Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Shawna Kendrick

Recent Posts by Shawna Kendrick:

Making Fitness Fun in Corporate Wellness


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

NIFS: How to face your fears

face your fearsMy earliest memory of my biggest fear was around age seven or eight. I was playing in my backyard with my childhood best friend on the swing set. We were running around it trying to catch each other when I slipped and fell, cutting my arm. I didn’t even realize I was bleeding until my friend pointed it out to me. Immediately my heart started to race, palms began to sweat, and I quickly lost all the color in my face. The next thing I remember is my Mom and friend standing over me as I lay on the ground after passing out. Every encounter with blood after this episode only amplified this fear, often resulting in avoiding certain situations such as routine blood draws or even jobs that required me to be able to perform a finger stick cholesterol test to fitness center members. Finally, after living with this fear for over twenty years, I finally made up my mind that it was time to face it. What is the one big fear you have in your life? Are you ready to face it? 

4 Tips to Facing Your Fears

1. Start small: Break down your fear and anxiety into smaller, more manageable pieces. I even listed the out in order from 1-10. (10 giving you the highest amount of anxiety and 1 just a small amount) Slowly work your way up the list as your anxiety reduces overtime.

2. Celebrate small victories: Are you afraid of heights and climbed a high amount of stairs, reaching a high elevation? Celebrate that! Have you wanted to take a group fitness class and finally worked up the courage to try one? Way to go! These small victories overtime will help you conquer your fear.

3. Ask for help: When I knew I wanted to overcome my fear, I asked for professional help. I know there are plenty of physiatrists that specialize in overcoming fear and anxiety. There are lots of resources online or by checking with your primary care physician.

4. Take action: Whether you are afraid of heights, spiders, or needles, you must physically face this fear. I overcame my fear of needles and blood with a standard blood draw. I may have looked like the man below, but I did it!  (And didn’t pass out!) 

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Topics: employee health worksite wellness nifs fitness management

NIFS: Go Red for Heart Health

heart healthThe first Friday in February has been designated National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease in women.  Over a decade ago, research showed that heart disease was the leading cause of death in women and was deemed the silent killer because symptoms often go unnoticed. 

There are ways you can take steps to reduce your risk for heart disease, take control of your life and your heart health!

  • Be Active: Get off the couch and get moving.  Individuals who get little to no physical activity are at a much higher risk for heart disease.  Get up and moving daily to increase your physical activity, simply cleaning your house or doing yard work can lower your risk. 
  • Healthy Plate = Healthy Heart: Choose foods low in fat and cholesterol and increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants which help reduce risk!  Your cholesterol levels are also a risk factor, simply improving your diet will help reduce those numbers which in turn will lower your risk.
  • Quit Smoking: CVS recently pulled the plug on selling tobacco, so now it’s your turn to stop smoking.  Individuals who smoke have twice the risk of having a heart attack than non-smokers.  If you need tips for how to quit, talk to your doctor or ask your corporate wellness staff where you can find resources to help you quit.
  • Control Blood Pressure: As the most common risk factor, over fifty million people have hypertension.  If your blood pressure is consistently 140/90 or higher you are considered hypertensive.  Speak with your physician about how to manage your numbers.
  • Manage your Stress: Find what techniques work for you, exercise is a great way to reduce stress.  Make time to incorporate 30 minutes into your day to take your mind off your stressors. Individuals with poorly managed stress are at risk for heart attack or stroke. 

Join the movement to help raise awareness.  Talk to the women in your family to make positive changes in becoming healthier together.

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Topics: heart disease cardiovascular disease nifs fitness management wear red day healthy behaviors

NIFS Nutrition News: Beware of AdvoCare® Weight-Loss Supplements

food vs supplementThis time of year many people are looking to drop excess weight. In their desire to see rapid results, many start a supplement program such as AdvoCare®. I’m writing to warn individuals who may be interested in trying this particular program. First, I will describe the program before sharing my professional (and maybe blunt) opinion as a Registered Dietitian.

