Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Shawna Kendrick

Recent Posts by Shawna Kendrick:

Brain Training in Your Senior Living Community

517993851-1.jpgMany seniors fear cognitive decline more than any other disease associated with aging. The good news is that engaging in activities that support brain health and brain function can reduce seniors’ risk for cognitive decline and dementia. In fact, training your brain is kind of like training your body with regular exercise, and it can really complement your fitness programs with proper planning. Not sure where to start? Here are five steps to create a focus on brain training in your senior living  community.

  • Do your homework – Learn as much as you can about cognitive health, dementia, and brain training. The Alzheimers Association website is a great resource, and a quick search on the AARP website yields lots of great information on brain health for seniors. There are also many wonderful books on these topics, such as Spark! by John Ratey. This book really does a good job of connecting the dots between exercise, physical health, and cognitive health.
  • Involve the residents – Share the things that you’re learning with residents as you learn them. This can be as simple as teaching a quick fact about the brain at the beginning of exercise classes. Use this opportunity to let the residents know that you’re starting to look into bolstering your cognitive health programming in your community. Ask for their input early to help with your program design. Ask what they already do to train their brains, what kinds of mentally engaging things they enjoy doing, and what topics they would like to learn more about or take a class on.
  • Evaluate your programs and make a plan – Take a look at the current activities that you offer in your community. Do you have many mentally challenging, educational, and social opportunities on your calendar? Are there ways you can enhance your current offerings to make them more engaging? Do you have opportunities for individual brain training (i.e. using the Dakim) as well as brain training in a group setting (i.e. brain fitness class)? Determine activities you can enhance or add to your calendar, and make a plan for these changes utilizing resident input from Step two. Also, brainstorm ways that you can include brain training in your group exercise classes. For example, during cardiovascular exercise, you could assign numbers to five different exercises, and cue the exercises using their assigned numbers instead of the exercise names. Then mix it up!
  • Provide education – Hold lectures to educate residents on how the brain works and what they can do to strengthen their brains and reduce their risk for cognitive decline. Be sure to point out all the ways they can participate in brain training activities at your community and let them know what new activities and enhancements are coming their way. You might also want to hold a lecture on memory strategies (or just teach one strategy at a time at the end of your exercise classes). Don’t forget to promote your fitness programs as one of the easiest ways to get started with brain training!
  • Launch your program – Launch your program soon after you hold the educational lectures – consider using a brain health fair or other fun activity to get started. Begin holding your newly planned activities and enhancements on a regular basis and make sure they stand out on your calendar. Then, use a fun challenge that includes incentives for participating in mentally engaging activities and exercise to tie it all together. Once the challenge ends, celebrate residents’ success and communicate with the residents that the new opportunities for brain training will continue even though the challenge has ended.

Editor's note:  Rachel did a fantastic job launching a "Mental Muscle" initiative for the residents in her community.  Download the impact report from the program to get a snapshot of how well the residents received the offering and how wellness program participation was affected.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how NIFS can support brain training and other programming for your residents.

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Topics: senior living brain fitness

Planning for success in corporate wellness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Topics: program planning CORP Programs and Services

Fitness Center Staffing, Hiring the Best

NIFS-staff-infographic-final.jpg
Topics: senior fitness management nifs fitness management staffing staffing corporate fitness management

It's National Dog Day, Show Your Pet Some Healthy Love!

It’s National Dog Day!  There has been an outpouring of pet love on social media today.  Clearly people love their four legged friends.  Not only are dogs (and cats) wonderful companions, but owning a pet provides more than just sloppy kisses and mounds of fur.  It’s time to bring that relationship full circle and get active with your pet!  Here are just a few benefits of exercise in animals:Family_walk_ThinkstockPhotos-466988813

  • Helps reduce behavior problems such as chewing and excessive barking
  • Improves agility and keeps them limber
  • Reduces digestive problems
  • Improves sleep and decreases restlessness
  • Weight Management

Now that you see your pet’s health benefits from exercise just as your own.  Here are my top 5 things for you to consider and remember when you commit to get fit with your dog!

