Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Corporate Fitness Center Turns 20 Years Old!

This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of joining one of our long-time staff members at his corporate client’s fitness center for their 20th anniversary.  In the last 20 years, that location has relocated once, and evolved significantly; the offerings have changed as trends in the fitness industry have changed. 

Step aerobics has been replaced by indoor cycling offerings, and Zumba fills a spot once held by more “old school” group class formats.  They’ve gone through several treadmills, and other types of equipment.  (Though they still have a few original cardio pieces that are kickin’ it!)

Perhaps most importantly, we’re proud to say that the manager of the facility has NOT changed…and his members love him for it.  NIFS knows how important personal relationships are to successful corporate health initiatives, and Scott has helped more than his share of associates make positive lifestyle changes over the last several years. 

SW old  SW new 

The 20th anniversary celebration was marked with fun carnival-type games (great for ANY fitness level!), fun prizes (necessary for any celebration!), and brand new selectorized strength equipment from Cybex.  They've been a great partner for us with great equipment, and solid service.

Corporate Fitness Games Cybex strength

NIFS is proud to be a long standing provider of fitness center management services for this client, and we’re grateful to Scott for his long service to his members.

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program exercise corporate fitness Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness employee wellness corporate fitness centers business fitness solutions

Pain at the Pump Fuels a Boost in Employee Health

This blog was written by Anna Hiple. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

walking, biking, gas pricesAs gas prices creep higher and you’re forced to dig deeper into your pocketbook, it can certainly be difficult to look at the bright side of what seems to be that inevitable price spike as the weather warms up. However, the next time you grudgingly fill up your tank, ponder the health benefits that are to be had as a result of higher prices.

First, there’s the most obvious: people will bike and walk more (and use public transportation), which certainly makes sense in a country where 50 percent of commuters are traveling five miles or less to the office. Traveling by bicycle or on foot provides moderate-intensity exercise that is generally safe for individuals of all ages and fitness abilities, and can provide a quality workout for someone who is pressed for time by the demands of work and family.

With fewer vehicles on the road comes less pollution, beneficial to both the environment and health. Less traffic fatalities also result, due not only to the decreased amount of cars but the simple fact that motorists drive more slowly to conserve gas. Speaking of saving gas, instead of making circles around the parking lot to snag the closest spot, now is the perfect opportunity to heed that oft-heard tip of parking in the farthest space from your destination!

The effects can trickle down to lifestyle choices as well. With less spending money to be had, families will be more likely to cook healthier meals at home as opposed to eating out. Outings for the family or for couples can include activities like biking or hiking instead of trips to the movies or a restaurant.

And while you're pinching pennies, don't forget that your corporate wellness center provides an affordable alternative to an expensive gym membership. This season, make that pain at the pump work in your favor toward a healthier body!

Topics: exercise at work exercise biking walking exercise at home corporate fitness centers

The Truth about ROI and your Corporate Fitness Center (part 2)

In part 1 of this blog series, I came out and said it.  Corporate wellness isn't all about ROI - it's about people, about doing the right thing, treating people right, making it easier for employees to choose better health. 

So onto the second consideration...the intangibles, the things we cannot measure, but that have unlimited value.

  • A call center employee has never exercised, but when she startsworksites with your company, she ventures into the onsite fitness center to take a look. She makes a connection with the compassionate staff and within a few weeks of her hire date, she starts exercising in your fitness center. One year later, she is 15 pounds lighter, free from depression medication, and getting better sleep each night. She has less out-of-pocket expense (measureable), the company is paying less for her health care (measureable), and she is more productive for and loyal to your organization for the support she received in the corporate fitness center (unquantifiable).

  • The middle manager has smoked for years. Lacking the confidence to stop on his own, he enters your worksite program and finds success with the support of free nicotine replacement therapy, group cessation classes at work, and the collaborative support from the corporate fitness staff. He swapped his costly nicotine habit for daily 30-minute walks. He is free from the routine cost of buying cigarettes (measurable), the company doesn’t carry the extra cost burden associated with employees who use tobacco (measureable), and his heart health, confidence, and outlook on life are forever changed (unquantifiable).

Value is in the eye of the beholder. Create an environment that encourages employees to participate, and your investment will come back to you—not through an algorithm, but in testimonials.

Have a testimonial to share about the ways your employer has supported your efforts to choose better health?  Tell us about it!

