Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

NIFS | Corporate Fitness ClassNIFS isn't the only agency that provides fitness management expertise to businesses. There are several like us because the market demands it. While many organizations have adopted a DIY attitude about managing their own fitness programs, an additional (and substantial) set of businesses has recognized the value in outsourcing fitness center management for their corporate fitness center or in their senior living community.

We’ve been at this for almost 25 years and I’ve heard a variety of objections to outsourcing fitness staff. I’ve got my own list of objections to those objections...so here we go:

Objection 1: Outsourcing fitness center management is too expensive.

This objection really comes down to a comparison of direct versus indirect employee costs. Working with a partner may be more expensive when you compare wages and benefits you pay your employee with the billing you would get from a partner. The fitness management organization has overhead and a margin they need to earn.

When you look at the cost to hire, train, and supervise an employee, your cost comparison starts to even out. Then throw in the consideration of ongoing training and supervision, potential turnover, and statutory costs related to employees, you may find that partnering with a staffing agency like NIFS provides significant value.

Objection 2: I have no control over the staff person.

I don’t know who you’ve worked with historically, but any organization in this business that doesn’t put service first and foremost is making a gigantic mistake. When you’re working with the right outsourcing partner, that organization should be keenly interested in keeping you, the client, happy. To that end, they should be very interested in your feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the staff they’re providing at your location.

Objection 3: An outsourced staff person won’t have buy-in from our constituents.

For starters, see objection #2. Keep in mind that the only way a staffing agency stays in business is if they have learned to be nimble and highly adaptive to a variety of environments. You can check on a potential outsourcing partner’s flexibility by talking to a variety of references.

When we go to work in senior living settings, we often pair up staffing services with wellness consulting (at no additional cost) so that we can better support the organization and further understand the culture with that client. This understanding is communicated to our staff on the ground so that we’re all operating from the same educated starting point.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Objection 4: Fitness isn’t rocket science; we’ve got this.

Okay. You’re right. Fitness isn’t rocket science, and you may very well “have it.” There are a host of highly capable, service-minded, passionate health and fitness professionals out there who are ready to work directly for you. But who has their back?

Who provides them with fresh ideas, resources, direction, and support? Your human resources director? Your activities director? Not likely—unless you’ve somehow hit a gold mine of fitness-educated staff at your business, the fitness manager you employ is probably the only one of his or her kind in your four walls. Outsourcing partners (the best ones, anyway) bring a team of resources, professionals, expertise, and support to the staff member they provide your organization.

Maybe you have other objections I can address. If so, leave them in the comments below. On the other hand, if I’ve just addressed your objections and you’re ready to start looking at outsourcing partners, drop me a line, or take a closer look at us through the rest of our blog. If your business has to move through an RFP process, you might want to read what I wrote on my top 10 RFP questions for corporate fitness management.

CORPORATE FITNESS STAFFING ›SENIOR LIVING FITNESS STAFFING ›

 

Topics: worksite wellness nifs fitness management NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment employee health and fitness corporate wellness staffing wellness consulting outsourcing fitness managment

Why Corporate Fitness Center Design Matters

Corporate_Fitness_Center-1When a business makes the commitment to put in a corporate fitness center, they are making a statement (hopefully one of many) about how important their employees’ health is. It’s a substantial investment, and the project is not to be taken lightly. 

From an outside perspective, you might think there’s not much to designing this kind of space. Put up the walls, install the equipment, and you’re ready to go, right? I suppose you can charge ahead with that philosophy, but you may be leaving quite a bit to chance in terms of building a space that is safe, efficient, and effective for your employees. 

From conception to completion, we’ve had the privilege of being involved in dozens of fitness center design projects over the last several years. Below are three reasons why we think thoughtful design in corporate fitness is key to a successful fitness center program.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Selecting the best equipment influences the success of your space.

When deciding which exercise equipment you want for your space, be sure to do your homework. Every sales rep will offer to lay out your space with their equipment for free. And every rep will tell you that their equipment is the best. Carefully lay out the features that are most important to you (don’t forget about warranty), and make a pro/con list for the equipment you’re considering to determine what will work best in your space and for your employees.

Hiring the right staff will help maximize use of the fitness center.

Only about 20% of American adults are meeting the physical activity guidelines as offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (And that’s probably a falsely high estimate because the data is gathered through self-report mechanisms.) So you can expect that less than 20% of your workforce would get enough exercise even if you didn’t put in an onsite fitness center. Simply offering a corporate fitness program isn’t enough to get employees in the inactive 80% camp to start moving. 

Corporate fitness is not an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. Having the right staff on board can make a big difference on utilization of spaces and programs through the fitness center. But you have to build the space from a user’s perspective in order to provide opportunities to maximize the programming that invites new participants. 

