Musselman

Recent Posts by Roxanne Musselman:

Why I've worked for NIFS for 16 years and counting

NIFS | NIFS Health and Fitness ProfessionalsMaybe you've seen some of the chatter online about employers shifting their focus to providing a workplace where employees enjoy what they do and where they have an opportunity to feel like they're contributing to a bigger picture. As I've done more reading in this area, it dawned on me just how much this rings true for my work.  At The National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS), we hold this perspective to a high standard and it  really is the core of who we are. For years, we’ve supported staff in their work/life balance and creating positive environments where employees can show up and not just contribute, but thrive in their career.

One of the ways this positive culture shows up is in our employee tenure figures. The service sector has notoriously high turnover, but when we took a closer look at our numbers, we calculated that the average tenure in our department was almost four and a half years, more than 50% higher than the industry average. Honestly, I wasn’t super surprised at this because our standards at NIFS are unapologetically high. We have always been dedicated to providing service excellence to all of our clients; we’re similarly committed to doing our very best work for each other. 

In my 16 year career with NIFS managing corporate fitness facilities (and 11 as a supervisor), I can tell you that I’ve seen evidence of our thriving environment in the regular positive feedback from staff about how enjoyable it is to work for our organization. I’ve also experienced this enjoyment myself and I truly appreciate working for a company that is both an expert in corporate and senior living fitness, and in treating their employees with the same kindness and professionalism that we do our clients and members.

Our management team and mentors are highly experienced and extremely willing to lead the way. There's never been a moment where I felt like I didn't have the  support that I needed from my supervisor or from our organization. In fact, the support that I have received is one of the reasons I have been on board for as long as I have. Because we're a nimble organization, it's easy to find answers and guidance quickly around every corner at NIFS, which means you have what you need so this in turn builds confidence in your quest to being the best you can be in your role. If respected leadership lands at the top of your career wish list, look no further.

We don’t cut cookies at NIFS, we build sandcastles. Our programs, services, and forward thinking approach towards the future of corporate fitness management and active aging services are unique and individualized. Our ability to customize increases with each new client, and every new staff member we welcome. Because of that philosophy, our Corporate Fitness and Active Aging teams are regularly growing and we’re always looking for the right fit to join our team. If you’re inspired by what you just read, we invite you to consider our organization and stay connected with us so you can open the door to a new, exciting, fulfilling career path. 

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Topics: job opportunities in corporate fitness corporate fitness careers fitness careers

3 Techniques to Relieving Stress that Don't Involve Going Overboard 

When it comes to stress, my belief is that you need a full tool kit of remedies for the different levels and types of stress that life tends to throw your way. Daily stresses or, “good stress” is defined as eustress. For me, this form of stress is fairly manageable with a routine that keeps my body grounded and focused, and allows me to burn off that extra energy with exercise. Eustress is short-term, it can cause your body to feel excited or energized, can serve as a motivational force to get tasks accomplished and is deemed as they type of stress people can “cope” with. 

NIFS | Tips for Stress Relief

However, when life decides to start pulling back the bow, stress can get more difficult to manage. When the arrows start flying, that’s when you need an arsenal of serious stress coping tools. This is the stress we all dread and is more challenging to cope with and manage. It’s called distress; it causes anxiety, can lead to physical illnesses or pain, and it can cause a decrease in performance.

[Read More: How Stress Affects the Body and Your Health]

It can make you feel pretty crummy if it sticks around a while. Tension can build from stress so watch for signs of this in your neck, upper and lower back, temples, and head. For me, these pains are red flags that stress is starting to cross over into the distress area. Without immediate attention you can become more susceptible to developing a cold, suffering headaches, or sleeping poorly. This is an area you want to stay away from so don’t ignore these symptoms! 

You want to be armed with different tactics depending on the stress, so let’s discuss some options to help you build your own stress reliving tool box. Just as perception of what leads to positive and negative stress varies from person to person, stress management techniques are also individual. I need physical activity to help my mind decompress at the end of the day as compared to some who need to take a hot bath before bed. The key to winning the battle against stress is to find what works for you. Below are some of my tools for keeping different levels of stress at bay and how they can help your mind, body and soul get through stressful situations.

Exercise 

This can happen in many forms. My daily go to is something that increases the heart-rate and challenges the body. It offers my mind a chance to wander, to think about non-work related items, and to day dream. When I really need to pound it out, I use workouts to push my physical limits. At other times, if I have a lot of head and neck tension from stress, I don’t always choose heart-thumping cardio exercise; sometimes a Yoga class is the right choice to ground my thoughts and body.

