Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Get Rid of Excuses and Find Time and Motivation to Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-200554312-003.jpgWe have all made the excuse that we don’t have the time to exercise. If you have children, this excuse is even more likely. You have to get the kids ready in the morning, you work all day, you get off work, pick up the kids, and take them to their after-school activities. After that you’re finally getting home to cook dinner and relax with the family. Upon finishing dinner, it’s time to shower and go to bed. Now, I know that may feel like an exhausting day and that you have no time for yourself, but if you really look for it there is plenty of time to fit in some exercise.

Finding Small Ways for Staying Active 

Now is time to throw the excuses out the window. Exercising does not have to be a 30 or 60-minute workout. You can easily achieve your daily recommended exercise in small bouts of 10 minutes. One of the easiest ways you can achieve this is by parking in the back row at work rather than trying to drive around and find the closest spot possible. If you are one of those individuals, it’s time to switch up your routine.

Encouraging Exercise at Work

Leaders in the workforce can be great facilitators of physical activity. If you are a leader in your workplace, try making an effort to encourage your employees to move more. One great way to get your employees up and away from their desks is by having walking meetings.

Many individuals today are using activity trackers to help them stay on top of their movements. Friendly competitions within your workgroup are a great way to promote physical activity as well as boost company morale.

Finding Workout Motivation and Accountability

The key to becoming healthier is finding the physical activities that you enjoy doing most so that you will keep doing them. Using the buddy method is a great way to keep yourself accountable. If there are days you are feeling unmotivated to exercise, your friend, family member, or co-worker can be there to help encourage you along.  Set a schedule and stick to it.

Get the Help You Need to Stay Healthy

The biggest thing to take away is that there are endless ways that you can achieve your health and exercise goals. If you are struggling to find a way to fit exercise into your day, seek the help you need. Whether it’s downloading an app, getting a health coach, or simply learning which physical activities you need to be doing, the more you can get up and move, the better health benefits you will gain. So stop using those old, worn-out excuses and become a healthier you today!

Need tips for adding exercise to your worksite?  Click below to download our whitepaper for tips from NIFS. 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: exercise at work exercise motivation staying active accountability

Corporate Fitness: Should You Pay Employees for Workouts?

 

ThinkstockPhotos-468984741.jpgThere’s a lot of misinformation out there on what is and is not good for you. The science changes all the time; unfortunately, changes in health information can sometimes depend on who’s funding the provider. So it can be hard to trust the latest press release “proving” the next best strategy for preventing disease and living longer. Despite the confusing messaging, there are a few constants on health you can count on:

  • Tobacco use is bad for you.
  • Moving your body is good for you.

I don’t want to get into a discussion of which is more important to employee health; there are too many complicating and personal factors to establish such a case. Instead, I’ll focus on physical activity because I think it represents a substantial area of opportunity for employers when considering options that fit into the “doing wellness for (or even with) employees” mantra.

Plenty of employers offer some kind of option for exercise at work, whether that be with group exercise classes onsite, workouts in a full-blown corporate fitness center, or walking trails on the property. In most cases those amenities/offerings are a use-at-your-own-risk proposition. There’s very little leadership support or communication about how to get involved, so only those employees who feel most strongly about pursuing regular exercise actually have the motivation to engage. And then employers wonder why participation is so low.

So here we are at this weird crossroads where employers try a few fitness-based options at the worksite for employees, very few employees enjoy the benefits of those programs, and employers are frustrated. What’s a company to do?

To be fair, we can’t expect everyone to want to exercise. Employers should have realistic expectations about how many people they can draw into these offerings. If you’re looking for ways to tip the scales that make a work-sponsored group fitness class look a little more attractive to your workforce, consider the idea of compensated workout time. Here’s why this is worth your attention:

  • It’s no secret that time, or lack of it, is a primary barrier for your employees participating in regular physical activity. Couple the lack of time with the idea that your employees spend about nine hours per day at the office, and you have yourself a significant potential audience.
  • However, if the workplace culture or departmental mantra is about working harder, producing more, and keeping butts in the seats, then the convenience of a workplace fitness option is a moot point.
  • Alternatively, if we can pay them for 45 minutes of working out three days per week, now we might be onto something that sends a true message about how important the employer feels it is for employees to make healthy choices. And before you read this and exclaim, “We already do that…it’s called a lunch break,” what I’m advocating is 45 minutes beyond the lunch break. For an employee making $25/hour who works out, walks, or takes a group exercise class three days per week during this compensated time, it costs the company about $2,800 a year ($25/hr x 75% of an hour x 3d/wk x 50wk/yr).