Your fitness management staff should be able to keep track of key metrics as well as provide a variety of programs (including group fitness classes) and services designed to draw in more users on a regular basis. 

Establishing the best possible layout will make a difference for users.

Thoughtful design will take into account the quantity and types of equipment needed in the space, as well as intended uses for the environment. For example, if you have an employee audience with an insatiable appetite for group fitness classes, don’t skimp on your studio space. Make it large enough to accommodate anticipated volume, and equip it with the right types of storage to house the group class toys. Carefully research what’s needed for the group fitness stereo, and pay close attention to work areas adjacent to the studio space to make sure that soundproofing is available where needed. 

Adequate locker room and shower space is a must, and easy access to drinking water is essential. Flooring surfaces need to be carefully considered along with where to place mirrors, how to orient equipment near and around windows, and what staff office/desk spaces will accommodate. 

And you should rely 100% on your architectural team to provide all of those elements for the space initially. But it’s not reasonable to expect that team to understand, from an operator’s perspective, how your fitness staff and employees will work and exercise in the space. Unless your architect had a previous career managing a corporate fitness center, my experience is that the architect might miss some key elements in the design that would ultimately inhibit the end-user experience.

If this brief outline of key design and program elements for your fitness center has you thinking you might be in over your head, check out our fitness center design sampling, or contact me to talk through the questions brought on from reading this post.

Topics: corporate fitness centers participation corporate wellness staffing fitness center design equipment

How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Resident Wellness Program

In this blog, I want to run through a handful of questions that often come up when I have an initial call with a possible client who is interested in doing wellness better at their senior living community. But before I get too far into that information, I thought I should start by offering my definition of wellness so that we’re all on the same page for that terminology. 

When I say wellness, I’m talking about multidimensional, active programming that can span the continuum and that fosters maximal participation throughout the community. It is not just fitness, or activities, or dining, or chaplain-based services, and it certainly isn’t clinic-based or born from a healthcare model. Wellness incorporates a very broad range of program and event types, and it’s built to provide purpose for the participant.

The other element to defining wellness that might be confusing is the distinction I make between wellness and activities. It is my opinion that building a true resident wellness program requires more than simply renaming your traditional activities program. You’ll need to consider existing personnel in your community and whether/how they can collaborate for improved offerings under a different strategy. You will also need to formulate a plan around changing how programs are developed, executed, and evaluated. 

So with that context established, let’s get on to the questions and answers that you can use to benchmark where you are now with resident wellness and how to do wellness better. 

Do you have dedicated staff who plan and execute a variety of activities for residents in the community?

In many communities, it’s common to hear that there is a resident wellness program, when in reality there’s an activities program, a fitness program, chaplain services, etc., all functioning in their own silos with limited collaboration. 

For your wellness program to truly be robust, you need to have a leader at the helm of program/event development. There are a lot of ways to do this; sometimes it’s the activity director who assumes this role; and in other cases, this position is given to the fitness coordinator or social worker. You want to make sure you’re tapping the right person who can effectively lead a team, who has strong capacity for strategic thinking and collaboration, and who has a better-than-high-school understanding of human health. 

Do you have dedicated fitness personnel who manage your exercise programming?

Even in 2015, the fitness “room” (if you will) still comes in all shapes and sizes. It is consistent to see some space dedicated to exercise equipment within most communities, and typically group exercise classes are held in other areas of the building. Pools are still very hit-or-miss in established senior living communities. 

Best-in-class services for your residents demand a dedicated fitness professional (or team, depending on the size of your community and the desired scope of services) who can manage the exercise program for your community. That individual should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field with strong expertise in prescribing exercise for seniors. He or she should also be quite skilled at teaching a variety of basic group exercise classes. And that fitness manager absolutely needs an outgoing, approachable personality to go along with the technical expertise.

In most cases, we see a hodgepodge of group fitness instructors and personal trainers floating in and out of the community to support exercise activities for residents. While this approach will allow you to have some staff support in your exercise room as well as maintain your class schedule, you are failing to build a strong service that includes 1:1 attention for the residents as well as community-wide programming and data that can inform how the exercise program should evolve. 

activeaagingWhat percentage of your community events/program are active (up, moving, interacting with others, learning, growing, doing) as compared to passive (sit-and-listen)?

Just because the residents are retired from their careers does not mean that they are retired from life. Providing opportunities for participants to learn new things, meet new people, discuss new concepts, and see new places builds a purpose-oriented lifestyle in your community. If more than 50% of your activities calendar includes routine programs like cards and sit-and-listen offerings, it’s time to take a fresh look at how you can build more person-centered offerings on a regular basis.