The AdvoCare® Weight-Loss Program

AdvoCare® offers a variety of supplements and weight-loss programs, with the 24-Day Challenge being the most popular program. The 24-Day Challenge is the most popular program because it supposedly helps people “get skinny” in just 24 days. The program consists of a 10-day “cleanse” phase followed by an additional 14 days of a “Max” phase. AdvoCare® advertisements claim that the supplements taken during the “cleanse” phase will rid your body of toxins and prepare your body to better absorb nutrients. These supplements include an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and an energy drink. According to AdvoCare®, these supplements will help jump-start your weight-loss efforts by ridding your body of water weight.

The “Max” phase consists of a “metabolic nutrition system,” which claims to increase metabolism, control your appetite, and support core nutrition when the user consumes meal-replacement drinks and more energy drinks. Additionally, this phases includes a meal plan that emphasizes lean proteins (such as ground turkey and chicken breast), non-starchy vegetables (such as asparagus, broccoli, and tomatoes), and complex carbs (such as whole grains, oatmeal, and quinoa).

Why the AdvoCare® 24-Day Challenge Is Bad For You

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let me break down the reasons why this particular AdvoCare® program should come with flashing signs that say “WARNING! DANGEROUS DIETARY HABITS AHEAD!”

  • The supplements included in the “cleanse” phase are quite simply glorified laxatives. Will this reduce your overall body weight? Sure…anything that purges your body of water will reduce your overall body weight. However, these supplements can create electrolyte imbalances within your body that can lead to serious complications, like a heart attack.
  • Any program that advocates the consumption of energy drinks should be considered potentially dangerous. The ingredients in energy drinks are NOT regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and contain artificial ingredients and stimulants. Last I checked, these particular foods are not considered to be a part of a “healthy” meal plan!
  • The meal plan in the “Max” phase claims to provide “core nutrition” without ever defining what this means. If you have to question the definition, it’s probably not a good idea.
  • The good thing about the meal is the emphasis on lean protein, complex carbs, and non-starchy vegetables. The bad thing about the meal plan is its lack of dairy and fruit, which fall far below the number of daily servings recommended by most nutrition professionals. No amount of supplements can replace the natural vitamins and nutrients you get from these foods.

Other Warning Signs About AdvoCare®

Those are my complaints as an RD; however, there are other warning signs that everyone should know. Numerous reports are popping up online in different forums warning other consumers about the safety of these supplements. People are reporting severe health complications such as gastric pains that require hospitalizations, organ failure, and adverse medication interactions. One of my own corporate wellness clients experienced a very serious medical scare while participating in the 24-Day Challenge. Not only did her blood pressure spike significantly during the program, but she also experienced kidney failure despite having no previous risk factors or pre-existing medical problems. Her doctor immediately told her to stop the supplements, and luckily her kidney function and blood-pressure levels were moving back toward normal after two weeks.

To be frank, I’m appalled that products like AdvoCare® are allowed to be sold in our country. It just demonstrates that although many supplements can benefit one’s health, they are not tested and regulated by the FDA.

I encourage anyone who wants to try AdvoCare® or a similar program to consider the warning signs of an unhealthy (and potentially dangerous) diet plan:

  1. If the claim of the program sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Supplements will NEVER replace the nutrient content of whole foods!
  3. Save your money and put it toward your grocery bill. Stock up on the healthy foods your body needs and you’ll be just fine.

The old-fashioned way of losing weight will never change: eat healthy and exercise. Simple, but true.

This blog was written by Laura Zavadil, RD, LDN

A message from the author.

Topics: nutrition weight loss diet and nutrition healthy diet supplements

NIFS Fitness Management: 12 Days of Wellness

December calendarThe holidays are in full swing and everyone is singing about jingling bells, and Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen,  Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blizten, and Rudolph of course.  Another reoccurring song or tradition that has become a part of our culture in various ways is the 12 Days of Christmas.  We see it on TV with 12 Days of Giveaways, our staff did 12 Days of Fitness via Instagram, and all over Facebook there have been 12 days of something or another where companies thank you for supporting them by offering contests throughout the 12 days. 

This got me thinking about how we jump on that wagon, easy enough… we are going to offer the 12 Days of Wellness.  So I set out to ask around the office, when do the 12 Days of Christmas occur?  Most people, including myself thought “around the 13th or 14th?”, 12 days out from Christmas.   Doh, I’ll just google it. Here I thought I’d engage people, because that’s what we are good at, engaging your residents in your senior living communities or your corporate wellness members and strike up a conversation.   I could have gotten the answer right away if I just Googled it. 