Maybe you can’t afford compensated exercise time for your employees. But before you discount it outright, do what my mom always encourages me to do with a big decision. Make a pro/con list. Consider all the health benefits of engaging in regular physical activity compared to the lost work time on your bottom line. Weigh the positive of increased employee loyalty and creativity against the straight dollar cost. Understand the value of really supporting your employees’ quest for better health versus only paying it lip service. If the tick marks in your pro column outweigh those in the con column, you just might have your answer.

Need tips to get your employees moving more?  Download our whitepaper to help you get started with adding exercise to your worksite wellness program.

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Topics: exercise at work employee health group exercise corporate fitness motivation incentives workouts

When It Pays to Be a Chicken in Workplace Wellness

Melanie.jpgBeing a chicken is definitely frowned upon. If someone is known for being scared to take on a task or fails to address a situation because it’s too much of a challenge, chances are they have been labeled.

But what if you dressed like a chicken? It does take a bit of bravery, but it can help your mission by making a memorable statement.

We have an annual event for National Walk at Lunch Day, where employees are encouraged to walk outside over their lunch hour. This is also a kickoff event for our Fitness Challenge: a 10-week challenge for employees to stay consistently active and log their activity online in efforts to beat out other states doing the same. National Walk at Lunch Day happens around springtime when many people are stuck in their winter routine of being indoors—be that an indoor workout or, sadly, in most cases, an indoor sitting marathon.

Enter the Chicken Costume

As employees made their way outside, I strutted around greeting people with exclamations of “Bak, Bak, Bak!” and my versions of the chicken dance.

It’s a fun adventure to catch people off guard. Costumes often make that happen because they are unexpected. And you know you’ve done your job when you get smiles in return or people shaking their heads in surprise.

Of course bottled water, fruit, trail mix, and sandwiches helped our cause at the event, but the chicken-themed messages were just beginning because the Fitness Challenge was only Day One. Over the next 10 weeks, our motto was “Don’t Chicken Out.” We encouraged people to join the fitness challenge through email blasts with subject lines laced with chicken references or cartoon or movie quotes from Chicken Little, Chicken Run, or Looney Tunes’ Foghorn Leghorn. Just a few:

  • We Are Chicky for the Challenge!
  • Chick It Out! We’re in First Place!
  • I’m Chicken’ on You! Don’t Slack Off!
  • We Are Down to the “Chicken” Wire. This Competition Is Close!
  • Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? To finish the Fitness Challenge.

What I Learned

By the end of the challenge, I had learned several things:

  • People were responsive to the program because they enjoyed the humor.
  • The theme allowed for more creative ways to communicate than standard, monotonous program updates.
  • Employees anticipated the next email, instead of dreading or deleting it without reading it.
  • I was asked to “speak” at department meetings in costume, advertising the program and encouraging participation. Most just wanted to see a chicken, but it opened doors to promote the challenge.
  • Sometimes during the challenge, I wanted to email-yell or nag employees to get a move on, but funneling that competitiveness into catchy, humorous characters and slogans was more effective at getting people’s attention—and their increased participation in the activity.
  • I was able to enjoy sending out communications and I loved the responses I received from those who were also entertained by them. I got a lot of “Thanks for the laugh. I needed that!” messages.

Bottom line: Being a chicken in your workplace isn’t always bad.

It can go a long way in giving employees the motivation to take action in corporate fitness. Just make sure you pick the right breed. Spring is right around the corner, how do you plan to engage employees to participate in activities such as Walk at Lunch Day, or Bike to Work Day?  Download our whitepaper: 5 tips for maximizing employee enagement below to find the best ways to get your employees involved in your wellness strategy!

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Topics: corporate fitness motivation participation workplace wellness

Why Group Fitness Belongs in Your Corporate Wellness Program

I’ve never been that into group fitness. I’m simply more of a solo exerciser. But starting my career managing corporate fitness centers, it became clear to me very quickly that my personal philosophy about where group classes fit into my routine was counter to a sizable minority of members in the facilities I supported.

There is something about that group dynamic that works for participants. Whether it’s the energy of others, the instructor who tells you what to do, or the music that moves your feet, something draws participants in and keeps them coming back.


Mixed Adherence and Retention Results

Researchers have long been studying variables that can influence exercise adherence; and to date, outcomes from various studies have been in conflict. For example, the S.W.E.A.T. study on women ages 40 to 65 showed that group-based exercise in a “center” setting compared with home-based individual exercise netted better retention. But other research indicates that home-based interventions demonstrated better adherence over time.