  1. Exercise Partner – Just like humans, dogs can also become obese.  Not only does walking your pet help to wear them out and burn off some energy, but it will help them maintain their weight as well as your own.  It might even end up that your dog pushes you more than you know.  Fido might keep you more accountable than your coworker does at your corporate fitness center.
  2. Establish a Smart Routine – Whatever type of activity you and your pet enjoy, fit it in at some point throughout the day. Start with short burst of exercise and work your way up.  Just as you should check with a physician prior to starting a workout regimen, your dog should have a check up to.  It’s important for you to know the needs of your dog. 
  3. Swimming – You may have felt a great workout from swimming, less impact on your joints and still gets your heart pumping.  The same goes for dogs.  Consider taking your dog for a swim, whether it’s to fetch a ball or just take a dip.  Larger dogs who may feel the impact of their weight will feel the same relief as you when they get in the water.
  4. Dog Park – Visit your local dog park and make some friends, both you and your pet.  Social wellness is just as important as your physical well-being.  We all know dogs need social interaction for behavior reasons, what about you?
  5. Hydrate – Water is just as important in animals as it is for you.  Make sure your pet is hydrated when increasing activity levels or when it’s hot outside.  What for signs of dehydration such as excessive panting, weakness, and confusion. 

Now get out and get moving after dinner and show your four legged pal some healthy love! 

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Topics: employee health benefits exercise at home healthy living

NIFS Nutrition News: Beware of AdvoCare®, a message from Laura

In 2014, Laura Zavadil, one of our registered dietitians wrote a blog about her work with a corporate fitness client who had a bad experience with AdvoCare® products.  This blog has generated a lot of feedback, conversation, and comments. We want the readers to hear where she was coming from in sharing her opinion on the blog. We appreciate all the feedback and want to encourage positive dialog and sharing of opinions. Thank you for reading.
Check out this blog in regard to what's in your diet.  
Topics: diet and nutrition supplements nifs nutrition news

NIFS Fitness Management: Free Workout Fridays Back in 2015

Free-workout-Friday-final

It's 2015, a fresh start, a new you and what better way to start following our Free Workout Friday blog?  This year we have two new faces to keep you motivated and have scheduled out a year worth of workouts for our readers.  Let's start this first Friday off by meeting the faces behind our 2015 Free Workout Friday Blogs.

adamsMichelle Adams is a corporate fitness manager in Indianapolis.  She began working for NIFS in January 2013.  She really enjoys working in the corporate setting because she is able to get a good variety of being active with employees through teaching group fitness classes while also having the opportunity to design wellness and incentive programs.  Michelle encourages her members to take control of their own health and is very passionate about helping others with their health and wellness goals.  Michelle is currently certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health Fitness Specialist, a group fitness instructor through the American Council on Exercise, and holds specialty certifications in TurboKick and PiYo.

Stephanie Hackett is a health fitness specialist at a corporate client hackettlocation in Indianapolis.  She began with NIFS fitness management shortly after completing her internship with NIFS,  Stephanie loves the variety that comes with the corporate fitness setting.  She is able to teach classes, personal train employees, and implement health promotion programs.  Her favorite part of the job is making those special connections with members to help engage them and keep them coming back.  Stephanie is currently certified through the American Council on Exercise as a personal trainer, and is GEAR Indoor Cycling certified through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

Now that's you've met our staff behind FWF's, let's get started with Stephanie as she takes you through the components of a workout each week in January!

