Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Free Workout Friday: Core Strength

Free Workout FridayDon’t forget about the core muscles! The core helps to protect organs and keeps the torso strong enough to connect the upper body with the lower body. A strong core helps with balance and stability in everyday activities. Core strength also helps with all activities and sports. It’s very important for athletes to have strong core muscles. Strengthening the core muscles can help to relieve lower back pain/problems and increase good posture.  Just like every other muscle group, our bodies need a good core workout on a regular basis. It doesn’t take long; you can get a full core workout in 15-20 minutes or less. I work at a corporate fitness center and teach multiple core classes a week. Try my workout below and let me know what you think! Form is very important, so view the video clip prior to starting for helpful tips.

  • On back, hands underneath you supporting the lower back, legs straight in the air, feet together, lower legs pushing the lower back into the mat. Use the stomach muscles to lift the legs back up. Perform the exercise slow and controlled. 15 leg raises, then hold the legs just off the floor and hold for 15 seconds. Next, 6 little circles one direction keeping feet together. 6 circles the other direction, then finish with a 15 second hold again.
  • Flip over to a center plank for 1 minute  – on elbows & toes, shoulders above elbows, weight pushed back towards feet, keep hips low, body in a straight line, abs pulled in tight without holding breath.
    • Modification can be done on knees instead of toes.
    • Turn to a side plank for 1 minute – shoulders above each other, bottom hip up off the mat, feet on top of each other, abs in tight without holding breath.
      • Modification can be done with bottom knee on the mat, still keeping bottom hip up high.
      • Flip over to the other side for 1 minute – form is important so see details above or video clip!
      • Back to a center plank (see video below) – lift one leg for 10 seconds, switch legs.
      • Lift one leg out to the side (see video below) for 10 seconds, switch legs.
      • Hold a perfect center plank for 30 seconds.
      • Back to a side plank, but this time lift the top leg up for 15 seconds, then one leg lift to one truck rotation (see video below) for 45 seconds.
      • Switch sides and repeat.
      • Back to a center plank hold for 30 seconds.
      • Relax on mat (on your stomach) for a few lower body exercises.
      • One arm up, other down by side on the mat, use the lower back to lift the chest up & down off the mat. 15 reps. Switch arms and repeat 15 reps.
        • Keep neck and shoulders relaxed, exhale when you lift, slow & controlled, always pause at the top to squeeze the lower back muscles. See video for a form check!
        • Both arms and legs up & down. 10 reps, then hold for 10 seconds.
        • Opposite arm & leg, lift and pause, then switch to the other arm & leg. 30 seconds.
        • One arm out to side, other arm down by side on the mat, lift and rotate towards the arm that is straight out. See video. 10 reps then switch arms & sides and repeat 10 reps.
        • Back up to a center plank hold for 30 seconds.
        • Flip over to your back for bicycles (see video for form and modification) for 30 seconds.
        • Not tired yet? Repeat the workout.

Not ready for this long of a core workout yet? It’s ok, start with a couple exercises and work your way up to completing it all.  If you like the FREE WORKOUT FRIDAY, subscribe to our blog!

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Topics: exercise nifs fitness management employee wellness Free Workout Friday fitness

Free Workout Friday: Upper and Lower Body Combo Exercises

Free Workout FridayOnce you have learned basic strength moves separately and have mastered the form for each, consider trying a workout where you combine both a lower and upper body strength exercise into one. Combo exercises have many benefits, such as burning more calories and increasing your physical and mental coordination. They also allow you to pack more into a certain amount of time, making your workout thorough and efficient. On busy days, this can be a good way to squeeze your normal 40 minute workout into 20!

There are many ways you can combine separate, basic strength moves into a combo exercise: upper body paired with lower body, lower body plus core, two arm exercises combined, etc. Even combinations of more than two are possible, for example a squat with a bicep curl into a shoulder press. Get creative, as long as you are using proper form for all exercises. Here are five upper body/lower body combos to try today:

1. Squat w/ tree-hugger - placing a band behind your back (or ancor if possible), sit back into a squat while bringing your extended arms out in front of you as if you were hugging a tree.

