Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Free Workout Friday: Pushups

free workout friday

Why chose to do pushups over a chest press? For most, pushups may seem harder than a chest press which is all the more reason to get on the floor and increase your upper body strength the old fashion way. Performing pushups on a regular basis helps to build strength in the arms, shoulders, forearms, wrist, and chest. That’s a lot of muscles from just one exercise! Performing pushups correctly can also help to build core strength. I teach a couple strength classes a week at a corporate fitness center and I’m always reminding my participants to use their core just as much as their upper bodies when performing variations of pushups.

Speaking of variations, pushups can be fun because you can get creative from the traditional exercise. Typically, women have less upper body strength than men but that’s no excuse anymore! There are modifications so everyone can benefit from them. Performing pushups on the knees is a little less intense than up on the toes. The best part about this simple yet complex exercise is it requires minimal space and equipment. You can get a great upper body workout in your hotel room or living room performing a variety of pushups. Try some of these I’ve listed for you below…..

  • Uneven pushups – One hand up on a step, medicine ball, or stack a couple of books (example – phone book) and the other hand on the floor, arms straight. Lower chest & and hips towards the floor, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 10 reps then switch hands for 10 more. These, just like most, can be done on your knees or toes.
  • Incline pushups – Place hands on the edge of the bathtub, step, couch, or bed (something stable), arms straight. Lower chest & and hips down, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 12-15 reps.
  • Decline pushups– Place feet up on a step, edge of the bathtub, couch, chair, stability or BOSU ball, or bed (something stable), hands on the floor & arms straight. Lower chest & and hips down, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 12-15 reps.
    • This is a more advanced exercise because it may be challenging to do this on the knees. Although, if you use a stability ball place the thighs on the ball for less intensity. Or, roll out so the feet are on the ball to increase intensity.
    • Push up jacks– Perform a regular pushup, hands & feet on the floor. Lower chest & and hips towards the floor, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Then, hop both feet apart and back together similar to a jumping jack but on the toes with hands on the floor. One jack to one pushup equals one rep. Perform 10-12 reps.
      • If you want to do the push up on the knees, pop up on the toes for the jack part, then back to the knees for the push up.

Pushups get the heart rate up for a great upper body strength workout, so don’t be surprised if you are out of breath! Ready, set, go!!

Topics: employee health Free Workout Friday fitness muscle endurance

Free Workout Friday: March Madness Workout

Free Workout FridayYou don’t have to be a collegiate athlete to join in the fun of NCAA’s March Madness! The tournament is now in full swing. You may be glued to the TV and swept up in “bracketology,” but you can use the half-time breaks to sneak in a quick workout!

Cardio is important for basketball or any sport that involves constant running up and down a court or field. Quick reaction time is also important for basketball players so that they can capitalize on rebounds and open holes in the opposing team’s defense. As for strength training, developing power in the legs for jumping is crucial as well as building upper-body strength for long passes and three-point shots.

The following exercises are similar to those that basketball athletes use to help them train for the big game. But they are a fun challenge for anyone! View the video below for exercise demonstrations.

  1. Basketball single-leg squat
  2. Basketball push-ups
  3. Basketball lunges (side to right and crossover to left)
  4. Medicine ball squat throws
  5. Medicine ball slams

The NCAA Men’s Final Four takes place in Atlanta this year, with the championship game on April 8. The Women’s Final Four will happen in New Orleans, with their final game taking place on April 9. For more information about March Madness, click here!

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Topics: Free Workout Friday fitness cardio strength training

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

The Simple Truth about Exercise Adherence in Senior Fitness

active seniorThe New Year often provides the fitness industry with a boom of customers hoping to hold true to their resolutions. Many of those resolutions often pertain to unrealistic weight-loss goals.

Older Adults Exercise for Different Reasons

While we still see a boost in participation at our retirement community fitness centers in the New Year, the resolutions are often for a different reason. Many older adults exercise to maintain a healthy weight or to try to lose weight, but they understand the value in physical activity beyond vanity. As a fitness professional, it is refreshing to serve the needs of older adults in retirement communities who understand the value of living a physically active lifestyle for their overall health and well-being.

When a physically active lifestyle is adopted for the wrong reasons, it can be more difficult to adhere to for the long term. This is likely why the surge in participation in January often trickles off in mid-February at commercial gyms. However, when older adults adopt a physically active lifestyle, particularly one that has been designed for their individual needs, the benefits of that program help them adhere.

