Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS: Overcoming a Nutrition and Fitness Backslide

time for changeOvercoming a setback in life can be pretty challenging, be it a job loss, divorce, financial distress, or a setback in reaching the health and fitness goals you have set for yourself at the onset of your fitness journey. So what should you do if you happen to gain weight? Body composition results are less than ideal? Mile time is slower? How you we get back on track before slipping any further back into the old behaviors that probably got you to the point of change in the first place?
Here are a few steps to follow if you experience a slip in the diet, lack of exercise, energy loss, or any other reason (or excuse) that results in a health and fitness setback.

1. Get your head right. Remember the reasons you started your journey to better your life. Work through and dispose of the negative thoughts that are becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. Understand that even the strongest of individuals can relapse into destructive behaviors, and that it is usually due to a detour from positive thinking.
2. Remove yourself. I don’t recommend becoming a hermit who throws potatoes at stray cats (my dad does that), by any means. I do recommend removing yourself from the environments that are filled with triggers that lead to poor decision making. This may mean staying away from friends or family who enable the lapses in judgment. Trust me, you will find who your true friends are when you are taking steps to better yourself and they resent you for it. Sometimes there are just too many bad notes playing in your symphony, so remove them.
3. Return to the plan. You formed a plan to aid you in your journey to health and wellness when you began, so get right back to it! If you consume too much food at a dinner, the next day get right back on your normal eating schedule filled with the proper foods. If you are diligent most of the time, your body’s metabolism will be able to handle a caloric onslaught from time to time, avoiding the setback altogether. Work your plan that is directly related to achieving your goals. That is why it is in place.
4. Get active. Moving can do so much to help you return to your motivated state. Not only are the physical responses to exercise very helpful, but the mental and spiritual benefits of moving are far reaching and will help you put into place the preceding three steps. I get a lot of thinking done out on a run or during a strength-training session. The physiological response to exercise is so much more than cells and muscles. The hormones that are released during exercise can be just what the doctor ordered to get your head right, remove yourself from damaging situations, and get back to your plan of attack.

Arm yourself with these steps to help you bounce back if a setback happens. Just remember that everyone gets knocked down. What matters is whether you get back up! I have learned a great deal from Coach Divine of and am implementing some Seal habits into my daily life. You can read his blog here.

Topics: fitness fitness success healthy habits Fitness Center

Top 10 Corporate Fitness Center Management RFP Questions

handshaking partners resized 600In our more than 20 years of managing clients' fitness centers, we’ve filled out our fair share of requests for proposals (RFPs). We’ve seen hundreds of questions, and we’ve written hundreds of pages. (It’s a lot of tree-killing, we know.)

I’ll be honest: we’d rather just get to know a client, talk about if and how we can meet their needs and exceed their expectations, and then build a business partnership from there. The whole RFP thing is, well, impersonal and frankly exhausting. That’s ironic considering this business is about relationships; helping people improve their health is about as personal as it gets.

Of course, I understand a company’s need to benchmark all candidates and set up some kind of apples-to-apples comparison among vendors. But there has to be a better way to do that “do we want to do business together?” dance.

Despite my griping, RFPs are indeed here to stay, and we’re not always on the back side of an RFP. Occasionally we get asked to outline some relevant RFP questions prior to the issuing of the request. After all the question-and-answer we’ve worked through, I thought I’d put these out there as our top 10 favorite questions to answer. Some of the questions make it on our top 10 because we feel confident with our answers. Other questions made it onto the list because it helped us improve our service to current clients. A few, and maybe you can spot them, made it to the list because of how downright ridiculous they are.

In no apparent order, here are NIFS's top 10 favorite RFP questions:

  1. Describe your candidate interview process. Describe the credentials of your fitness staff.
  2. Explain your philosophy on collaborating with other wellness vendors. Provide examples of when you have worked with other vendors to create well-rounded programs for your clients.
  3. What steps do you take to provide a safe fitness center for the members?
  4. How do you measure member satisfaction? Provide an example of a tool you use to measure satisfaction.
  5. Do you have any experience implementing fitness trails? Would you be able to support this initiative in our employee park?
  6. Please provide a summary of what you expect us (the client) to do to make the onsite fitness center successful.
  7. Explain your experience at designing and equipping corporate fitness centers for other clients.
  8. What services are provided to fitness center members free of charge? What services does your staff provide that are fee-based?
  9. Do you have any experience with bicycle loan programs? We would like to consider having bicycles available for checkout for employees to use for exercise or as transportation from one building to another. Describe how you can support this initiative.
  10. What is your philosophy on leasing versus purchasing equipment?