What percentage of your residents participate in the activities offered at your community?

In most cases, activities for senior living fall into the Pareto principle, where 20% of the residents are engaging in 80% of the activities. Often, we see this phenomenon in place because your activities and events planners have slipped into an order-taker role. Their ears are tuned to the vocal minority and they fill the calendar with ideas offered by the residents who are already participating. To get out of this order-taking mode and to start moving toward programming that attracts more than the same 20% who have been participating for years, you’ll have to try something different with your team and your expectations. This is where a strategic, multidisciplinary plan steps in.

How is programming developed and executed at your community?

When I talked about personnel in one of the earlier questions, I mentioned the individuals working in silos so that events happen independent of each other throughout the community. A more strategic approach to programming is warranted if communities are committed to engaging more residents in lifestyle on their campuses and appearing more attractive to hesitant consumers. This type of practice requires planning activities well in advance with input from a team of experts. It requires thinking that moves away from the one-and-done offerings and toward layered, multidimensional, inviting programs that have the members talking, connecting, participating, and learning. 

It also requires a thoughtful approach to gathering data for the programs. Each offering should be created with an intended purpose that is measurable. Program plans should be built with that goal in mind, and tactics designed to help achieve that goal should be identified. When the program is complete, the team should evaluate whether and how they achieved their goal, as well as identify what they learned in the process that can be used for more effective programming in the future.  

So, now that you’ve finished all the questions and answers, where does your community stand? If you’re ready to do wellness better, we have some tools that might be helpful. See the list below for those additional resources:

NIFS Best Practice Programs for Senior Living

NIFS Build Vitality Webinar Series

NIFS Slideshare: 3 Keys to Improving Resident Engagement in Wellness

Not sure how to start evaluating your resident wellness program?  Contact us below.

Contact Us >

 

Topics: senior wellness programs corporate wellness staffing program planning nifs fitness center management

High-Touch Versus High-Tech in Corporate Wellness

fit techThere’s been a lot in the media lately about wearable technology having a strong presence in corporate wellness. Employee wellness programs have provided a whole new market for some wearable manufacturers, and one research firm indicates that upwards of 13 million wearables could become part of employee wellness initiatives in the next five years.

The Challenges with  High Tech Wellness

This specific high-tech phenomenon is fairly new and relatively unresearched in terms of long-term effectiveness at helping adults make sustainable health behavior change. But technology in corporate wellness has been around for years and it has evolved to keep up with perceived wants and needs. Years (and I mean years) ago, we used to take health risk assessments (HRA) on paper. Then those moved to this thing called the internet. Eventually, we got “smart” feedback on those HRAs and our fingerstick data was integrated with our self-report HRA responses to create a profile.

Now we have web capacity to integrate with pedometers and other higher-tech wearables like Up® by Jawbone® and various products by Fitbit. The data syncs up to a company site where we can compete with our peers, and it links with our own tracking tools on our phones. We have access to a lot of information about our movement. Still, I wonder if data is really king when it comes to health behavior change. Are high-tech solutions enough to help someone move their own needle?

You probably have anecdotes where someone’s health was profoundly changed with the help of a wearable, an app, or some combination. You, like me, may also know stories where a wearable began an obsession with data and quickly sucked all the fun out of measuring the movement. So effectiveness may very well be in the arm of the wearer (so to speak). Still, there are definite limits to today’s tech solutions. Maybe someone will solve them down the line, but right now, as I see it, there are barriers on tech that limit potential impact on improving health. There’s a great outline of these limits in this Forbes article.

There are other issues with a high-tech-only solution that have come to light recently, as well. For example, while more and more boomers (who are still in your workforce) are adopting technology solutions in various areas of their lives, they still lag behind Gen X and Millennials in their rate of adoption. This article makes the case that boomers may be the demographic most likely to benefit from, and most willing to pay for health-related technology, but the market isn’t designing for them.

And while the technology certainly supports what seems to be the unquenchable thirst for data, there is still the tricky math involved in determining whether your employee wellness device translates to actual company savings on health care.

How High Touch Wellness Helps

When you look at the challenges identified in the Forbes article, many (dare I say all) of them can be worked through or even remedied by a human being with a brain and some capacity for nuance. And here’s where high-touch in corporate wellness steps up.

The right people powering your corporate wellness program should be

  • Both capable of and passionate about helping your employees establish healthy goals and effective plans to achieve those goals.
  • Compassionate motivators who have the right skills to nudge participants toward finding their own intrinsic motivation.
  • Nuanced enough to know when to step in to provide a course correction when your employees stop engaging or when their efforts aren’t achieving the carefully crafted goals.
  • Savvy at helping participants understand their data in a way that’s meaningful and impactful.