We do know that positive social support from both staff and peers directly in the exercise setting is important, and group classes provide a built-in social network. Also, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) polled gym members for their primary areas of participation and found that about 43% of gym members participate in group exercise.

NIFS Poll Shows Benefits of Group Fitness Classes

Anecdotally, I know of several individuals who have been able to dramatically improve their health primarily through group classes. So when we polled our NIFS corporate group fitness class participants about their experiences with our classes, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the results.

We polled all employees at our client locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we’re offering group fitness classes. In some cases, we’re providing only classes at a location, whereas in other locations we’re managing the corporate fitness center along with providing classes. Here’s what we learned:

  • Just over one-third of responders indicated that NIFS group fitness classes were their primary source of exercise through the week.
  • Almost 80% indicated that they exercise more often because of the group fitness classes available at their office.
  • Roughly three quarters of responders noted personal health improvements since they started taking group classes with NIFS instructors.
  • A full 96% indicated that the classes at their worksite were a definite employee perk.

The numbers tell us that group fitness is still a fantastic way for employers to create exercise opportunities for their employees. It’s a low-cost (or no-cost if employees pay) option that doesn’t require much equipment or space, and it can net positive health outcomes for employees. It just may earn you loyalty points as well.

If you’re sold on the idea of adding group exercise classes to your corporate wellness offerings but aren’t sure where to start, check out this blog and our quick read: 3 keys to adding group fitness at work.

Topics: group exercise corporate fitness motivation NIFS corporate fitness managment data

Try Positive Resolutions for the New Year

Do you find the typical New Year’s resolutions depressing? Start off 2015 with a new type of resolution. Instead of eliminating the things in your life that you love, try developing a list of new adventures or activities to experience this year. Brainstorm a variety of activities, events, recipes, or exercises that you find interesting or worthwhile and stick to it.

Take the time this year to really try something new for yourself and no one else. With each new experience, keep in mind the purpose and outcome you hope to achieve. Be confident and open-minded, and aware of your response in each situation. Keep track of your experiences, and who knows: something new this year may become part of your daily routine.

8 New Things to Try

something_newHere are some ideas to consider for the New Year:

  • Attend a new group fitness class.
  • Participate in a partner training session with a friend.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Walk a different route than your everyday commute to the office.
  • Prepare a recipe using fresh ingredients.
  • Attempt a new hobby, such as running, swimming, sewing, or biking.
  • Prepare a budget for the new year.
  • Learn a new sport.

By diving in and trying new things, you are taking it upon yourself to develop a more self-centered lifestyle. So many times we rely on others’ descriptions or evaluations of something instead of trying it for ourselves. With a new type of resolution, one that helps reinforce a healthy lifestyle, you can move forward during the New Year without regrets. Focusing on different activities and facing different challenges than what you may be used to will add variety to your days.

Tips for Achieving Your Goals

Remember these helpful tips when working toward your goals:

Try to develop simple, one-step tasks and take pride in each item you mark off your list in 2015. Choose tasks that are positive and promote overall health, rather than creating restrictive goals or limitations. Keep a running tally of your accomplishments and hold yourself accountable for each item on the list. Feel free to continue adding new events throughout the year based on successful or satisfying experiences.

Whether you are pledging to be healthier, happier, skinnier, less stressed, or more active, these tips can help. Don’t think about each task for hours on end, “just do it!” and move on (here are tips for finding motivation when you need it). If it is something you enjoy, evaluate it and go back for more. The main goal of this practice is to find new and fun activities that bring a sense of satisfaction to your life. You never know if you will like something until you try. The power that comes from accomplishing a goal only helps to reinforce one’s ability to keep moving forward. Keep that in mind, and work toward a healthier, happier future this New Year!

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Topics: Be inspired motivation goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action resolutions

NIFS Member Speaks: Aziza Hunt shares her Motivation

my storyAziza joined the Wellness Center when she started her employment in September.  In three months she referred four new members to our Corporate Wellness Center and she says she is working on more. I am thrilled to have her as ambassador member of the Wellness Center and also admire her ability to motivate herself and her associates to get more active.  Here is her story and hopefully she’ll get you motivated to get moving too.

I come to the Wellness Center two times per day and right now my motivation is weight loss. When joined Weight Watchers® I realized how important activity was for my goal. Plus the gym is free, so there are NO EXCUSES.” My friends and associates who frequently join me in the Wellness Center are doing Weight Watchers® too. To help motivate them I try to let my actions be an example of my dedication to be fit and healthy.  As I tell my friends, “we work in a company that is about wellness, and we have so many resources that we didn’t have before coming to WellPoint so why not take advantage of them?” I also tell them, something is better than nothing.