Research has proven that exercise packs a punch when trying to reduce stress. This natural medicine can put stress in its place by increasing endorphins which help improve your mood. Exercise can also take your mind off of the daily pressures just by allowing you to divert your focus elsewhere. Other benefits of exercising can include lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and depression and improved sleep.  

Mind, Body, Connection

There are times when your mind will just take over and it causes a disconnect from your body. Call it what you will, up in your head, the ego, losing your mind, etc. Whatever you refer to it as, the risk is that you’ve become separated from what your body is telling you. We’ve all seen examples of this. Think of the guy on his cell phone that starts to cross the street without realizing there are cars coming right at him. Or maybe you’ve had the experience of driving home from work and suddenly finding yourself at your driveway without realizing how you got there. You show up to work with two different shoes or mismatched socks, or you drop the kids off at swimming when they should be at violin practice. These are signs that your mind is probably in overdrive dealing with the stressful factors of life. Your coping abilities are being pushed to the limits.

To avoid these scenarios, meditation is a great way to clear your mind. Studies have shown that even short bouts of meditation and shutting your brain off (or even trying) can have significant impacts on stress. The benefits of meditation surpass just stress relief and tip-toe into physical and mental benefits. If you’re not in to meditation or Yoga, check out these alternatives for mental relaxation and stress relief.

Take Comfort

A little self-love goes a long way.  Consider a long bath with a splash of lavender oil and a good book!  Old-fashioned rest can be just ask effective for relieving stress for many people; put your phone down and your feet up with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite TV series or a movie. Or, maybe taking your time in the kitchen and cooking your favorite dinner brings you comfort. Sometimes a complete wind down (as opposed to a workout) is the best choice to manage your stress. Think about what will take your mind off of the daily pressures and bring joy back into your life. Literally, slowing down to smell the roses can put stress into perspective and signal to your body that everything really is going to be okay. We have other tips for stress relief so we hope you'll click below to learn more. 

12 Unconventional Tips for Managing Stress

Topics: stress stress relief distress stress management eustress

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part III - Workplace Relaxation

In the first two blogs from this series, I wrote about offering healthier food at work and moving more throughout the day. Our last topic in this series is the one that excites me the most because I love the idea of being able to positively influence the work space for my colleagues. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to hire a design expert. All I’m asking is that you consider the idea of RELAXATION in the workplace (gasp).

Try closing your eyes on some of these ideas to envision what makes you feel calm and takes you away for a moment. If you can conjure up a few mental images that bring peace, just apply those to the ideas below and you’ll be in good shape. If that’s not up your alley, you could even ask for volunteers at your company. You might be pleasantly surprised with what kind of workplace wonder they conjure up.

Retreat - Relaxation or meditation rooms are a great option for giving your employees some breathing room, or a place for some peace and quiet during the day. Since our culture hasn’t given in to the afternoon siesta idea yet, I think this is a nice runner-up. If your building has some unused space, it can easily be transformed into simple room for meditation, quiet break areas, or dare I say some quick shut eye. A natural, calm color of fresh paint, a comfortable chair, a small table, non-florescent lights or a lamp, a few pieces of artwork and you’re all set. Think spa-day, massage room or Zen like atmosphere, and you’re on the right path for offering a perfect retreat. Employees can then schedule time in the room with an online calendar system. However, you may have to limit the amount of time that can be spent in the room so everyone has a chance to benefit from the space.

Kids’ corner – We all yearn to be carefree like a child again but we know that’s not possible in the world of adulting. However, you can offer a space where employees can live out there childhood pastimes and creative ventures. This also doesn’t take much to put in place, but you will need some extra room for this one as well. This nook can have items like puzzles, cards, board games, Sudoko, coloring books and fine-point markers. The goal is to make a creative, fun space for your employees to escape into the enjoyments of non-work related activities that reduce stress levels, are carefree, and offer some mental decompression from their job. Another added benefit is that your employees might run in to some social banter that they don’t get from standing in the cafeteria line. Some may enjoy the opportunity to socialize with other employees. 