2. Deadlift w/ upright row - maintain a straight back while performing the deadlift, as you return to standing position, perform an upright row leading with your elbows.

3. Step-up w/ bicep curl - stepping up onto a box or bench while performing a bicep curl, maintain proper form keeping knee in line with the ankle.

4. Backwards lunge w/ front raise - as you step back into a lunge simultaneously perform a front shoulder raise with manageable weight, strive to maintain proper form.

5. Shoulder press w/ leg extension - can be performed sitting or standing, if standing you will balance on one leg lifting the opposite knee. You will perform a shoulder press while simultaneously extending the lifted leg at the knee and lowering.

Take a 10 minute break today and work through these exercises for worksite wellness.  Be sure to complete exercises on both sides where applicable.

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Topics: employee health healthy workforce exercise corporate fitness employee wellness Free Workout Friday fitness corporate fitness centers Fitness Center exercies at your desk

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout Fridays

Did you know the number one killer of women is heart disease?

Today is National Wear Red Day, encouraging you to show support against heart disease. Too many women are unaware of the deadly disease and how it can be prevented. So, grab a friend, put on your favorite red shirt and hit the treadmill for a good cardiovascular workout.

Cardiovascular exercise (example – treadmill workout) is very important for several reasons, including the prevention of heart disease. Not only will the treadmill help you to lose weight, but it can be a great heart pumping workout. The stronger the heart, the less work it has to do to pump blood throughout your body. Cardiovascular exercise will also help to reduce stress levels and increase confidence. Who doesn’t love leaving the house feeling confident?? Give this treadmill workout a try!

  • 2.6 mph for 3 minutes (warm up)
  • 3.0 mph / 3% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.4 mph / 4% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.6 mph / 5% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 4.0 mph / 8% incline for 8 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 3.0 mph / 1% incline for 3 minutes (cool down)

This workout is designed to push walkers by adding some incline work to burn more calories and strengthen the lower body. If you feel you are ready to take it up a notch increase the speed so you are jogging rather than walking.

If you feel you are not ready for this workout, take it down a notch and work your way up to 4.0 mph / 8% incline over time. Find a challenging speed you can maintain for at least 10 minutes and increase the incline 1% every two minutes until you can complete the workout above.

What is your favorite treadmill workout?

Topics: exercise at work exercise walking Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness exercise at home NIFS employee wellness Free Workout Friday

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridayIt’s been a long week, it is cold outside and you don’t feel like doing much of anything, right?  Join the club.  You don’t have to stress about your workout. At the end of the week maybe you just need a good stretch!

Stretching Tips:

  • Improved flexibility occurs when the muscles are warm, never stretch a cold muscle.  March in place and step side to side to get your blood pumping to warm the muscles.
  • Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.  Only stretch until you feel mild tension, you don’t want to over stretch.
  • Breathe while stretching.  Taking deep breaths will assist in relaxation.
  • You should stretch 2-3 times per week.

group stretchingComplete the following stretches to de-stress and relax your muscles.  Worksite wellness can be easy by simply taking a moment to stretch at your desk!

Chin to Chest: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop chin to chest.  Hold, and return to starting position.

Ear to Shoulder: Seated or standing, look straight ahead and slowly drop your head to one side toward the shoulder.  Hold and slowly move to the other side.

Upper Back and Rotator Cuff: Raise arms out in front of the body at shoulder height, place hands together.  With your palms out, push away from your body until you feel the stretch across your shoulder blades.

Tricep and Shoulder:  Stand with arms overhead.  Bend one arm at the elbow reaching behind your head toward the middle of your back.  With the opposite hand, gently pull the elbow to the point of tension.  Switch arms.

Inner Thigh:  Sit on the floor with soles of feet together.  Sitting straight up, keep your shoulders back with chest and chin up.  Press knees towards the floor to the point of tension.

Hips and Glutes:  Lie on your back with both knees bent.  Cross one leg over the opposite thigh, grasp the back the thigh and gently pull the leg towards you.  The stretch should be felt on the outside of your hip and glute.  Switch legs.