Dynamic Stretching and Warm Up

It is extremely important to give your body a proper warm up before starting a workout. For years, static stretching was the norm. Static stretching means holding a stretch in a challenging but comfortable position for generally 10 to 30 seconds at a time. Research has shown that dynamic stretching is better for you before a workout. Dynamic stretching uses controlled movements that bring muscles through their range of motion without exceeding it. It helps promote blood flow through the muscles and to prepare the body to exercise. Start your warm up with a handful of basic movements targeting the whole body. As you become more experienced, use compound movements to warm up.

Basic: (demonstration video)

  • Arm circles
  • Marching
  • Squats
  • Lunges (front and side)
  • Trunk rotation
  • Arm raises (front and side)

Compound: (demonstration video)

  • Walking lunge with trunk rotation
  • Inch worm
  • Knee hug lunge
  • Side lunge with rotator cuff activation
  • Ankle grab toe touch
  • Arm swings across the chest

Subscribe to our blog to receive every Free Workout Friday directly to your inbox along with other great content from NIFS Fitness Management!

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Topics: exercise at home Free Workout Friday

Corporate Fitness: Increasing Fitness Participation with SKELETONE

SKELETONEYou want to see your corporate fitness center investment being used by your employees and you depend on your fitness center management team to do so.  What if I said one of our managers did exactly that with a simple, fun (and yes, silly) program.  Check out this data:

  • Increased monthly visits by 23% over the previous month
  • Demonstrated a 40% increase in active members who attended the fitness center at least eight times or more compared with the previous month

If you ask me, those are some pretty decent increases in participation compared to the prior month.  Now what if I told you it was done with a fun little incentive called SKELETONE!  It is amazing to think what a bunch of adults will do when you put a fun and silly program on the wall to get them competing with each other to see who can complete building their skeleton first.

The program was simple, after signing up you receive your skull and each time you visit the fitness center and complete a SKELETONE workout you receive a bone to build your skeleton.  The goal was to receive all nine parts to complete the challenge, which for us was more about members visiting the fitness center eight or more times in the month.

I’m sure you’re wondering how this basic program was so successful.  Our corporate fitness center manager knew he wanted to increase monthly visits and really get people to visit more than a handful of times for the month.  Promoting the program was going to be key and he needed to do so outside of the fitness center to get members to enroll.  The client site was having a wellness fair the month prior which created the perfect opportunity to use it as a spring board for promoting what was coming in the fitness center.  When evaluating the program after the fact, he felt that promoting SKELETONE at the event really “salted the jar” and got people interested.  The event alone resulted in 52 participants signing up for the program in advance.

Programming is essential for the big picture in corporate fitness; consider what else you can achieve when you have the attention of members.  Group fitness is a popular at this particular site and with some unfamiliar faces pre-registered for the program it was a great opportunity to promote classes and increase participation for the month.  By adding a twist to the program where participants receive an extra bone for their skeleton when they attended a group fitness class, participation in the group exercise program jumped 51% over the previous month!

Our corporate fitness staff utilizes fun programs such as this one to keep our members engaged.  Adding fun to the workout makes participants want to complete their workout, step away from their desk, and enjoy fitting exercise into their day.  Interested in other ways our staff engage clients?  Check out our Best Practices and see why NIFS Corporate Fitness Management staff is top notch!

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: Corporate Best Practices,

Corporate Fitness: How to engage employees in a manufacturing setting

hot_tired_employeeYou have established an employee wellness program for your employees, maybe you even have an onsite fitness center available free of cost to your workforce.  What you’re finding is that after a long shift of being on their feet, and a couple hours of over-time your workforce is exhausted.   It’s hot, some of their work areas do not have air conditioning and they feel they have sweat enough and now you want them to exercise?   They already feel like you control their lives, they are work 6 days a week and they don’t want to be required to do more.  They are ready to get home, spend some time with their families before waking up to do it all over again.  As the employer you are left feeling like your investment isn’t being utilized by employees.  It can be frustrating, it's free to them, you have provided top notch equipment, what else could they want?  Consider what has been implemented and survey your employees and find out what barriers keep them from utilizing your onsite corporate fitness center or participating in wellness offerings.