Selling the Benefits of Exercise in Retirement Communities

In our retirement community fitness centers, our participation levels gain momentum as the year progresses, and we don’t see that drop in participation. This isn’t all that surprising. We hear feedback from residents stating they have more energy, less joint pain, improved sleep, an easier time performing ADLs, and more overall endurance.

Kick off a motivating incentive program in your retirement community fitness program in the New Year to recruit new residents to exercise and inspire existing participants. Getting the residents started is half the battle. The benefits of exercise can often sell the adherence component for you!

Topics: exercise motivation senior fitness management fitness senior fitness

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

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout FridaySome exercise is better than none!

We all know how difficult it can be to make time for exercise when you have a million things to do in the day. Sometimes making it to the gym (or even the on site fitness center) just does not make the cut, even though you know it should be a priority. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get some exercise in on days that the gym is just out of the question.

Changing your daily routine to fit in 30 minutes of exercise can put you in a better mood and takes away the guilt of missing a workout. These are some great alternatives for exercise to help you burn some calories throughout the day.

Park farther away. Whether at work or at the grocery store, park in the back of the parking lot so you have to walk a little farther. It will take some extra time to get inside, but those few extra feet you need to walk will add up by the end of the week.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Taking the stairs is a great way to get your heart pumping and burn some extra calories while at work. This is also something that you could do for 10 minutes in between meetings. Instead of grabbing some coffee, hit the stairs and climb up and down for 10 minutes.

Exercise on your lunch break. There are several ways for you to get in 15 to 30 minutes of exercise on your lunch break depending on how long you have. A few great ideas are walking around the building; climbing stairs; or doing jumping jacks, push ups, or crunches.

Grab the basket at the grocery store. When you carry the basket, you’re using your upper-body much more than you do when pushing a cart.

Simple and easy, take the next few minutes to rotate through these simple exercises three times, 10-15 reps each:

1. Chair Dips - stand in front of a stable chair, place your hands on the seat of the chair and walk your feet out in front of you.  The further out you place your feet, the harder the exercise.  Now slowly lower your body, bending at the elbows until they reach 90 degrees and then straighten your arms to the starting position.

2.  Squats - with your feet hip width apart, keeping your chest up slowly sit back as if you were to sit in a chair.  As you lower your body keep your knees in line with your ankles, do not allow your knees to go out past your toes.  Once your thigh is parallel to the ground, drive through your heels to stand up.

3.  Push ups - place your hands shoulder width apart on the floor, either remaining on your knees or up on your toes, walk your hands out until your body forms a straight line.  Avoid letting your hips drop or raise up, do your best to maintain proper form.  Slowly bend your elbows lowing your chest and body to the floor maintaining that straight line.  Once you are about a fist width from the floor push through your hands, chest and shoulders to the starting position.

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Topics: exercise at work exercise corporate fitness worksite wellness Free Workout Friday fitness calories

NIFS: January Class of the Month - Bodycombat

Written by Tara Deal, NIFS Group Fitness Instructor.

Les Mills Body CombatIf you are new to group fitness, or new to the Les Mills program, then the term “Bodycombat” may sound a bit intimidating.  If you have attended even just one Bodycombat class, then you know that this intense cardio workout focuses on utilizing mixed martial arts moves such as punches and kicks to strengthen the entire body.


NIFS Body CombatThis past Tuesday, January 8, NIFS hosted an Intro to Bodycombat class for newcomers, beginners, and anyone who wanted to understand a little bit more about what was going on behind the punch.  There was a wide variety of people attending the class, and everyone walked of off the court with a better understanding of how to properly execute the various punches, kicks, blocks and other mixed martial arts moves.  

The class began with a group warm-up to get everyone moving and comfortable with the space on the gym floor.  We then broke down the Bodycombat workout into smaller manageable pieces of just upper body exercises and then lower body exercises.  We were able to learn the proper technique for all of the basic punches and kicks, and then apply the new and perfected techniques we learned to actual Bodycombat tracks in a shortened class.

NIFS Body CombatBodycombat is for everyone at a moderate-intermediate fitness level, and the moves are simple so little coordination is required!  When you attend a regular Bodycombat class, you should expect to be led by your instructor through the martial arts moves drawn from various disciplines such as karate, taekwondo, tai chi, and muy thai while moving to the beat of heart pounding music.   At the end of the class, you will feel strong, empowered, and slightly invincible.  

