Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

NIFS | Corporate Fitness ClassNIFS isn't the only agency that provides fitness management expertise to businesses. There are several like us because the market demands it. While many organizations have adopted a DIY attitude about managing their own fitness programs, an additional (and substantial) set of businesses has recognized the value in outsourcing fitness center management for their corporate fitness center or in their senior living community.

We’ve been at this for almost 25 years and I’ve heard a variety of objections to outsourcing fitness staff. I’ve got my own list of objections to those objections...so here we go:

Objection 1: Outsourcing fitness center management is too expensive.

This objection really comes down to a comparison of direct versus indirect employee costs. Working with a partner may be more expensive when you compare wages and benefits you pay your employee with the billing you would get from a partner. The fitness management organization has overhead and a margin they need to earn.

When you look at the cost to hire, train, and supervise an employee, your cost comparison starts to even out. Then throw in the consideration of ongoing training and supervision, potential turnover, and statutory costs related to employees, you may find that partnering with a staffing agency like NIFS provides significant value.

Objection 2: I have no control over the staff person.

I don’t know who you’ve worked with historically, but any organization in this business that doesn’t put service first and foremost is making a gigantic mistake. When you’re working with the right outsourcing partner, that organization should be keenly interested in keeping you, the client, happy. To that end, they should be very interested in your feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the staff they’re providing at your location.

Objection 3: An outsourced staff person won’t have buy-in from our constituents.

For starters, see objection #2. Keep in mind that the only way a staffing agency stays in business is if they have learned to be nimble and highly adaptive to a variety of environments. You can check on a potential outsourcing partner’s flexibility by talking to a variety of references.

When we go to work in senior living settings, we often pair up staffing services with wellness consulting (at no additional cost) so that we can better support the organization and further understand the culture with that client. This understanding is communicated to our staff on the ground so that we’re all operating from the same educated starting point.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Objection 4: Fitness isn’t rocket science; we’ve got this.

Okay. You’re right. Fitness isn’t rocket science, and you may very well “have it.” There are a host of highly capable, service-minded, passionate health and fitness professionals out there who are ready to work directly for you. But who has their back?

Who provides them with fresh ideas, resources, direction, and support? Your human resources director? Your activities director? Not likely—unless you’ve somehow hit a gold mine of fitness-educated staff at your business, the fitness manager you employ is probably the only one of his or her kind in your four walls. Outsourcing partners (the best ones, anyway) bring a team of resources, professionals, expertise, and support to the staff member they provide your organization.

Maybe you have other objections I can address. If so, leave them in the comments below. On the other hand, if I’ve just addressed your objections and you’re ready to start looking at outsourcing partners, drop me a line, or take a closer look at us through the rest of our blog. If your business has to move through an RFP process, you might want to read what I wrote on my top 10 RFP questions for corporate fitness management.

CORPORATE FITNESS STAFFING ›SENIOR LIVING FITNESS STAFFING ›

 

Topics: worksite wellness nifs fitness management NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment employee health and fitness corporate wellness staffing wellness consulting outsourcing fitness managment

Senior Living: Questions to Ask Before Buying Fitness Equipment


ThinkstockPhotos-97770391-1.jpgThere are a lot of news releases lately outlining new construction or expansion projects in senior living. Many of those projects include outfitting a brand new or dramatically overhauled community fitness center.

Because the construction projects are typically significant and encompass more space than just a fitness center, it’s easy to get lost in the details about treadmill features when you need to answer questions about flooring, HVAC demands, city permits, and more. And even within the four walls of the senior fitness center, there are several other things to be concerned about beyond simply selecting the equipment. For more on that, check out our blog on 5 things to avoid when building a fitness center for senior living communities.

In order to help you head off potential dilemmas specifically around what exercise equipment might be best for your resident fitness center, this blog outlines some of the key questions to ask before buying fitness equipment. These aren’t meant to be comprehensive, but they should provide a solid starting point to get to the bottom of determining what’s best for your residents. As you’re working with the reps, make sure you’re clear about the age and ability level of your intended user. The same is true if you want to send out residents to test equipment at a local gym (sales reps may offer this). Make sure you send residents who are a good representation of those you expect will use your updated fitness amenities.

And one last note before you dive into the questions. We do not sell any exercise equipment, nor do we receive any benefit from equipment manufacturers. These questions are based purely on our years of experience helping clients design and equip their fitness centers for a range of audiences.

Strength Equipment

It comes in a lot of shapes and sizes.

  • Pneumatic: An air compressor regulates the amount of pressure against which the user works.
  • Selectorized: Plate adjusted, with the user pulling out and reinserting a pin for the desired weight.
  • Band technology: Weights are replaced with bands used as pulleys to generate resistance.
  • Body resistance: The user works against his or her own body weight (and gravity) to generate a workload.

When it comes to thinking through questions for your sales reps, consider these:

  • How is the resistance adjusted by the user?
  • What is the starting weight for each piece and can that be lowered in our order if our population needs that?
  • Are the seat heights, leg positions, seat backs, etc. adjustable per user? If so, how are they adjusted?
  • Is there any other equipment I need to purchase to make your equipment fully functional for us? (Some equipment requires a computer, other equipment requires a compressor, etc.).
  • What is the warranty on the equipment?
  • (When the equipment comes with a software component…) Do you provide training to our onsite staff to learn how to make the best use of your software? Do you offer technical support?