You might find there are a variety of reasons that prevent your employees’ ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Whether it is work, family life that is jammed packed with their children’s activities, appointments, volunteer commitments, you can relate to needing to get home after a long day.  Consider the following ways to engage your workforce to be more involved in your onsite corporate wellness program.

1)      Engage them at work!  You can’t always expect employees to get involved on their own time.  Show that you support the use of the onsite fitness center, or involvement by offering time during their day to participate in wellness activities.  Consider how you can get employees moving during a 15 minute break with brief walking groups or stretch sessions. Showing employees that you can relate to them will go a long way. 

2)      Team collaboration.  It’s time to come together as a team.  Whether you out source your fitness center staff, or have an in-house team they can collaborate with HR by providing new hire presentations to initiate involvement in your fitness and wellness program.  If you have a health service department, your fitness team can work with them to offer lifestyle modification programming to target individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, or weight management issues.

3)      Offer incentives.  Prizes go a long way and don’t always have to be expensive.  When budgeting for the year consider incentive prizes to pair with your programming such as fitness gear, it’s amazing what people will do for a new shirt, gym bag, medicine ball, etc.  Other items to consider would be pedometers, fit bits, polar watches, and gift cards.  Most employees need that little incentive to push them to participate.

4)      Involve families.  Your employee’s families also affect your company’s health care costs.  Create an event to draw in spouses and dependents to teach them about your wellness offerings.  Consider a weekend wellness fair or make it a component of your employee appreciation picnics. 

5)      Devote a day.  Whether it be once a month, or once a year dedicate a time which focuses on the health and wellbeing of your workforce.  Incorporate a monthly Wellness Wednesday event where your wellness staff can provide screenings such as blood pressure, flexibility, or body composition screenings.  These can be set up in a hallway, cafeteria, or break time gathering area to engage members with a hands’ on approach while they are off line. 

Employees don’t want to feel forced into participating, but having support from the top does encourage employees.  Check out this blog post about how CEO support can help drive your corporate wellness results. 

Get the ebook:  Why Fitness Initiatives Fail

Topics: corporate wellness

How to get employees moving with great wellness programs

logoOur staff has found that getting employees moving can be difficult.  It is very often that our members speak of a variety of barriers that prevent them from exercising.  We have all experienced hectic schedules that interfere such as work meetings and events, overtime, family events such as a child’s activities.  It’s our job to help our members find ways to fit it in to their schedule, make time for themselves to live a healthier lifestyle.   Be Active Be Fit is a program that was developed to encourage participants to strive for 150 minutes of physical activity a week for 8 weeks.  Participants are encouraged to count any time they are doing physical activity no matter what the activity.  Whether you prefer to bike or run, maybe you walk or swim, right down to mowing the yard and cleaning the house with reasonable effort can count. 

This program was implemented at a couple different client locations earlier this year.  One staff member implemented an intranet site to better reach employees who don’t visit the fitness center to allow them to participate.  Sixty percent of participants surveyed post program stated that they liked being able to view the program online.   Also implemented were weekly challenges to encourage members to strive to try new things.  This staff member provided educational pieces to help his members better understand portion sizes and caloric intake.  One challenge educated participants on how to establish their estimated target heart rate, 34% indicated this was something they learned due to the program.

The simplicity of implementing and participating in this program really helped with its success.   Members entered their weekly minutes via a survey where the staff could export the weekly results for quick access to the program data.  This program successfully encouraged people to be more active with 55% indicating that Be Active Be Fit helped motivate them to continue with their program. 