NIFS | Coloring  | Stress Relief

Home away from home – Some sites are calling these hang out rooms, or community centers, but I prefer the term, living room. I think that conveys the message clearly and you immediately are taken to a comforting area where you can relax and kick up your feet. Designing a small area where employees get away from the work environment for a few minutes seems to go over really well. They might choose to have their lunch there, read a magazine or book, listen to some calming music, bring their coffee or tea, chat with other co-workers, and just momentarily escape from their everyday work responsibilities. Not only is this convenient for your employees but it’s also a beneficial way to give their mind a break so they can go back to their job refreshed and rejuvenated.

That’s it for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips on improving your work environment and offering healthier more active meetings. Even if you try to implement just one of these, you could get some really positive feedback from your employees. It doesn’t take much for them to feel appreciated, so see where you can go with this and my hopes are that you’ll gain a growing fan base at your organization.

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Topics: stress employee wellness corporate wellness success corporate wellness programs workplace wellness stress management

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part II - Everyday is Moving Day

This topic may not make you drool like the first one we did on workplace food, but it is something that we know needs to be addressed. MOVING. It’s just one of those things we cannot get around in the corporate world, and no matter what you do in a typical office setting, employees are likely to be performing their job responsibilities on the phone or in front of a computer. Sitting down. All day long. So how can we make some improvements in this area without mandating walks every few hours? Below are some ideas to help employees move more during their day and to ensure they are encouraged and given the opportunity to move while attending meetings and maneuvering throughout their day.Woman at Computer Stretching GettyImages-501332192.jpg

Stretch your meetings – We’ve all either presented to an audience who’s drifting off (or we’ve been the drifters). One way to prevent this is to take short breaks during the meeting. Have your entire audience stand up, and provide some quick stretches. If you don’t feel comfortable leading the stretches, add a few slides to your presentation that will pop up as a reminder to take a break during your meeting. This will get their blood moving, out of their seats, and will help them remain focused on what you have to say. If you happen to have an onsite fitness center with staff, this is a great time to have them break the monotony with a quick stretch break for you! The same thing can be done if you manage a department of people. Have them take a quick break from calls and looking at their computer screens to stretch their necks, hands, arms and upper back. These areas can take a beating with lack of movement, and your employees will appreciate the time you’ve taken to invest in their well-being with a simple stretch break.

[Read More: 5 tips to help your employees move more]

Stand up for yourself – Literally. I mean stand up for yourself and work while you’re at it! The harmful effects of sitting have been widely published, and while a standing workstation won’t fix everything, it’s an option to help employees move more. This is an investment so consider purchasing only a few where employees can have access to it for 15-30 minutes during the day.  How else can you encourage your employees to get more movement throughout the day? Here are several suggestions. Rather than giving every desk a trash can, have a community trash area so employees have to get up to throw items away. Store your lunch in a refrigerator that’s down the hall or on a different floor. Use the stairs as much as possible, even if it is just going down, or have a 3 flight rule. If you aren’t going more than 3 flights, take the stairs, always! Encourage walking breaks or group walks. I also love the idea of an adjustable desk. This is another investment but well worth it so you can combine sitting and standing during the work day.

Sound the alarm – We’re all guilty of getting so involved in a task that we lose track of time and the next thing you know, you haven’t moved from your seat for hours. Some companies are using their intercom system to remind employees to get out of their seats for a moment. This can be a quick stretch, walk down the hall, or water break. Whatever it is, the reminder is set so we don’t get lost in time and forget to move our bodies. This can also be accomplished by setting a reoccurring Outlook reminder, or if you’re managing a department, you can pre-set several emails per day to spark your team to move. Dare I suggest that department leads also consider more interaction with their employees with a vocal prompt to stand up and move a bit during certain times of the day. Now we're getting somewhere! 

I'll let these ideas jog through your mind until next week when I offer the last part in this series. I will say it happens to be more slow paced. Can we afford a slow pace in today's corporate world? I believe the answer is yes. 

Tips for a Healthier Wok Environtment - Part I

Topics: corporate wellness stretching corporate wellness programs workplace wellness happy employees healthy work environment stretch break

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part I - Food Check

Are you seeking ways to introduce healthier elements into your work environment and meetings? It’s a great idea and one that makes employees feel appreciated and valued by their organization. In surveys where employees are asked if they are supported by their company or manager, too many times I’ve seen that they do not respond with positive feedback. What I DO see is a plea for better options and support from their managers as they try to implement a healthier lifestyle. I also don’t think they are looking for a grandiose gesture, but just sincere thoughtfulness that makes them feel like their employer CARES for them and their well-being. If you’d like to raise the bar on how your employees feel you’re supporting their health, follow our 3-part blog series on designing a healthy workplace.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. FOOD.