If you haven’t Googled it yourself, in general you would find that the 12 Days of Christmas actually begins on Christmas and carries on for 12 days ending on January 5.  If you need a more detailed explanation, I recommend you Google it for yourself as it does vary between beliefs.

Back to me jumping on the band wagon to celebrate 12 days…  Join us via our Facebook page or Twitter for the 12 Days of Wellness starting tomorrow.  As we head into the New Year and establish those dreadful resolutions, take into account more than just the typical exercise more, lose 10 pounds, eat better.  There are more aspects to your overall wellness that will help you lead a healthier life.  Subscribe to our blog, we have some new authors from our staff in 2014 along with some great programs to share with you in our NIFS Best Practices series where we will feature some of our most successful programs in both Corporate Fitness settings and Active Aging communities.

Enjoy the holiday season and our 12 Days of Wellness!

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Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness active aging nifs fitness management senior living community 12 Days of Christmas 12 Days of Wellness

NIFS: Staying Healthy through the Holidays

mom and child handwashing resized 600With parties in full swing and family gatherings next week, the last thing you want to be is SICK!  Tis’ the season for sneezing and wheezing.  When you aren’t feeling 100% and you cough or sneeze, those germs float into the air and spread to the next person.  Take these steps to help prevent the sharing of germs so you can share gifts instead!

  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, if you can’t get a tissue in time cough into your elbow instead of your hands!

  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes where germs invade your system! 

  • Wash your hands often; your best option is with warm water and soap.  The most effective way to prevent the spread of germs is by washing your hands to kill those germs.

Hand washing 101... be smart about washing your hands.  Here are a few tips for when it’s important to be sure you are thoroughly scrubbing those hands between your fingers, backs of hands and your wrists!

Wash Hands Before:

Eating and preparing meals

When caring for an injured or sick person

Inserting or removing contact lenses

Wash Hands After:

Preparing food, especially raw meat

Changing diapers or using the bathroom

Taking care of animals

Handling garbage and cleaners

Use of Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizer:

Choose those that contain 60% alcohol

Apply enough to cover hands completely

Rub hands together until dry

Have your family adopt these simple hand washing habits to help limit the transfer of bacteria and viruses to lessen your chances of being sick this holiday season!  

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Topics: nifs fitness management employee health and wellness health hand washing

NIFS Fitness Management: Free Workout Friday - Holiday Calorie Burn

free workout fridayIf you are a super shopper and out and about shopping all day getting the best Christmas gifts, you are burning some calories as you walk store to store carrying all those shopping bags.  If you are an online shopper, you’re missing out.  Set up a standing ordering station with your computer so you are at least up on your feet!!!  If you prefer to stay at home whether it’s to online shop or simply stay in due to weather here are a few exercises that could help you get that workout in without leaving the comfort of your home! 

Don’t forget, you don’t want to work a cold muscle.  You can warm up simply by marching in place for a few minutes to get your blood pumping and then find some space to complete the following:

25 Jumping Jacks – piece of cake you’ve done these since you were 5.  Don’t cheat yourself and make sure you fully extend your arms over head.

15 Squats – your body weight helps provide resistance.  Be sure to sit your hips back and keep your chest up as you lower into the squat.  As you stand up, drive through your feet and
make sure your knees never go past your toes.

Drop and give me 10 (20 if you are advanced) – strive for 10 pushups; if you need to do a modified push up on your knees get to it! Keep your body in a straight line and lower your upper body toward the floor making sure the hips stay down maintaining that line. Push through your hands, chest and shouldersto push yourself up.

20 Alternating Lunges (10 on each side – cake!) – with hands on hips, step forward with your right foot and lower your body straight down bending both knees keeping your chest and head up making sure to not lean over that front leg.  Keeping your right knee in line with the ankle, push through your foot standing back up in the starting position.  Repeat by stepping forward with your left foot.  If alternating is difficult, do 10 lunges on the right and then switch to the left.

PLANK! – hold the plank position on your forearms or up on your hands like a push up for 30 seconds (strive for more if you can).  Engage your core and maintain that straight line.  Don’t forget to breathe; you never want to hold your breath when performing exercises. 

Repeat these five exercises 3-4 times and then grab that wrapping paper and get busy, I suggest standing at your kitchen table to burn a few extra calories! 