 Feel free to use these questions in your next RFP, or call me to discuss other options. If you have a ridiculous question to add to this list, please leave your comment below. We’re all ears!

If you’d like NIFS to fill out an RFP for fitness center management for your business, contact Bethany Garrity at or 317-274-3432 x208. We’ll do it, but we’d rather spend time getting to know you, discussing your needs, and deciding whether the business partnership is mutually beneficial.

Topics: corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment Fitness Center RFP request for proposal

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

When Upper Management Exercises in the Corporate Fitness Center

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

workplace fitnessWe’ve all learned that exercise can play an enormous role in lowering one’s stress level and boosting a person’s mood. Supervisors in the workforce are no different—regular exercise has been shown to help those in management roles more effectively cope with their stressors.

This article writes that, unfortunately, when supervisors become overwhelmed with workplace pressures, their direct subordinates are the ones who become victims of the supervisors’ venting, hostile behavior, or negative comments. Therefore, regular exercise routines can not only enhance the physical and mental health of the supervisors, but also the wellbeing of the employees working for them.

Another reason why supervisors, especially those in a company’s upper management, should exercise is to lead by example. When you talk to an average new employee about exercising at the worksite, one of their fears is that their boss might view them as slacking off or just looking for ways to get out of work. When supervisors make exercising in their corporate fitness centers a priority, it shows to their subordinates that taking time for one’s own health is important and acceptable, provided that work duties and deadlines are still being met.

On a larger scale, when upper management, including CEOs and vice presidents, make fitness a priority, it sets a healthy climate for the entire company.

If you are a supervisor of even one individual, consider how your healthy—or unhealthy—choices can impact those around you. Set the standard in your work environment by becoming a leader in health.

Topics: stress corporate fitness centers productivity businesses corporate rewards Fitness Center health culture

New Habits, a Lifetime of Results at NIFS's Slim It to Win It

This blog was written by Lori Griffin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

NIFS, Slim it to Win it“Exercise is boring…,” “I don’t have the time…,” or “I don’t know where to start” are words many have used as excuses at some point or another in regard to a fitness routine or lifestyle change. With the emergence of Slim It to Win It in 2011, NIFS sought to squash not one, but all three of those excuses. With the guidance of health and fitness professionals two hours a week, members teamed up to conquer fun, limit-pushing workouts.

After experiencing personal successes the first year, members anxiously awaited the return of Slim It to Win It, and the second run of the program proved to be life-changing once again. Slim It is a chance for people to step outside their comfort zones and into a new way of life. With a total weight loss of 635 pounds and 1.6 percent body fat lost on average, coaches and participants alike celebrated forming new exercise habits and breaking old eating habits.

Slim It Helps Participants Achieve New Fitness Levels

While the empirical evidence demonstrates the physical success, it is the individual stories that explain the true victories. Participants accomplished fitness feats they never thought possible. From kicking their walking pace up to a jog to finally tackling a box jump, participants used the team atmosphere as fuel in their quest to shed some weight.

Nutrition and Healthy Eating Benefits

Not only did Slim It provide stellar exercise sessions, the program also spurred participants toward healthier eating habits. One participant in particular completely shifted his mindset regarding food. Rather than look for convenience at the last minute during lunch breaks, he learned to plan ahead for healthier, more satisfying options. Another member lost 26 pounds in the 10 weeks and attests to a true change in her body composition. “I am wearing jeans I have not worn in months! Not only did the numbers on the scale change, but I can really see a difference in myself.”

The Fun of Working Out as a Group

In addition to encouraging participants to challenge their fitness boundaries and reset their food mentalities, the program also instills a unique camaraderie among team members. Members exchanged numbers and worked out together outside of the team time. Even as the program ends each year, participants still connect to keep up their fitness.

With Slim It, people discover the fun in working out as a group. For example, coaches encouraged participants to log into a calorie-tracking website and when teammates noticed it had been awhile since someone had tracked his or her food intake, teammates made it a point to razz the individual a bit to get back on track. Each year with Slim It, “teammates” quickly turns into strong friendships rooted in a common lifestyle.