Like all of the Les Mills classes, a new release of music and exercises is released every three months to keep your body guessing, keep the workout interesting, and keep your body in top-notch condition.

No equipment is needed for this class, just the warrior within, a towel for your sweat, and a water bottle. 

Make sure to join Tasha and Emily for Bodycombat classes on Mondays at 5:30pm and Wednesdays at 6:35pm on the auxiliary court at NIFS Fitness Center in Indianapolis.


Topics: group exercise NIFS fitness cardio les mills martial arts

NIFS Fitness Management: 2013 Resolutions

Every year we set new resolutions with every intention to improve our health, stay better organized, lose weight… the list goes on.  Often these fall to the wayside and we fall back into our routines we know so well.  We are kicking the year off by asking some of our fitness staff what their 2013 resolutions are and if you keep reading you will see that even individuals in our industry have to recommit each year!

New Year… New You… Resolutions from NIFS Fitness Management:

PPohlmannPenny Pohlmann: Wellness Center Manager - Atlanta, GA

I noticed that our family’s TV/Internet usage on week nights had gotten out of control lately so we have resolved to limit it this year. We plan to watch no more than two hours of TV and spend no more than one hour in front of the computer on weeknights with limited time on weekends as well. We hope to spend the time we’d ordinarily be in front of the TV or computer reading, cleaning, and completing other odd jobs around the house that never seem to get done.  We also plan to hike all 76.4 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia before the end of the year!

KSwiftKimberlee Swift: Fitness Manager – Towson, MD

This year I have decided to go VEGAN! I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years, and feel that giving up all animal byproducts will only increase my health, wellness, and vitality. I also look at this change as my way to give back to the environment, and significantly decrease the impact my dietary choices have on our ecosystem.


H  NIFS Pictures blog pics CJohnson resized 600Callie Johnson: Wellness Program Manager - Indianapolis, IN

My resolution this year is to live more consistently in all aspects of my life!  I plan to do this by: eating cleaner, living simpler and being happy with less, being more appreciative of all around me, and being a better, more phenomenal, more genuine ME!


MBoyleMichael Boyle: Manager – St. Louis, MO

I tend to be overzealous when it comes to New Year’s resolutions and I actually come up with an entire list each year, but for now I’ll focus on a few of the ones that are important to me. First, I’d like to spend more time with God. Whether it’s through reading the Bible, volunteering or just being more giving, I want to spend more time in His presence. I’d also like to cook dinner for my wife at least once per week. As far as fitness is concerned, I’ve got an overall plan of action that culminates in a sub 1h45m half marathon. Here we go!

DCarterDonisha Carter: HFS - Indianapolis, IN

Run the Mini, Save money! My main goal this year is to compete and finish my first ever Mini Marathon. I’ve managed to complete step 1 (actually signing up for the Mini)! I’m a little nervous because I’ve never considered myself a “runner”, we’ll see how well this goes. Another resolution for me this year is to shop less and save more.  I’d really like to focus on paying off my credit card and student loan.


KThielKimmberly Thiel: Manager – Middletown, NY

My goal for 2013 is to increase my strength and endurance to a point where I can compete with the males on my team for the Spartan Races this summer. I got my butt kicked by these races last year and I won’t let it happen again. This year’s teams can count on me to be a coach and motivator in the pre-race season and the ‘white rabbit’ on race day! Bring it on boys!


JPearsonJenna Pearson: Wellness Center Manager - Albany, NY

Put my own oxygen mask on first! It wasn’t until I was flying home from spending Christmas and New Year’s in England that I set my New Year’s resolution.   As we were getting ready to take off, the stewardess said something I’ve heard hundreds of times before, but this time it meant something different.  I need to learn to put my own oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs.  I get so consumed with making other people happy and taking care of everyone around me that I have literally worried myself sick!  It’s time to start taking better care of myself, making time to do the things that I want to do, because every day is a gift and sometimes you just need to be a little selfish.



AKistnerAdrienne Kistner:  Wellness Manager - Cincinnati OH

My biggest resolution for 2013 is to have a baby!  This little miracle baby was not suppose to be in the cards for me, so I am super excited to give birth to a baby boy at the end of March.  From a fitness standpoint, I am hoping to resume my Ironman training as soon as the doctor clears me and I plan on competing in my first half Ironman by the end of the year.  Nutritionally, I plan on cutting back on my wine-drinking habit.  I’m off to a good start, being pregnant, so I’m hoping to continue after the baby is born.  Finally, I have several projects around the house that are on my to-do list for 2013.  A bathroom renovation is currently in the works.