Consider these simple steps when implementing a wellness program similar to NIFS Be Active Be Fit:

  • Establish a goal – what are you wanting members to achieve and how do you plan to reach your goal?  Establish what you want to achieve and outline what you can do to best implement and achieve the results you are hoping for.
  • Educate participants – use this opportunity to educate your employees about health and wellness.  Establishing an educational component further delivers the message you are trying to deliver about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Promote and encourage – make sure you are spreading the word about the program.  Use all of your resources to best introduce the program and increase awareness.  Incorporating weekly reminders help keep them going and improve the success rate of the program.
  • Evaluate the program – survey your participants post program.  This will help you better understand the needs of your members as well as better understanding success rate of your program. 

Interested in other ways we engage our clients with great programming?  Subscribe to our Best Practice Series and receive 10 other Best Practices established in NIFS Corporate Fitness Management.

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: nifs best practices nifs fitness center management

Making Fitness Fun in Corporate Wellness

Recess

Your employees may see your corporate wellness offerings as the same thing over and over.  They might even feel pressure to participate which can often lead to them not participating at all.  Consider what might engage employ

ees in a way that makes it fun, a break from work, or even stress relief.  Our corporate fitness staff take client employees back to the days of elementary school RECESS!!!  Recess

Whether it be a single day event, a scheduled group fitness class, or even one day a month throughout the summer consider creating physical activities for your employees that create a fun and welcoming environment for them to be active.  Our staff established recess workout events with a carefree kid-like mentality to engage employees in a full body workout.  Recess events were established to help increase strength and agility while releasing that inner child to get outside and have some fun.

Sample Recess Ideas:

·         Fitness Freeze Tag – a great way to warm up, just like when you were a kid get employees moving with a game of tag.

·         Staff Says – just like Simon says, but insert the leader’s name.  Participants do whatever this individual instructs employees to do, think exercises!  For example, Simon says, do 5 pushups and once a person is out they do a walk/run lap around the area.

·         Red Light, Green Light – get your heart rate up with a game of red light, green light! 

·         RecessDuck, Duck, Goose – add a twist to the old school game, have participants hold a plank or perform sit-ups while one individual walks around deciding who will be goose. 

·         Kickball – get moving by setting up some bases and get a friendly game of kickball going at lunch time.  Nothing says recess like a game of kickball

·         Ultimate Frisbee – split into teams and take it out doors for some ultimate Frisbee.  Add a twist to the game and if they drop the Frisbee they have to complete a designated number of pushups. 

·         Hula hoop - competitions are another great way to take it back to the day of recess fun.  What a great core workout hula hooping can be.  Simply turn it into a contest for a little competition among co-workers.

Plan for Recess Success:

·         Budget and organize in advance – plan activities ahead of time to help outline what you need to purchase and incorporate into your budget.  An investment in hula hoops, a kick ball or Frisbees can be utilized again in the future.

·         Promote accordingly – spread the word to promote your recess event, send an email, post flyers, utilize CCTV if available, announce the event during other organized meetings, group fitness classes, etc.

·         Ask for feedback – connect with participants following the event whether verbally or via a survey.  Collecting feedback, both positive and negative, is one of the best ways to improve your programming in the future.

 

Not only did the employees like the change in their workout, they had a lot of fun.  Check out what participants had to say about the Recess Program:

“The staff keeps fitness fun and entertaining! ….The RECESS class was the perfect mix of childhood memories, fitness, and fun.  Kickball and musical resistance bands were my favorite!“ – Karen E.

“This was a great break from the routine. The games were creative, but the exercises still demanding.” – David C.

“Thanks for showing us corporate types that we can still have fun at work!” – Don H.

“Both of the Recess classes got me out of bed at 5:30! I was wonderfully surprised how effective and fun the workouts were…. The whole time though, everyone was smiling.” – Jennifer P.

“Absolutely loved it!  Felt good to just be goofy (duck, duck, goose, and tag) and enjoy a fun game of kickball.” – Donna K.

“It is hard to top a day that starts with chasing and throwing water balloons at your coworkers!”  - Irma T.

For more of our best practices, click below and recieve 10 other programming ideas implemented by our corporate fitness staff!

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: corporate wellness employee health best practice