A Lifetime of Fitness Results

At the start of Slim It to Win It, 155 people began a 10-week program that took each of them to a new health and fitness level. With the challenging and encouraging group atmosphere, participants conquered their weight-loss goals. Coaches worked to instill new habits so that weight-loss goals were not only achieved, but also maintained. 

One member comments as to why he chose NIFS’s Slim It program two years in a row: “I’ve been able to maintain the weight loss. In the past the weight would reappear.” Combining raw statistics and personal success stories, it is safe to say Slim It to Win It creates a lifetime of results for NIFS members.

Topics: nutrition weight loss weight management motivation NIFS fitness fitness success Fitness Center

Corporate Fitness: How to Pick a Personal Trainer

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

C  Documents and Settings kgootee My Documents Dropbox Images New personal training resized 600There are many reasons for seeking the help of a personal trainer. Corporate health and fitness specialists can introduce you to an exercise routine, help you break through a rut, or give you the extra boosts of knowledge, motivation, and accountability that you need to achieve the next level in your fitness. But how do you pick a trainer?

Check for Fitness Certifications

First, make sure that your trainer has the appropriate credentials. The most basic certifications on a personal trainer’s resume would be CPR, AED, and first aid; a four-year degree in the health and fitness field; and preferably a certification from a well-recognized organization, for example the American College of Sports Medicine.

While most corporate fitness companies will have already screened potential employees for this information, many commercial gyms require only minimal certifications or experience in the field. Knowing that your trainer has met these standards, you have a better chance of achieving your goals and staying injury-free.

Ask About the Personal Trainer's Background and Specialties

Ask about the trainer’s background and what his or her specialties are. While health and fitness specialists should have experience training with a wide population, most will be honest if they have a passion for certain demographics, for example children or senior citizens. Also, some trainers may be more inclined to work with people looking for specific athletic goals, while other trainers prefer working with those striving for everyday fitness or disease prevention.

Make Sure the Trainer Pays Attention to You

During your consultation and first personal training session, make sure that your trainer thoroughly listens to you and understands your goals. While you are exercising, make sure that he or she is watching your form and not gazing off at the TV in the corner of the gym or chatting with other people during your whole workout. Ask for feedback if they do not give it automatically.

Don’t be afraid to shop around for a personal trainer. Put your fitness into someone else’s hands only when they have shown the experience, interest, and encouragement that you deserve from a personal training relationship.

Topics: corporate fitness fitness success Fitness Center personal trainers injury weight training

What Motivates You to Move?

This blog was written by Sarah Harriman. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

A quick glance around the fitness center and you’ll see dozens of people, each with a different goal drawing them in to exercise. What motivates these people to come in the door and keep them coming back day after day?

Motivation can be both extrinsic (“My wife made me come to the gym”) and intrinsic (“I want to go to the gym”). While both may be effective short term, someone in it for the long haul needs to tap into his or her inner self.

tennis, women, exercise, competitionMotivation Ideas

If you feel like you’re lacking that inner drive, try these ideas:

  • Healthy competition: Make bets with friends and family. Who can lose the most weight in a month? If you’re an athlete, find local events or races. Or, make bets with yourself. How many days in a row can you be physically active?
  • Specific goals: Not seeing improvement can be a leading contributor to lack of motivation. Take a look at your goals and make sure they are specific and measurable. Instead of “I want to lose weight,” try “I will lose 10 pounds before December 1.” Or, modify “I want to be a faster runner” to “I will decrease my 5K time by 10 seconds before September 30.” With clear goals you’ll feel like you’re making progress and you’ll be less likely to be discouraged.
  • A vision: Where do you see yourself as it relates to your goal? Keep track of how your actions contribute to that vision. Be honest and record your thoughts daily on a notepad or in a journal.
  • Motivation loves company: Sharing your goal with a friend can help build your confidence and build on successes. Finding a buddy to partake in your goal not only adds a psychological boost, but ensures accountability. Or go high-tech with your goal by updating your Facebook status, posting a tweet, or blogging about your progress. With a post like “Heading out for a three-mile run!” or “Five pounds down, three to go!” you’ll likely be encouraged and may gain some followers. 