ETrenthamErin Trentham:  Wellness Center Manager - Columbus, GA

My first resolution is to cook more.  I know how to cook the basics (i.e. meat and veggies), but I really want to try and think outside the box and come up with some new dinners for my family.  I know my husband would love this!  I would also like to concentrate on my flexibility more (yes I know we are in the fitness industry).  I tend to neglect that aspect of my workouts. 



SPenceStephanie Pence: Assistant Manager - Mason, OH

Expand my Cooking Knowledge!! My New Year’s resolution is to try one new recipe a week.  I would like to expand my cooking abilities and add new healthy recipes to my cookbook.  I have never been a very good cook so I would like to take this year to become more comfortable in the kitchen.  Hopefully I won’t be eating too many burnt dinners!


KLedbetterKeith Ledbetter: Fitness Center Manager – Indianapolis, IN

Organize Everything… My New Year’s resolution is to get organized. My plan is to organize one room a month, for the first six months. The following six months go back and tweak and the system I put in place the first time around. Step one is the bedroom, starting with the closet. 





Sara Durham: Wellness Center Manager – Indianapolis, IN

To cook more nutritious meals at home for my family rather than eating out. (So far so good)




RHuffmanRachel Huffman: HFS – Indianapolis, IN

Shift away from my “procrastinate now, don’t put it off” habits.  I’ve never been one to create a list of resolutions, because taking on a laundry list of changes all at once quickly becomes daunting.  This is simply because we try to conquer everything at once rather than taking baby steps toward a better direction.  In my attempt to continue in a “better direction”, this year I will focus on altering the choices that can be made on a conscious level, namely the ones that sound like this: “Hmm, I can do that later.”  This small change is so simple, yet so effective, because it taps into and balances my social life, organizational habits, the cleanliness of my home, and, subsequently, my work life.  I recently asked a friend to teach me his ways of keeping up with his social life and responsibilities all while having an adult job.  “Just do it,” he responded.  So I’m going to just do it.



Mistie Hayhow: HFS - Indianapolis, IN

Pick up a new hobby. I received a sewing machine for christmas so my goal for the new year is to learn to sew. I think the gift was a hint from my family that they will be expecting some hand made gifts this year. So in 2013 I will test my patience and creative and hopefully have a new hobby to enjoy in my spare time!



We want to know... What resolutions do you plan to stick with in 2013?



Topics: Be inspired Aim High fitness corporate fitness managment fitness success healthy habits resolutions staying active

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

Employee Health: Take Your Exercise Routine on Vacation

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

travel activitiesPreparing for a summer vacation? Be sure to bring workout attire! Instead of letting your exercise routine take off several days as well, check out some of the following fitness ideas and embrace the opportunity to be rejuvenated both physically and mentally.

Outdoor Fitness

Want to take advantage of the great outdoors? Here are some ways to exercise outside while on vacation:

  • Explore a new city on foot (or on two wheels): take a run, walk, or bike ride.
  • Bring the entire family to sightsee.
  • Have a beach nearby? A sunrise or sunset can set the stage for a great run. Incorporate pushups, lunges, squats, and core work in the sand.
  • Beach volleyball and a Frisbee or football toss will appeal to kids.
  • Seek out opportunities for surfing, paddle surfing, swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
  • Hiking, tennis, and hitting the links (sans cart!) will burn calories while you enjoy the sunshine.

 Gym Fitness on the Road

Not ready to give up your gym-junkie habits? Here are some ways to get in a fitness center workout:

  • Most hotels will have a fitness center, although you may have to get a bit creative since the equipment selection can be limited.
  • Swap the stairstepper for the real thing: climb the stairs at the hotel.
  • No hotel gym? Check to see whether they offer passes to a local fitness center.

 Staying Fit in a Hotel Room

 Stuck in the room? You can still stay active:

  • Bring a mat to practice yoga.
  • Strength train with resistance bands or body-weight exercises (pushups, squats, tricep dips, etc.).
  • Stationary exercises like jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees, and squat jumps will get your heart pumping.
Topics: employee health exercise fitness yoga