Hit the bar – Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking the place you go for happy hour. I’m talking about hosting a healthy food bar at work. The all too familiar donuts, cookies, and cakes that are served as rewards and celebrations is getting to be too sweet of a deal. It’s a nice thought but what your employees may rather have is something that they can indulge in and not get off track with their nutrition goals.

Rather than rewarding with sweets, try offering something that communicates your commitment to helping employees live well. Consider hosting a healthy bagel bar (buy the mini bagels) with low-fat cream cheese options, smoked salmon, PB&J, avocado, almond butter, hard boiled eggs and bananas as toppings. Try a yogurt bar that you can fill with fruits, nuts, seeds and honey. You can also go vegan, and avoid lactose with some non-traditional varieties of yogurt. If you’re looking for something to top that, why not bring in a smoothie vendor to offer several of their most popular varieties? These can have ingredients that include your favorite fruits but also vegetables, wheat grass, green tea, vitamins, and protein powder. Can I get an AMEN for sneaking in veggies and other healthy ingredients?

Food Truck Open GettyImages-645575706.jpg

Truck it – I’m talking about Food Trucks of course! These days, there are a variety of choices for bringing healthy options TO your employees. Yes, there are plenty of unhealthy options in this area but I’d like to focus on something modern, different and possibly out of the ordinary for rewarding your employees. I suggest you to take some time to research local, healthy food trucks. You’ll find varieties that include smoothie trucks, fresh organic salads and sandwiches, locally raised and hormone free options, vegan trucks and changing menus depending on what’s in season. Not only is this a trendy idea but it supports your local businesses and it also gets your employees up and moving toward fresh air.

If this event goes over well, you could line up several healthy options in the future (for example, first Friday of the month is “Food Truck Friday”). Some trucks might need a guarantee so they know the trip is worth their time, but if you can provide a certain amount of free sample items for your employees, most likely they will purchase more when they get to the front of the line. That’s a win for the employees and for the truck owner. If your culture supports an eat-at-your-desk mentality, you may have to get creative to encourage your employees to truly use their lunch break. (Side note – it also supports your local economy, so this is truly a win-win.)

Demo-day – You’ve probably tried something like lunch and learns, health professionals coming in to do presentations, and different health screenings. I don’t think these are a bad idea in their traditional form, but how about considering something more light-hearted, that smells delicious and is also educational. See what you can cook up for a chef or a registered dietitian offering a healthy cooking demonstration for your employees. Not only do the employees get some delicious taste tests at work, but their families may also benefit from new and delicious recipes as well.

The reward system – It’s common to see food as a reward for a job well done.  But I’d like to turn that on its head. Providing access to healthier choices for your employees creates a whole environment and workplace experience that’s rewarding. There are several ways you can do this and I’m sure at least one will be doable at your organization. If you have a cafeteria, try a reward or discount program for the healthy items. Here are some examples on how to offer this. If employees choose the salad bar, sandwich station, fresh fruit or soup, they get a certain discount on their total bill. If the system is set up where the cost of a healthier choice is lower than the unhealthy options, employees are more likely to grab some greens for lunch.

If that sounds like something you’d like to dip your toes in, but either don’t have a cafeteria or it seems like a big jump, you can start with your vending machines. Talk to your vending machine provider and ask for healthier options, label them and give a discount on these items. You can also consider completely revamping your vending machine offerings for a healthy, fresh version. You might see items in these machines like apples, hard boiled eggs, veggie and hummus dip, bake potato chips, and organically made items. Don’t forget to consider your vending beverages too! Skip the soda and offer naturally flavored water, teas, Kombucha, almond milk and coconut water.

Food will ALWAYS be a hot topic and it’s a good place to consider some welcome changes at your workplace. Give your employees some natural energy through healthy food and drinks so they can keep their eyes open during the 2 o’clock slump. They will thank you for it, and maybe you’ll see some positive changes in productivity, and how your employees feel about the way are you are supporting them.

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Topics: corporate wellness Wellness in the Workplace corporate wellness programs wellness programming workplace wellness happy employees healthy work environment

Short Group Fitness Breaks Overcome Commitment Issues

ThinkstockPhotos-119386421.jpgWe’re onto something in corporate fitness, and guess what? It involves no commitment. I know what you’re thinking; it goes against everything we’ve always said. You have to commit to a workout plan, commit to changing one thing at a time, commit to your goals, commit to this, and commit to that. No wonder we’re all scared of the “C word”!