Set Fitness Goals

Intrinsic motivation is fueled by our human desire to be competent, to belong to a group, and to establish control. At the start of the NIFS Go Girl Triathlon Training Program, we encouraged our participants to write down their goals and actions to achieve their goals. Some of the more original responses included:

  • Meet other ladies who enjoy triathlon!
  • Beat my husband’s sprint triathlon time.
  • Pass more people than pass me.

What’s your goal and how do you stay motivated?

Topics: motivation Fitness Center

NIFS Summer Showdown

This blog was written by Diane Miller. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

NIFS, pushups, working out, exerciseAs the summer months are moving past, NIFS Summer Showdown continues to be a huge success. Session 1 concluded on July 15 and drew in a great crowd of people of all ages and abilities throughout the 5-week program. One member on my team was 81 years old and improved his time by 6 minutes. Another member on Lori’s team improved his time by an impressive 16 minutes—outstanding! The Sizzler workout was as follows:

Level 1                             Level 2                            Level 3
500m Row                    800m Row                    2,000m Row
¼-Mile Walk/Run           ½-Mile Walk/Run           1-Mile Run
25 Burpees                   50 Burpees                  75 Burpees
25 Squats                    50 Squats                    75 Squats
25 Sit-ups                   50 Sit-ups                    75 Sit-ups
25 Push-ups                 50 Push-ups                 75 Push-ups
25 TRX Rows                50 Pull-ups                  75 Pull-ups

While the Sizzler workout was easy to modify for the older or less fit population, the Scorcher has proven to be a different type of challenge. The Scorcher workout is not about setting your own time, but about how many repetitions can you complete in a set time frame. Exercises were all designed to use various pieces of equipment to challenge the entire body. Kettlebell Swings, Burpee Slams, Bentover Rows, and TRX crunches have proven to be a fun, yet challenging workout.

Round 2 ends August 20.. Let’s see how this next group challenges out.

So, have you tried the Sizzler or Scorcher workout yet? Let us know how you did!


Topics: Fitness Center abs

Technology and Obesity

This blog was written by Melissa Cusick. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

obesity, health and wellness, technologyIn the world of technology, time equals improvement and efficiency. Back in the day we had computers that occupied the space of an entire room and Zack Morris–sized cell phones. Now we have computers that fit in the palm of a hand and Zoolander-sized cell phones. It seems that as more is discovered in the world of technology, items have become smaller and more efficient. Interestingly enough, this concept does not seem to apply to people.

In 1995 when the United States began tracking obesity rates, Mississippi had the nation’s highest adult obesity rate at 19.8 percent. Now, 16 years later in 2011, Colorado has the nation’s lowest adult obesity rate at 19.4 percent. As you can see, what used to be the upper end of the nation’s obesity scale is now at the extreme low end of the spectrum. This is concerning because common conditions associated with obesity include but are not limited to high cholesterol and triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, all conditions that can be avoided with proper nutrition and activity.

Nowadays, we have low-calorie options at stores and restaurants, fitness centers popping up on virtually every corner, and educational tools at our fingertips. We can download an app on our tiny cell phones to count calories or find a healthy restaurant or fitness facility, but do we? Something common to the field of technology and humans is that bigger is not always better. What has changed in our society that has influenced the adult obesity rate to increase so severely?

Topics: Fitness Center

Thomas’ Corner: Get The Most Out of Your Recovery Phase

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

dumbbell training, NIFS, fitness centerRumor has it, you build muscle by lifting weights, doing cardio, and being physically active every day. Okay, that is important along with a balanced nutrition plan; but in reality, muscle is built during your recovery phase.

For those who work out multiple times per day or work the same muscle groups day in and day out and see little or no growth, you may not be allowing your body ample time to rebuild itself. This is also known as overtraining, which can lead to such undesired effects as lack of physical progression, chronic fatigue, compounding injuries, and overall boredom. Keep in mind, most people do not overtrain.

How can you get the most out of your recovery phase? Because you need calories and nutrients to exercise, first plan to consume something before a workout; the window can vary, but at least you have something in the tank. Next, make it a priority to eat sometime soon after you finish; your body is searching for ways to replenish and grow. Finally, rest up. Muscle is built not while you work out, but when you are recovering.


Topics: Fitness Center Thomas' Corner