Lying Quadricep:  Lie face down on the floor and bring your right foot up towards your glute. Grasp the foot with the right hand and gently push your foot into your hand to feel the stretch in the back of your leg.  Slowly release and repeat on the left side.

When it comes to relaxation and stretching, what do you prefer... simple stretches or an organized class such as Yoga?

Topics: exercise at work healthy workforce stress employee wellness Free Workout Friday fitness exercies at your desk stretching

Employee Health: Having Eggs for Breakfast Can Help You Lose Weight

eggsI actually witnessed my brother order a large hamburger with a fried egg on top. It was like Man v. Food! I’m pretty sure that’s not what they are talking about when I read articles about eggs helping you lose weight.

I love eggs, so it’s easy for me to eat those most mornings and even other times of the day. There are many benefits to eating eggs throughout the day. Some like to eat them late at night or throw a hardboiled egg on their salad. But eating eggs in the morning for breakfast is the way to go!

Eggs Are a Healthy and Nutritious Choice

Eggs are packed full of nutrients. They are high in protein, which helps you to feel full longer. Eating eggs for breakfast can also help you to eat a smaller lunch. Eggs are a very low-carb food, and have only roughly 85 calories per egg (depending on the size). I think it’s a myth about the yolk being unhealthy. A lot of protein and nutrients are found in the center. So, quit separating and eat the whole thing!

Boost Wellness with the Inexpensive, Versatile Egg

In addition to the health benefits, there are other great things about eating eggs. Eggs are inexpensive and can be stored in the fridge for long periods of time. They don’t take much time to cook, and can be cooked several different ways to help with variety.

Try these different options: omelet, sunny-side-up, scrambled, hardboiled, or poached. I like to make breakfast wraps with scrambled eggs, hot sauce, and a little bit of cheese. I also like to eat egg sandwiches using English muffins, or cut up some fresh vegetables for omelets.

There are lots of good ways to eat eggs, so get creative and have fun with it! Your body will reap the benefits. You can also talk with your corporate fitness center staff about other healthy options for breakfast.

Topics: employee health overweight employees nutrition weight loss weight management employee wellness healthy habits

Corporate Wellness Works Better When Leaders Walk the Talk

corporate leaderA leader is someone who can guide, direct, or show the way. Wouldn’t you hope the leaders in your life have had experience or are educated on whatever matter they are pressing?

Take a personal trainer, for instance. You probably want your personal trainer to have a degree in the field of exercise and possibly some certifications to go along with it. And once they have those degrees and certifications, you would hope they practice what they preach and actually exercise on a consistent basis.

What about your boss, manager, or supervisor? Perhaps they encourage exercise in the workplace to increase productivity and to boost energy around the office. As your supervisor, they are in turn your leader (at least in the office). As a leader, you look to them for counsel and guidance. If your supervisor eats fast food for lunch every day and takes numerous smoke breaks, and the only walking he gets is to the vending machine, chances are you’re not going to listen to him.

The point is that leadership has to start at the top. A leader is put in that position to inspire, to rally, and to command your allegiance. If a person cannot do this, he or she should not be in that position. However (and there’s always a however), you are also an individual. Even if your supervisor works out every day in the corporate fitness center, that will not help you prevent heart disease. It will not help you shed those unwanted pounds. And if your supervisor quits smoking, your lungs will not get stronger. It is up to you to make positive changes in your life.

In a sense, we are all leaders. We each have our own path and we each blaze our own trail. It is up to each and every one of us to lead by example. I leave you with a quote from Marianne Williamson (from Return to Love). I hope it speaks to you and you become the leader you strive to be.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness motivation employee wellness

NIFS Nutrition News: Fabulous Fall Recipes for Employee Health

fall harvestThis is definitely my favorite time of year: football, cooler weather, and the return of all things apples and pumpkin! Not only are they chock-full of healthy goodness, but they are also delicious!

Health Benefits of Apples

The old quote “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” could not be more correct. Apples are loaded with fiber (a typical tennis-ball-sized piece has 4 filling grams of fiber), which helps to keep you satisfied. Apples are also high in immune-boosting Vitamin C.