My motivation to get active started when I joined a kickball team in the fall. I loved playing but I hated the feeling of being out of breath. I knew something had to give. While the team was on a break during the winter I wanted to improve my endurance but I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight.  I have a goal I want to accomplish by March (kickball time) and nothing and no one is going to stop me.  My plan is to stay active, stick to Weight Watchers®, and drink more water while also cutting back on sweets, junk, and “the white stuff”.

Aziza also admits to having bad days like the rest of us and I think she has a wonderfulA.Hunt attitude about these days.  Here is what she says about her off days, “I am human, and I know that I will have my “off days” but you just forgive yourself and pick back up. When I get weighed in each week with Weight Watchers®, my number on the scale that day either makes me work harder or lets me know I am on the right track. I have come too far and refuse to let the scale go backwards. I am too determined and have worked too hard.”

It sounds like Aziza has put a lot of thought into what she wants to accomplish and uses this to maintain her motivation.  Need motivation like Aziza?  Ask yourself exactly why you want to accomplish and determine exactly what actions must be taken to get there.  Start with the smallest action to get going. 

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

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Topics: exercise nifs fitness management motivation member testimonials weight watchers

Top 6 Reasons to Join Your Corporate Fitness Center

group fitnessNeed a convenient, cost-effective way to get in shape and get healthy?

Many corporations have gotten on board with the idea of an onsite fitness center and have been reaping the benefits of healthier, happier employees. If your worksite has an onsite fitness center, consider the following reasons why you should join.

1. Price

Corporate fitness centers are usually much less expensive than commercial gyms (or even free!). Who doesn’t want to save some extra cash?

2. Convenience

Think you don’t have time to exercise? When you use your onsite fitness center, you can get in a workout any time of day, between meetings, before or after work, during lunch…the excuse of “I have no time” is truly taken away from you. Also, many corporate fitness centers are open 24/7.

3. Motivation

Many corporate fitness centers offer incentives and fun programs throughout the year to help keep you motivated.

4. Group Fitness Classes

Onsite group fitness classes aren’t only convenient, but are usually offered at a cost that is competitive to group fitness classes offered at your local gym, or even FREE! Classes are also an amazing way to meet new people and develop some great friendships at work.

5. Mental Health

Exercise has been proven to help relieve stress and inspire positive moods. If you ever have a stressful day or an extra long meeting, come down to your fitness center for a few minutes of stretching or a walk on the treadmill to let yourself relax before tackling your next project.

6. Environment

Generally, corporate fitness centers have considerably fewer members than a commercial gym. This way, you won’t have to fight for machines or space.

No more excuses! Try out the most convenient fitness center available to you, the one at your workplace!

NIFS Corporate  Fitness Services

Topics: exercise at work motivation corporate fitness centers employee health and fitness brain health

Confessions of a Health Coach: A Recovering Perfectionist

peasI am a recovering perfectionist. It’s an ongoing struggle, but every day I get more comfortable with not being the best at everything. And every day, I feel a little happier because of this attitude. Here are my thoughts as to why.

From an early age, we are taught that 100 percent is the best. Those three numbers represent the perfect indication of success. We are encouraged to give 100 percent of our efforts and to be the best we can possibly be. Some people (myself included) misconstrue this message to  mean anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable.

All-or-Nothing Thinking Can Derail Your Health

As a wellness coach, I often see clients mirror these perfectionist tendencies. For example, some may think their diet is ruined because they ate a donut for breakfast and therefore make poor eating choices for their other meals. Others feel it is pointless to lace up their running shoes unless they have time for a 5-mile run, and stay in and watch TV instead of going for a 2-mile run.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists call this type of thinking an all-or-nothing cognitive distortion. It’s an unhealthy perspective for one simple reason: No one achieves 100 percent of their goals 100 percent of the time. No one.

For perfectionists who struggle to make healthy lifestyle choices (whether it be avoiding the vending machine at work or exercising a certain number of times per week), not achieving 100 percent of a goal can be discouraging, if not downright depressing. This is unfortunate because many people fail to give themselves credit for the healthy choices they do make.

The 65–85 Rule as It Applies to Fitness

My road to recovering from my all-or-nothing thinking patterns began with a simple rule:

          Aim to be successful 65 to 85 percent of the time.

I can just imagine the looks of disbelief from my fellow perfectionists. Give me a moment to explain why the 65–85 percent successful rule is such a beautiful thing.