Not only do we commit to our health journey every day and do our best, but we also have many other obligations: work schedules, family events, volunteer activities, and more. It’s a heavy load, and many feel lost without their handy planner, online calendar, phone, or other gadget to keep it all together.

We’re a society that loves to feel busy, and some even feel more empowered by the more they do. Newsflash: it’s exhausting! Add one more thing to that calendar and some feel like an overinflated balloon. We get it, or at least we’re starting to get it. How can we continue to help our clients on their health journey without breathing that one last breath of air into their already full balloon? For starters, we don’t want your commitment.

Healthy Habits Should Come Naturally

Now don’t get me wrong, committing to a healthy lifestyle is important and should never fall to the bottom of the list. However, it’s also not something you need to add to your calendar. It’s continuous and ever-evolving; so whether it’s a walk, a salad or smoothie, a few moments to breathe, refilling your water bottle, or getting enough rest, many of these things come automatically. There’s no scheduling these, and there’s no plugging them into a calendar. These are signs of a well-rounded health passage, and reassurance that it’s become somewhat instinctual to take care of your mind and body.

If you feel this way, good for you; it’s an excellent start! But what if you’re not in this boat? What if you do need these reminders? It’s just one more thing to commit to and add to the long list of things “to do.” You’re not alone. Many feel this way, and we’ve found something that alleviates the problem. Are you excited? Me too, so let’s get down to the good stuff.

Join the Impromptu Fitness Fun

Our staff are starting to do impromptu stretch breaks, brief meditation introductions, and mild exercise instruction with no obligation. That’s right, no signing up ahead of time, no paying, no email confirmation required, no Outlook invite—none of that. We’re asking you just to show up if time allows.

When, you ask, do these activities occur? The answer is “I don’t know,” and neither does our staff in many cases. They may have an hour on a Tuesday at 2pm or a Thursday at 10am. We’re looking for any free time possible, just as you are. All we’re doing is sending out and a spur-of-the-moment email to members and associates about the quick activity, and they are actually showing up! In decent numbers, too—usually more than our group exercise class participation.

Why? Well, this is my theory. First of all, we aren’t asking for a commitment. Second, I think people enjoy the element of surprise. Imagine you’re plugging away at work thinking about your schedule, upcoming calls, what’s for dinner, when do I need to pick up the kids, and suddenly you get an email that says, “Join us in an hour for a stretch break in the quad.” Your calendar looks clear, it’s only for a short amount of time, and I don’t have to change clothes, so yes I think I’ll go! Miraculously we’re opening the door to two things that most people enjoy: no commitment and a nice surprise. It seems to be well received, and anything well received is worth pursuing. As long as there is no commitment, of course. 

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Want to find out more about how to make group fitness work for your employees?

Download Now: 3 Keys to adding Group Fitness at Work

Topics: corporate fitness NIFS healthy habits group fitness commitment

12 Days of Fitness: Keep Participants Active During the Holidays

When it comes to the holidays, everyone seems to be short on everything: time, money, patience, you name it. We are, however, enjoying longer lines and longer wait times! With all of this in mind, fitness can easily be put on the back burner. There are parties to attend, various people to shop for, and light shows to see, so it’s safe to say that spending hours at the gym is not something most people are doing this time of year. Now come January, that’s a different story!

snowmanPutting a Fitness Spin on a Holiday Tradition

Our staff have found various ways of putting a fitness spin on an old holiday tradition. It’s a program called the 12 Days of Fitness, and it works really well to get people moving during this busy season. When you think of 12 days, it doesn’t seem like a long time—and frankly, that’s exactly the point! Yet, 12 days of burning calories, educating people, and having some fun can have a positive impact for the participants.

We’ve had several sites record a 100% completion rate for this program, and we think the key to success is making each day count with simple but impactful activities and including something that is truly encouraging for the participants.

12 Tips for Creating a Holiday Fitness Program

 Below are our 12 best tips for how you can create your own fun and effective 12 Days of Fitness program.

  1.  Offer quick yet challenging workouts since time is of the essence during the holidays. Short 10 to 20-minute classes or challenges will get people in and out. Tis the season to be efficient and effective!

  2. Let’s face it: prizes both pull people in and keep them coming back. Have a daily drawing or a daily competition where one prize is offered on each day of the program. Keep the prizes health and fitness related to further emphasize a healthy outlook.