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness centers; return on investement

Why Women Need Strength Training at the Corporate Fitness Center

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

women strength trainingAt lot of women shy away from strength training for fear of bulking up. But strength training is especially important for women to help build strong and healthy bones. Because of our low levels of testosterone, most women can’t bulk up. Strength training will also help to burn more calories and fat while at rest. Here are some more reasons why strength training is important for women:

10 Reasons Women Should Do Strength Training

  1. Lose body fat
  2. Gain strength without bulking up
  3. Decrease your risk of osteoporosis
  4. Improve your athletic performance
  5. Be physically stronger
  6. Reduce your risk of injury, back pain, and arthritis
  7. Reduce your risk of heart disease
  8. Reduce your risk of diabetes
  9. Benefit from starting at any point in your life
  10. Improve your attitude and fight depression

How to Do Strength Training

Running on the treadmill for several minutes each day might not show a lot of results, but adding in some strength training will get results faster. There are several different ways to strength train, and it doesn’t have to involve walking into an intimidating all-male weight room. You can use resistance bands, weight machines, free weights, kettlebells, or your own body weight.

Schedule an appointment with your corporate wellness staff to figure out the best type of strength training for you. And don’t avoid your strength classes at your onsite corporate fitness center!

Topics: exercise at work fitness corporate fitness centers weight training women

Walking for Employee Health

This blog was written by Kara Gootee-Robinson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

April is the perfect month to start walking for exercise, or to simply ease back into a workout regimen. It is easy to do and can be done anywhere. All you need is a good pair of tennis shoes.

There are many health benefits associated with walking. It helps to lower LDL levels (“bad cholesterol”), raise HDL levels (“good cholesterol”), lower blood pressure, reduce risk of type-2 diabetes, manage weight, improve mood, and increase overall fitness level.

How to Start a Walking Programwalking shoes

Remember to begin slowly when starting a walking program. Take a few minutes to prepare yourself at the beginning of every walk. Wear comfortable clothing and protective shoes. Begin each walk with a five-minute warm-up at a comfortable pace and then stop to stretch major muscle groups. This will increase your heart rate and help prevent injuries. After each workout, cool down for five minutes at a comfortable pace.

It is important to follow proper technique when walking. Head should be held high, shoulders down and relaxed, arms swinging naturally at side, and feet should be shoulder-width apart.

Setting Exercise Goals

Setting realistic goals will keep you motivated and more focused on the end result. Make a few short-term goals such as “I will walk three times each week.” Also set a long-term goal so you know what you are working toward. An example of a long-term goal is, “I will be able to walk three miles after three months of walking.”

Tracking progress will help keep you motivated. It will also show improvements over time. Record in a notebook the date and how long each walk was.

The most important thing is to have fun! If you enjoy what you are doing, you will continue doing it. Change your walking route often to prevent you from getting bored. Try walking at lunch and invite a few coworkers to join you!

Topics: exercise at work employee health exercise adapting to exercise walking

Office Wellness: Using a Stability Ball to Exercise at Your Desk

exercise ball, stability ball as a chairSome of the biggest issues I see in corporate fitness clients with sedentary office jobs are a weak lower back and poor shoulder posture. When we sit in a chair, staring at a computer screen for eight hours of the day, our core tends to get a little soggy. Posture and core strength can easily be improved by simply switching out your swiveling office chair for a stability ball, sometimes called a Swiss ball or physio ball.

Sitting on an unstable ball immediately engages your core and forces you to sit tall and upright. Not only does it instantly improve posture, it also serves as a great tool to have in your office to use for short bouts of exercise. Try replacing your office chair with a stability ball for at least an hour per day. Then, at the end of that hour, try these posture enhancing exercises:

  • Plank: Place your elbows just below the top of the ball. Extend your legs behind you, balancing on your toes and elbows. Keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your hips and knees. Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Shoulder I-Y-Ts: Place your stomach on the ball so that your body is at a 45-degree angle with your hands touching the floor in front of you. With your thumbs up and moving only at your shoulders, lift your arms so that your upper arms come right by your ears, forming the letter I with each arm. After 10 repetitions, move your arms out to a 45-degree angle, forming the letter Y. Again, moving only at the shoulders, lift your arms into a Y position. Lower your arms and repeat 10 times. Next, move your arms straight out to 180 degrees, a T position. Lift your arms and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Lower and repeat 10 times.
Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness

Corporate Fitness and March Basketball

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Many of us have sedentary jobs and get very little physical activity, planned or otherwise. Additionally, it doesn’t help our waistlines that many of us prefer to spend our leisure time stagnant as well. With some planning and creativity, you can get your less-than-active hobbies moving.

Getting a Workout While Watching TV

It’s March, and I lovemarch madness college basketball, so for the next few weekends I could park myself on the couch for hours of entertainment and bliss without moving a muscle. However, I know that long periods of inactivity have dangerous consequences. How can I “squeeze” some activity into my basketball watching marathon?

I get into the action with this “game” I’ve created for myself. When my team makes a three-pointer, I do five push-ups. Free-throws equal five squats each. I stretch during time-outs, and for every 10 points my team scores, I hold the plank for one minute. By the end of the game, regardless of how well my team played, I’ve probably gotten quite a bit of activity.