One recent study found that eating apples was linked to a lower incidence of death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Another surprising benefit of apples is that they may boost your endurance during a workout. The antioxidant quercetin makes oxygen more available in the lungs, and one study showed individuals who had this antioxidant prior to a workout were able to cycle longer.

Health Benefits of Pumpkins

Pumpkins have just as much to brag about as apples. Pumpkin is loaded with Vitamin A, which is essential for boosting your immune system, vision health, and bone health. You also get a significant amount of potassium from pumpkin. This helps keep your fluid and mineral balance regulated, which helps with heart function. That bright orange color from pumpkin means it is high in the antioxidant beta carotene. This means it is heart protective and can help lower your risk for heart disease. Finally, just like apples, pumpkin is loaded with fiber. Each 1 cup of pureed pumpkin has 7 grams—1/3 of your daily needs!

I like to use pureed, canned pumpkin as a fat replacer in cake mixes, brownies, and muffin mixes. Just substitute the same amount of pumpkin for the amount of oil called for in recipes and enjoy a lower-fat and nutritious treat!

Recipes for Employee Health

Try these delicious recipes for making the most of fall apples and pumpkin.

Baked Cinnamon Apples


4 large baking apples, such as Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash apples. Remove cores to 1/2 inch from the bottom of the apples. Make the holes about 3/4 to 1 inch wide.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and pecans.
  3. Place apples in an 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking dish. Stuff each apple with this mixture. Top each with a dot of butter (1/4 Tbsp).
  4. Add boiling water to the baking pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until tender but not mushy. Remove from the oven and enjoy! Serves 4.

Calories: 230; Fat: 8 grams; Fiber: 6 grams

Recipe adapted from

Pumpkin Mousse


3 cups cold, fat-free milk
2 pkg. (1.5 oz.) vanilla flavor fat-free, sugar-free instant pudding
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup thawed fat-free whipped topping


  1. Beat milk and pudding mix in medium bowl and whisk for 2 min.
  2. Blend in pumpkin and spice.
  3. Stir in whipped topping.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Makes 12, 1/2-cup servings.

Calories: 60; Total Protein: 3 grams; Total Fat: 1 gram

Recipe adapted from

Enjoy these fabulous fall super foods while they are plentiful! For more information, please contact me at

Topics: nutrition antioxidants employee wellness immunity fiber

Employee Wellness: The Science Behind Produce Stickers

man shopping in produce resized 600Reading food labels just became a little bit trickier! If you've gotten into the habit of studying the labels of your favorite foods for nutrition information, here's something else to include: produce stickers. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts generally bear stickers with special codes that tell the checkout person how much the food costs. But these labels also provide important information about where the produce came from. Here's what to look for:

  • Four-digit code number: These types of codes, which usually start with a 3 or a 4, mean that the food was conventionally grown and may have been exposed to different chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with an 8: A code like this tells you that the item has been genetically modified, which means technology has altered its genes. This is done for a variety of purposes, such as boosting immunity to insects, producing a bigger crop, making items appear bigger or tastier, etc. The safety of this practice is debated.
  • Five-digit code number beginning with a 9: An item bearing this type of code is organic. If you're looking for your safest bet in terms of avoiding chemicals, this is it.

Wondering when you should splurge for organic? When it comes to peaches, peppers, celery, berries, leafy greens, apples, cherries, and grapes, organic is best. However, foods such as sweet corn, avocados, onions, pineapples, watermelon, mangoes, asparagus, cantaloupe, and kiwi tend to be cleaner even when conventionally grown.


Next time you’re in the grocery store, put your knowledge to the test to see what type of produce offerings it provides!

Topics: employee health nutrition Food for Thought Go Green employee wellness

Employee Health: Healthy Eating on the Night Shift

Many shift workers struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it’s easy to understand why. The body’s natural routine, or its “circadian rhythm,” is significantly disrupted when they work the night shift.

When you have less access to fresher, healthier foods, eating well can be a challenge. Shift workers may also be unable to find an eating schedule that suits them. One idea that may work well is to eat a main meal before the start of a shift in the evening. Since this meal can be eaten unhealthy food options resized 600at home, you have more control over its nutritional content and the cooking methods used.