  3. Hosting lunchtime classes or activities gives associates an alternative to those not-so-healthy holiday luncheons or parties. The potential for binging is everywhere; why not create your 12 Days of Fitness as a respite for employees looking for a healthier escape? 

  4. Get creative with classes or activities that you offer. Provide the participants with exercises they can easily do at home, or offer new and exciting ones to keep them out of an exercise rut. You might try dance-style classes or incorporate an exercise scavenger hunt in your facility.

  5. Use the program as a learning experience. Show participants healthy recipes or even host a healthy holiday party offering samples of modified or low-calorie snacks, appetizers, main dishes, and drinks.

  6. Make participants accountable. Post the exercise or activity of the day and require that the staff sign off when it has been completed. 

  7. Encourage associates who work at home to participate. Send them emails with exercise pictures or video demonstrations. It’s important for people to know they always have time to squeeze some activity into their day no matter where they are located.

  8. If you’re focused on getting employees into your corporate fitness center, require that some of the exercises and activities be performed in the facility. This also gives you a chance to see and speak with the participants.

  9. Incorporate stress reduction and relaxation into the program. You can do this by offering educational materials on these topics, or more interactive things like hosting a free yoga class or 10-minute chair massages.

  10. Add a personal touch. Send out emails or make phone calls to check in with participants who have missed a day or one of the required activities or exercises.

  11. Incorporate teamwork into the program. Similar to our Maintain Not Gain program, working with a partner can increase the chances of success. You can do this in the classes you offer; you can require a partner for certain exercises, or even add a referral component where participants encourage nonmembers to join and participate.

  12. Celebrate their accomplishment! Being successful is key, but everyone can feel a sense of accomplishment if managed correctly. Besides the daily drawings, offer all successful participants something at the end of the program. This can be a prize, but it can also be wrapping the successful participants’ names around some lights and words of encouragement for all to see. Make your participants feel proud of sticking to a healthy routine during the holidays. They’ll surely thank you later, and might even ask for more programs like

If you’re not offering a holiday program, this just might be your key to keeping participation numbers up and the pounds and stress levels down. Use some of the above ideas for developing your own 12 Days of Fitness and see what kind of difference you can make this season.  Or, if it's the wrong time of year for this type of program, grab our quick read outlining how you can build a more successful corporate fitness center.

Download: 3 Keys to  Successful Fitness Center

Topics: engagement best practice program planning

Corporate Wellness: Tipping the scale with NIFS Maintain Not Gain program – part 2

group_weighIn the first section of this blog, we outlined some of the core elements that frame Maintain Not Gain.  They’re the pieces that give the program its powerful punch:  it’s team-based, with a little grace, and big time visibility. In part two, we’re going to dive into the facts and see how the program actually works.

It’s not enough to set up a great program where participants form teams, then sign up with the best of intentions, and weigh in on a gigantic scale.  It simply doesn’t guarantee their success.  We take very seriously that it is our job to educate the participants, to motivate them and to provide constant reminders and reinforcements that they CAN be successful at maintaining their weight.   We provide that support in a variety of ways such as:

  • Weekly emails. Over the years we’ve changed the topics, added emails about current trends, low-fat recipes, stress tips.  You name it, we’ve touched on it.   In fact, we’d written so many emails over the years for this program that we started wondering about their effectiveness.  So in 2012, we evaluated the program and asked participants what other topics would they like to see in the weekly emails. We were expecting to hear about new exciting topics to cover for the next year but what we discovered was that people still wanted to know about the basics; blood pressure, BMI, diabetes, cholesterol, etc. You would think by now with the internet, the news, health magazines, Dr. Oz, the constant feed of this kind of information, that people would be sick of it and know it by heart.  For our audiences, that was not the case. So, for our 2013 weekly emails we covered the basics again meeting the requests of our participants.
  • Nutrition education.  We know that our members seem to have an insatiable appetite for health education.  In particular, they routinely ask about nutrition.  Our staff constantly get asked about food, drinks, supplements, fad diets, cleanses, juicing, etc.  Turns out, when we asked our participants if they felt the food in their corporate environment was supportive of their Maintain Not Gain goals over the holidays, 15% said no. While we weren’t happy with that percentage, we used that information to communicate with department leads about making different options when providing food for their departments. We have been able to suggest alternatives such as a less calorie dense yogurt bar filled with fruits, granola and healthy toppings, providing smoothies or even bagels made from whole grains and low-fat cream cheese. We’ve also worked with cafeteria vendors so they can put together a healthier spread if they provide the breakfast, lunches or snacks for departments.