Using people in a high-touch capacity to bolster and back up your high-tech tools can be an effective way to help your employees achieve better health. 

CORP Initiatives

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health technology corporate wellness staffing counting steps

Two Key Things Your Wellness Program May Be Missing

staff working with residentAt NIFS, we work in both corporate and senior living settings supporting client wellness strategies. After having done that work in diverse environments for various audiences over the last 25 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what really works when you’re trying to promote living well.

Below are two key elements your wellness program may be missing.

1: The People

We’ve hired hundreds of qualified wellness professionals to work with our many clients over the last two decades. And we’ve made some hiring mistakes. But we’ve learned from those situations and cultivated a more comprehensive interview and an effective onboarding process.

[Related Content: Tips for Hiring Your Own Fitness Professional]

Hire well and you’ll be well on your way to cultivating significant and meaningful opportunities for well-living for your employees or residents. If you don’t hire well for wellness, your strategy, programs, or initiatives are destined for mediocrity at best.

If you don’t know what skills and abilities you need for your wellness strategy, consider outsourcing your staffing to a partner. Let them be your expert so that you can spend your time and energy running your business.

2: The Program

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: wellness is not rocket science. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require strategic thinking and thoughtful planning. Wellness services should be part of a larger vision that is focused on creating engaging opportunities for well-living.

There is no shortage of valuable resources available for program ideas online. Join a few LinkedIn groups and you’ll soon begin to see engaging ideas and thoughtful discussion that can help take your programming to the next level. Or subscribe to our blog for digestable on-the-ground tips for wellness practitioners as well as high level strategy solutions for wellness leaders.

And let’s talk a little bit about data. How are you gathering it? What are you doing with the data you have? Burying your head in the sand on data is not an answer. I’ve written before on how to gather data that you can actually use in your wellness program. You really can’t afford to continue the work without making legitimate attempts to measure what you’re managing. Otherwise, how will you ever know if your efforts are making the desired impact?

Looking for Best Practice Ideas?

Since we’re all about sharing the love and getting best practices out there for you to run with, I am very excited to announce our upcoming Best Practice Series that will launch in February 2014. There are two tracks:

Why not jumpstart your creativity with a little something that's worked in a similar environment for a similar audience.  (Who doesn't want their job to be a little easier?!)  

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program senior wellness programs senior fitness management corporate fitness managment corporate wellness staffing

My Story... NIFS Members Speak - Lasalle Pinnock

My storyLasalle Pinnock joined the corporate wellness center in July when his department moved. Almost immediately he scheduled an exercise prescription with the NIFS Fitness Management staff and has been following that exercise program ever since. He started with a few days of strength training and cardiovascular exercise. After about a month he came to the staff looking to add one more day of activity to his routine. Each week he updates us on his progress not only with weight lost but how he is improving in stamina and strength. Because of his dedication to exercise he has also been motivated to make healthier choices when it comes to his diet and started sharing the things he’s learned with his wife.

LaSalle’s success has come from his commitment to making healthier choices and his consistency with exercise read his journey toward a healthier lifestyle below:

I started working in the Wellness Center when my department moved from the Galleria location because I felt I had no excuse. The gym is right here at work, what more can I ask for? This was the best time and opportunity for me to really focus and make changes in my life. My beautiful wife and kids are who keep me motivated to work out and eat healthily. Having two young daughters, I told myself I want to be alive to see both of them go to college and get married. I knew I had to make changes and they are what keep me going. 

Since starting in the gym and using Penny’s workout routines I have lost a little over 10 pounds in just under month. I have also changed my eating and drinking habits greatly. I was a huge Coca-Cola® drinker and used to drink Cokes daily. I now only drink water throughout the day. I will have the occasional Coke® or Coke Zero® on the weekend. I have cut out Lasalle Pinnockfast food, fried, and greasy foods. If I’m unable to eat a healthy meal I make sure I eat a smaller portion. Instead of getting sodas or chips from the vending machine I grab trail mix or eat some type of fruit. I have noticed since working out I have so much more stamina, energy, and I am less tired during the day. I can really feel and see the difference in my mood and body. Mentally I feel more focused and less stressed, I just feel great. Right now my goal is to stay focused and to keep moving forward. I want to reach my target weight and inspire others.

My advice for others is this, It’s hard and it’s going to take some time but don’t let that stop you because it’s worth it. One of the best quotes I’ve read and that keeps me going is, “Some quit due to slow progress. Never grasping the fact that…slow progress is progress”. 

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

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health and wellness corporate wellness staffing nifs fitness managment NIFS members speak