Once at work, it’s imperative that you bring along healthy snacks; avoid the vending machine and its processed, high-fat food at all costs! Some type of protein mixed with a small amount of carbs and fat is best because it helps you remain alert. Snacking and a light meal at break time can prevent hunger, and another light meal with healthy carbohydrates after work but before sleeping will promote rest and relaxation.

Avoiding caffeine toward the end of the shift is a must. It’s also a good idea, regardless, to replace coffee and pop with plain water or decaf tea.

Employers can help their night-shift workers in a number of ways, such as providing healthy food options, preventing tobacco use, offering 24-hour worksite gyms, and making employee wellness education available at a variety of times.

Topics: employee health nutrition worksite wellness employee wellness sleeping patterns

Top 3 reasons to outsource fitness center management

Emily works with member.jpgOf course, it’s horribly self-serving for us to say that staffing your onsite fitness center and wellness initiatives isn’t a DIY (do it yourself) project.  We’re not above shameless self-promotion, but the truth is, the consequences of making fitness center management a DIY initiative can be costly.  Read on to learn NIFS top three reasons to outsource fitness center management of your retirement community or worksite fitness center. 

Reason #1: Your actual dollar cost is only part of the cost/benefit picture

If you’re reading this thinking, “Outsourcing is expensive – way more expensive than hiring my own personnel”, you’re right.  Of course, costs come in two types: direct and indirect.  So don’t stunt your thinking about this by looking only at the invoice from the outsourcing partner against your compensation profile for your own employee.

Reason #2: Outsourcing fitness center management provides expertise you can't build on your own

We would never lean toward such exaggerations as to say that health promotion, fitness, wellness (insert your favorite name for it here) is akin to rocket science.  It’s not hard, like organic chemistry hard.  But it’s challenging in that call center, customer service kind of way.  Let’s face it, anyone one who works in customer service knows that the hardest, and most rewarding, part of their job is working with the customer.  NIFS staff are in that same customer service spot.

To that end, there is a benefit to having a pool of like-minded peers who are doing the same type of work, sharing in successes, problem-solving through challenges, and brainstorming new ideas together.  When you hire an outsourcing organization to provide your staffing, they have that built in peer support.  When you hire your own wellness professional – they’re essentially on their own to build a peer network of support.

In NIFS case, the support network extends well beyond peer support.  Our staff-built intranet provides program creation ideas, internal form links, peer-to-peer continuing education and more.  All of these staff resources are a benefit to our clients. When they hire NIFS, they not only get their own manager, they get indirect access to our other 70+ like-minded professional peers.

Reason #3: Outsourced partners are experts in fitness so that you don't have to be.

Risk management related to both the physical spaces and the programming connected to those spaces is an important consideration for our clients.  They don’t lose sleep over their liability exposure in our programs though.  Maybe that’s because we’ve been managing corporate and CCRC fitness centers and wellness programs for more than 20 years.  Maybe it’s because all of our staff -- administrators, managers, and specialists – are all fitness and wellness experts.  We know the industry standards for waiver language, pre-activity screening, industry-appropriate certifications, subcontractor liability management, etc.  Speaking of which, when was the last time you checked the status of the liability insurance for your contracted group fitness instructors?

For more on assessing liability in a corporate fitness program, download our white paper here.

To read about managing liability in a retirement community fitness center, download this white paper.

If you’re the “I’ll fix my own brakes” or, “I’ll build my own home addition” type, then you’re more adventurous then I and perhaps you should hire your own wellness professional.  If you’re looking for an outsourcing solution that is more trustworthy and reliable than your mechanic, and less expensive than your home addition, consider checking NIFS out. 

Read our case studies (Sagewood | Marquette | NextGear) to see how we’ve provided scalable and cutting edge solutions for our clients.

Is outsourcing fitness and wellness right for you?

Topics: corporate fitness program corporate fitness Wellness in the Workplace employee wellness senior center solutions corporate fitness centers senior fitness fitness success Fitness Center