Cue Yourself to Take Exercise Breaks at Home and Work

If your hobby isn’t already active like hiking or biking, what reminders or cues can you create to remind yourself to take an activity break? Maybe you can take a lap or two around the block at the end of each chapter you read in your novel. Perhaps you can take a break to play with your kids outside when you finish a page in your scrapbook.

This type of activity can also be included in your workday, too. In fact, employees who get more physical activity are more productive at work. A well-rounded corporate wellness program can help you determine how to get your employees more active each day.  

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work exercise at home productivity staying active

Corporate Fitness: Should I Exercise When I’m Sick?

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

exercising while sick, cold and fluMost people fall victim to mild colds or other bugs in the course of the year, making them second guess whether or not they can still exercise while being sick. Sometimes, when you are sick, you are not physically able to exercise, so the obvious choice is to stay home and rest. But what if you just have the sniffles or a pesky sore throat?

WebMD says that in most cases, practicing exercise restraint is the safest bet. It is a myth that exercising can sweat out toxins. Your immune system has the sole responsibility of fighting and protecting from illness.

Here are some situations in which to definitely avoid the gym:

  • If you are contagious. First and foremost, if you think there is any chance you could pass on an illness to other participants in your corporate fitness center, please stay home. Gym equipment is a major carrier of germs. Different sicknesses have varying lengths of contagion periods. A person with a very severe stomach virus can be contagious up to a week before he or she experiences symptoms and up to two weeks after recovery.
  • If the type of sickness will worsen with exercise. Respiratory infections can be aggravated by working out, especially by performing high-intensity cardio. Migraines, other headaches, or body aches can also worsen with the movement of exercise. Ask yourself whether there is a chance the exercise session will leave you worse off than before.
  • If your symptoms are below the neck. In one of my Exercise Science courses, we were taught that if symptoms were only above the neck and no fever was present, a person might be fine to continue working out, but at a lighter level. However, symptoms from the neck down, for instance nausea or stomach pain, can worsen with exercise.

When you do resume exercise after being sick, start light and build your way back to the level you were previously at. The good news is that a boosted immune system is a well-known benefit of a regular exercise routine, so encourage your corporate wellness participants to keep moving while they are healthy!


Topics: exercise at work exercise exercise at home

Corporate Fitness: How to Fit Exercise into a Demanding Workday

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

busy day, time for exercise, corporate wellnessWhen cuts are being made in your organization, there may be even more pressure to earn your keep and ensure you’re meeting work demands. Finding time to exercise during the day may not be an option when workloads are mounting.

When weight gain seems inevitable in the midst of the stress, keep in mind that it is preventable with a bit of planning. Decide exactly how you will still get in some exercise, even if it is not as much as you’d like.

Here are a few tips:

  • Take every opportunity. Instead of sending an e-mail to a colleague, take a quick walk to her desk and ask her your question in person. You can also take a break from sitting by standing up when you take calls on the phone. Use the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the chance. Even these small activities can help minimize stiffness.
  • Arrive early, stay late. Even if you can’t squeeze in a 30-minute walk in your wellness center during the day, three 10-minute walks throughout the day can be just as beneficial. Arrive to work 10 minutes early so you can spend 10 minutes walking on the treadmill before you get to your desk. If you can spare 10 minutes during the day and 10 more after work, you will have squeezed in a 30-minute aerobic workout.
  • Get personal. Staff in your corporate wellness program can design an individualized, effective, and time-efficient workout for you. With knowledge of your goals and time constraints, a qualified fitness specialist should be able to walk you through an exercise program that is appropriate for your skill level and availability.

What do you do to fit in exercise when you’re short on time?

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work corporate fitness demanding work schedule corporate cutbacks

Join Your Corporate Fitness Center's Walking Groups

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

exercise group, walking groups, walk at workI think walking, no matter what speed, is good for your health. Granted, you are going to burn more calories, get your heart rate up higher, and cover more ground if you pick up the pace while walking. Walking is low impact and doesn’t require equipment or a gym membership. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and possibly a walking partner.

Research shows that regular, brisk walking can better your heart health just the same as jogging or vigorous exercise. It can be gentler on your joints than other forms of activity. There is also a decreased risk of injury with walking compared to other forms of exercise.

A brisk walk can help clear your mind after a stressful day at work and help to decrease your waistline at the same time. Walking on a regular basis can help to improve your mood and self-esteem, which will lead to a happier and longer life for you!  

Check with your corporate fitness center to join walking groups this summer and fall. Working in corporate health and wellness, I’ve created walking/running route maps so that members can get some fresh air while being active at work.  

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program disease prevention