The Numbers Tell The Story

We’ve surveyed participants regularly throughout many offerings of the program.  We’ve learned a lot from the data about how we can provide a better program, and we’ve also learned about what participants are gaining from their efforts:

  •  90% of the participants said Maintain Not Gain has positively influenced their lifestyle choices for the duration of the program.
  •  72% of those who responded said that they were able to reduce their calorie consumption
  • 56% said they increased their daily activity
  • 60% said they ate healthier at holiday parties, and
  • 30% said they reduced the fat in their own recipes.

The biggest reason we’ve been running this program for so long is because it works.  From the participants we surveyed, 87% were successful in avoiding any holiday weight gain and 97% said they will participate next year if the program is offered.

Not only have our participants maintained their weight but we also have many participants who actually LOSE a few pounds. That’s quite impressive over the holidays. In 2013, with one client, we had 2,242 associates sign up for Maintain Not Gain and 1,780 of those participants were successful in maintaining their weight over the holidays. That’s an 80% success rate. Bottom line, we are tipping the scales in the RIGHT direction with our Maintain Not Gain program.

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: employee wellness Corporate Best Practices,

Corporate Wellness: Tipping the scale with NIFS Maintain Not Gain program – part 1

MNG_LogoThere is more to maintaining your weight over the year-end holiday season than simply weighing in before Thanksgiving and weighing out after New Year’s Day.  Still, before we go off the deep end with ridiculous claims about holiday or year-end weight gain, let’s get the facts.  Despite common claims that traditional holiday weight gain is seven pounds or more, the research shows that people typically only gain one to two pounds during the holidays.  The problem with that minimal gain is that studies show many people never get those extra few pounds back off and, over the course of an adult lifetime, what once seemed like inconsequential weight gain can become a significant health issue.   It’s also worth nothing that at least one study  found that adults who are already overweight are more likely to gain five pounds or more during the holiday season.

Given that there’s an appetite to maintain weight during the party-going-season that is the holidays, many business have folded holiday weight loss or weight maintenance challenges into their annual programming.  NIFS, in fact, has been offering our Maintain Not Gain program to our clients for more than 12 years.  And we think we’ve gotten pretty good at it, but our offering is done with a few different, but powerful twists. 

The Power of the Team

You see, we understand the impact of social networks on weight gain; we also know that teamwork can impact weight loss.  So rather than leaving participants to fend for themselves against their natural networks who may be inadvertently working against them, we decided to opt for the team approach.  It doesn’t take pounds of scientific papers to understand why we chose teams as the basis for participation in our Maintain Not Gain program.  If you’ve ever been on a team you know that personal responsibility and accountability increase greatly when others are depending on you for the entire team to be successful. (Do you want to let your team down because you claimed an extra slice of pecan pie and didn’t move your body enough?)

The Power of Forgivenessthanksgiving_dinner

The Maintain Not Gain program is for people, not robots.  We know what it’s really tough to make it through Thanksgiving without overeating, not to mention all the office pitch-ins, family gatherings, and sweet treats that show up deliciously wrapped and calling your name.  We also know that body weight is a dynamic number and we aren’t huge fans of putting undue attention on a single number.  So, we’ve built the program with some grace by giving each participant a two-pound variance.

As an added bonus, the program focuses only on the weight of your team.  So a four person team has an eight pound grace.  If one person gains nine pounds and everyone else loses a teeny bit, then the team can still claim success.  (Of course, we think there’s maybe some room to improve that team’s dynamic.)

The Power of Fun

This program has become such a fantastic tradition for our staff and our members.  One of the ways that some of our sites elevate the initiative is by renting a multi-person scale so all four team members can get on at once for a total weight.  In this case, we do public weigh ins and weigh outs.  It creates quite a scene as participants giggle and gasps when they see the weight of four people!

For fun, we also set up a competition where we offer prizes for the most creative team name and let all the participants decide the winner. A few of my favorites from last year were, Thin it to Win it, Jingles over Jiggles, Dreaming of a Lite Christmas, and Mission Slimpossible.

In part 2,  of this blog we’ll cover the “how to’s” of our program so that you can get busy building this promising program for your own network.

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

 

Topics: employee health Corporate Best Practices,