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NIFS Fitness Management's Thanksgiving Traditions

thanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving!!  Some of you have already been active by participating in a Turkey Trot or Drumstick Dash, others may be enjoying some morning coffee while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or on the road traveling to see family, and those extra special individuals are busy cooking today’s feast.  We all celebrate differently and have family traditions and things are thankful for.  We are thankful for our amazing staff and the hard work they put in year round.  We asked them to share what they are thankful for, what their favorite Thanksgiving dishes are, and about their family traditions.

Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday for the entire family to get together. When I married my husband at first we had to split Thanksgiving between the two families. After the first two years of doing this, my husband and I asked to hold the entire day’s events at our place and invite all family from both sides. We also invited family friends. This was turned into a wonderful tradition that allowed everyone to get together and not run from one place to another throughout the day. This leads to my thing I am most thankful for, which is my WHOLE family and that we do not have a division of "my family" or "your family."  -Cathy Hampe

We have some competitive people in the family, and they do a lot of “trash talking”.  We usually have some sort of dodge ball, kickball, or bball game….which is hilarious in itself because not all of us are athletic! I have one aunt that brings board games every year and no one ever wants to play, so that’s usually another funny episode because she’s trying to talk anyone and everyone into playing with her.  -Lisa Larkin

This probably started when we were teenagers, but my brothers and I would set a plastic trash can a certain distance from the throwing line. Then we would throw a football at the trash can to try to hit it. If we hit it, the trash can was moved farther away. If you missed, you were out. Very simple, but always a good time with my bro’s.   -Michael Boyle

My favorite part is introducing healthy options to my boyfriend’s family.  This is the 3rd year I will be cooking with his mom, it’s really fun to watch them devour the healthier options that they would have never imagined liking. I’m also thankful for the loving family I have supporting me, near and far.  –Sarah Johnson

My dad’s entire family started the family reunion type Thanksgiving back in the 1980’s with my grandfather having seven siblings. We used to rent out an old farmhouse and since have moved to various churches. The entire meal is a pot luck and having family coming from all over the world there is an amazing selection of food... Greek breads, German desserts, Asian salads, the best part of this meal is the homemade ice cream!  -Amy Briggs

My favorite part of the holiday is just getting to spend the day with my family.  It is so nice to be able to relax, enjoy each other’s company and be thankful for one other.  I am most thankful for my children, family, friends and health!  -Shawna Kendrick

I am thankful that a have the most amazing family, a wonderful job, my house, and my two awesome dogs!  After dinner, our entire family crowds into the living room to watch the Dallas Cowboys play football.  -Diana Price

My oldest son served in Iraq and missed Thanksgiving with our family for 4 years in a row.  Thanksgiving is so important to us because we feel so thankful that he is home and is able to spend Thanksgiving with us again! He has been home for the last 5 Thanksgivings, but I never forget the importance of being blessed when I look across the table and see him among us!  -Ruth Reyna

I enjoy waking up Thanksgiving morning to do a local 5k Turkey Trot with my family- no better way to start the day than with some exercise!  My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is pie, pie, and more pie. Did I mention pie?  -Stephanie Parsons

This isn't really a tradition, and it only happened last year. But my wife and I were trimming our turkey in one of those disposable tin foil turkey pans. Our dog was right under foot waiting for something to drop. After about 5 minutes we look down to see our dog's head soaking wet. Apparently the pan sprung a leak and the turkey grease was running off the counter right into our dog's mouth in what I can only imagine was pure bliss. Surprisingly not a drop touched the floor and I'm sure this goes down as one of the greatest days of our dog's life. So from now on, we'll probably give our dog some turkey grease with her food. (the turkey was good too!)  -Doug Trefun

My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the dressing.  I only eat dressing once or twice a year and I ask my mom to make it.  She uses my grandmother’s recipe that I loved so much as a child.  -Matt Reeves

Our family tradition is getting in circle all holding hands telling what we are thankful for, toasting to them and then we do a gobble off. Whomever has the best turkey gobble gets to take the traveling turkey home for the year. For some reason the turkey has never made it to my home.  -Sheila Heavin