  • It takes away the pressure. True perfectionists understand the crushing pressure of attempting to achieve that 100 percent mark all the time. Eliminating that pressure can actually make working toward the goal enjoyable.
  • It allows for life to happen. Kids get sick. You become injured. We must overcome any number of hurdles on a daily basis to eat healthy and exercise. Unfortunately, some hurdles are bigger and longer, and require more time and effort to overcome. By aiming to be 65–85% successful, you have a built-in cushion to accommodate life’s curve balls.
  • It is a good indication your goal is not too easy or not too hard. If you are 65–85 percent successful at your goal, I believe this means your goal is challenging enough to promote healthy behavior changes without being too difficult.

Personally, I believe adopting this 65–85 percent attitude has been one of best decisions of my life. I don’t beat myself up if I occasionally eat too much chocolate because I know I eat pretty darn healthy most of the time. If I only have time to run 3 miles instead of 6 because I feel unusually tired, I congratulate myself for getting out the door in the first place.

I’ve found that I’ve actually become healthier (and most importantly, happier) by letting go of my perfectionist thinking. I hope reading my thoughts will persuade you to try to do the same!

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Topics: motivation fitness diet and nutrition perfectionism cognitive distortion

5 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

setting smart goals resized 600First and foremost, let’s make some things clear about resolutions. When you make a resolution, you have to remember that it is not just a commitment for January 1; it is for 365 days. Make sure from the beginning it is something that is a long-term goal and a change you want to see. If it is something you have repeatedly tried to do each year, it may be time to reevaluate and come up with a different strategy this year. Otherwise, you will set yourself up to fail.

Don’t be the object of the new year’s resolution jokes. Come into the new year with the mindset that resolutions are achievable if you set yourself up for success. Here are some ways that you can do this.

Make Your Resolutions SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound:

  • Specific: Make resolutions clear, concise, and well-defined.
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a way to measure your progress and success. Goals should have time frames, dates, amounts, and other quantifiable numbers.
  • Attainable/realistic: Your goal should be something that is manageable, and something you believe you can succeed in reaching.
  • Time bound: Have a starting point and an end point. Resolutions that will take place over the entire year should be broken down into short-term and longer-term goals.

Choose the Right Resolutions

If you decide to do something, it has to be something that you want to do. Pick something that has meaning behind it for you personally. Oftentimes resolutions come from outside sources and pressures. If the idea originates with you, you’re more likely to commit.

Stick Your Resolutions with Existing Habits

The easier you make the habit, the more likely you are to stick to it. If your resolution is to take a vitamin every day, put the vitamin container next to your toothbrush that you use each morning. Make the new habit part of an existing one.

Give Yourself a Trial Run

Try your resolution for at least 21 days (it takes at least this long to create a habit). Give yourself these days as a trial period. This will give you some room to make mistakes and tweak your goal to make it more realistic.

Measure Your Progress

Many of us get frustrated and give up on resolutions because we have tunnel vision to the end result, which may take all 365 days to achieve. If your resolutions and goals are smart, it should be easy to track the progress you are making, which will help keep you motivated. 

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Topics: motivation behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action

Putting Ourselves in Our Corporate Wellness Clients’ Shoes

personal trainerHave you heard this interesting story  regarding personal trainer Drew Manning?  Manning was what his wife called a “judgmental trainer,” and he admits that he would look at his overweight, struggling clients and think that they must choose to be lazy. Surely if they cared about their health enough, they would just make changes instead of blaming their genetics or other factors, Manning thought.

Trainer Finds Drastic Way to Learn Empathy

So, to put himself in his clients’ shoes, he took it upon himself to gain 70 pounds by foregoing his workouts and eating a new diet of junk food. What he found out is that beyond the physical effects of weight gain, he was a different person mentally and emotionally as well. He became self-conscious, insecure, and lethargic. Next, he quickly returned to his former fit self, dropping the 70 pounds and regaining the muscular build. But he now has a heightened sense of empathy for his clients.

As corporate wellness professionals, are we finding empathy with our clients? It’s true that making healthy choices is exactly that—a choice that only an individual can make. But, are we understanding of the many factors at play in our clients’ lives and aware of possible feelings of guilt or embarrassment when they carry extra weight or lack the strength to perform certain exercises?

Be Mindful of Clients’ Emotional Factors

I would never suggest that we pull a risky stunt of gaining and losing large amounts of weight like Manning did. However, we can make it our job to use patience, reflective listening, and a nonjudgmental attitude to be more understanding of how our clients are feeling mentally, not just physically.

Topics: corporate wellness motivation corporate fitness centers obesity personal trainers guilt