What is your favorite non-food related way you spend this holiday with your family? Every year we do a “Turkey Bowl”. My dad’s family gets together at the local college and plays flag football on the field. Last year we had over 50 people play from ages 4-65. We do a traditional tailgate in the parking lot after the game. It is a great way for us to get together before we go our separate ways to other relatives houses for thanksgiving dinner. It’s also a great way to be active before all the holiday treats.  -Mistie Hayhow

I’m thankful for our healthy girls and to not be pregnant and nauseous this Thanksgiving.  –Emily Davenport

My personal fav is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. But my grandmas pumpkin pie always has a strong family presence.  -Bethany Garrity

My family always participates in the Galloping Gobbler, which is a 4 mile race back in my hometown. My entire family dreads it but we all do it because it is something that my mother loves to do! She gets so excited every year, that she wakes us all up around 6 am to the Rocky Theme Song blaring!! It’s an interesting way to start Thanksgiving! -Margaret Allgeier

I am thankful for family.  -Christy Monday

My immediate family gets up at the crack of dawn and drives to Ohio where my great aunt and extended family gather for Thanksgiving lunch.  Afterwards, we take a walk around the farm to get in some activity after the big meal.  The rest of the visit is spent catching up with family, watching the Macy’s Day Parade and football.   -Melissa Cusick


What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management employee health and wellness thanksgiving traditions

Free Workout Friday - Maintain Not Gain

Free Workout FridayOur staff is kicking off our annual Maintain Not Gain program at our client sites.  This program is structured to help individuals maintain their weight through those months filled with tasty food and delicious treats that surround the holidays.  As you gear up for the holiday parties and events stay on track by following our Free Workout Friday blog postings to keep your workouts on track.  We aren’t saying you can’t enjoy the food, we just suggest proper portion sizes and that you don’t skip out on your workouts! 

If you aren’t a member at one of our client sites and would like help staying on track, “like” NIFS Fitness Management on Facebook and join our Facebook edition of Maintain Not Gain.  Watch for the links to submit your initial weight November 16 – 22.  Watch your newsfeed for tips to stay on track and submit your final weight in January.  If you maintain and not gain through the holidays you will be eligible for a prize drawing! 

Now let’s get started with a great, easy workout to keep you on track! 

WARM UP with a 5 minute walk or anything to get your muscles warm!

10 squatsMNG logo

15 pushups

20 alternating lunges

25 bicep curls

30 jumping jacks

35 bicycles

STRETCH, you never want to stretch a cold muscle, so always do so once the muscles are warm!

Beginner: Repeat 3-5 times, with short or minimal breaks.

Intermediate-Advanced: Complete as many times as possible in 25 minutes. 

Topics: employee health exercise nifs fitness management maintain not gain

NIFS Member Speaks: Ashley Shirley, Fit After Kids

NIFS members speak

Ashley Shirley, one of our corporate fitness members out of Ohio, shares her story and the benefits of utilizing the NIFS Fitness Management staff at her onsite corporate wellness center.  After having two kids she relies on the NIFS staff for accountability and to keep her going!  

"Eating healthy and being fit was a way of life for me before having 2 kids. It was just something I wanted to do for myself. When I got pregnant with my first child I gained 75 lbs, so I went from 155 to 230 in a 9 month period. It was extremely hard on my body. After my second child I was pretty much right back to where I was after my first one. I was miserable because I knew that it wasn’t the way my body was made to be. It’s hard to work out when you have two little ones at home, so having the wellness center here at work is an extreme blessing for me. I take advantage of it every day on my lunch hour. I love the fact that we have an option to take classes if we choose to and I also take advantage of Monday boot camp and will be starting Wednesday TRX classes. Another reason I keep coming back is because I have accountability through Adrienne. She is awesome! She gives us the workout of our lives every time we walk in the wellness center. Member's Speak - AShirleyEven if I’m not taking a class with her she is always there for encouragement and to help me become the best I can be by educating me. She pushes me personally to be better than I knew I could be, and she stretches me way past my comfort zone! For her position, that’s a compliment! There isn’t a class I take that I don’t wake up the next day feeling it. She is all around a sweet person and really makes it a comfortable atmosphere to workout in. Since my last child was born last October I have lost close to 60 lbs! She has been there every step of the way cheering me on! I’m not the only one who feels this way either, we sure do love her!"

*Weight loss claims or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health nifs fitness management employee health and fitness NIFS member speak testimonials