Cardiovascular Equipment

In general, your fitness facility should have a range of cardiovascular equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent cross-trainers (think NuStep or a similar product), and bikes. In some cases, we’ve seen rowing machines included, too. (They provide a great workout; we’re just not sure it’s an ideal piece for most residents.)

Some basic questions are true for each type of cardiovascular equipment:

  • What’s the warranty?
  • Who is the warranty-certified repair company in our area?
  • What are the power needs for this piece?
  • Can I see the detailed screen of the computer console? (You’ll want to see how user-friendly it is for your audience.)
  • Does it connect with any wearable technology, or can we opt for an interactive console?
  • If we don’t elect an interactive console now, can we change them out later?

Treadmills

  • What’s the step height on your treadmills?
  • What’s the starting speed?
  • Does the unit decline or only incline?

Ellipticals

  • Is the piece rear- or side-entry?
  • What is the clearance threshold or step height to access the piece?
  • Does it come with stationary arms?
  • Does the elliptical require external power? If not, (1) ask what the starting wattage requirement is, and (2) ask if there is an optional AC adapter. If no adapter is available, note that we’ve found anything requiring a starting wattage higher than about 15W is too difficult for many residents to power.

Bikes

You’ll want to consider traditional upright bikes and recumbent bikes. Matrix offers a hybrid bike that presents an interesting option as well.

  • Do you have an upright bike with a pass-through design?
  • Does the bike require external power? If not, (1) ask what the starting wattage requirement is, and (2) ask if there is an optional AC adapter. If no adapter is available, note that we’ve found anything requiring a starting wattage higher than about 15W is too difficult for many residents to power.

General Questions

These are general questions to ask any vendor regardless of the type of equipment you’re considering buying.

  • What’s the primary market your company serves? (Ask for clarity in sales volume.)
  • Can I talk to a practitioner who has used your equipment with an 85+-year-old population?

This last round of questions has nothing to do with the function of the equipment for the residents. It’s really focused on details for your overall fitness program and the role the equipment plays in your fitness center, which should be a hallmark space in the community.

  • Can I customize colors on frame and upholstery (for strength equipment) to match our brand?
  • Are you able/willing to customize your equipment with our logo?

You’re making a significant investment by building a new fitness center or overhauling your current community fitness space. Make sure you get the right equipment to increase the chances for a vibrant and successful fitness program that will support this generation of residents and the next. These questions will help guide and inform your decisions, but if you want additional support from a partner who does this for a living, click on the button below to learn more about how we can consult for you.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

 

Topics: nifs fitness management CCRC fitness center resident wellness programs fitness center for seniors

NIFS: How to face your fears

face your fearsMy earliest memory of my biggest fear was around age seven or eight. I was playing in my backyard with my childhood best friend on the swing set. We were running around it trying to catch each other when I slipped and fell, cutting my arm. I didn’t even realize I was bleeding until my friend pointed it out to me. Immediately my heart started to race, palms began to sweat, and I quickly lost all the color in my face. The next thing I remember is my Mom and friend standing over me as I lay on the ground after passing out. Every encounter with blood after this episode only amplified this fear, often resulting in avoiding certain situations such as routine blood draws or even jobs that required me to be able to perform a finger stick cholesterol test to fitness center members. Finally, after living with this fear for over twenty years, I finally made up my mind that it was time to face it. What is the one big fear you have in your life? Are you ready to face it? 

4 Tips to Facing Your Fears

1. Start small: Break down your fear and anxiety into smaller, more manageable pieces. I even listed the out in order from 1-10. (10 giving you the highest amount of anxiety and 1 just a small amount) Slowly work your way up the list as your anxiety reduces overtime.

2. Celebrate small victories: Are you afraid of heights and climbed a high amount of stairs, reaching a high elevation? Celebrate that! Have you wanted to take a group fitness class and finally worked up the courage to try one? Way to go! These small victories overtime will help you conquer your fear.

3. Ask for help: When I knew I wanted to overcome my fear, I asked for professional help. I know there are plenty of physiatrists that specialize in overcoming fear and anxiety. There are lots of resources online or by checking with your primary care physician.

4. Take action: Whether you are afraid of heights, spiders, or needles, you must physically face this fear. I overcame my fear of needles and blood with a standard blood draw. I may have looked like the man below, but I did it!  (And didn’t pass out!) 

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Topics: employee health worksite wellness nifs fitness management

NIFS: Top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie consumption

woman eating healthy resized 600We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, right? We hear it all the time that fruits and vegetables lower the chance of certain cancers, eating your spinach will prevent cataracts, eating fruits leads to longer life and beet juice lowers blood pressure. We also know that fruits and vegetables add color and texture to our dinner plate, they are low in calories and provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for our body. So, if something is good for us, why don’t we embrace it and take it all in? Well, it is not as easy as it sounds. For many, it may be the taste factor and immediate satisfaction of good tasting food, overrides thoughts of long-term health. Were you forced to eat your vegetables when you were younger? Possibly the half eaten peas and carrots that were in your mouth became the new center piece at the dinner table? Bad experiences tend to keep us away from trying it again. So, what are the top 3 reasons to increase fruit and veggie intake? Why would I want to give these foods another try?

1) Fruits and vegetables provide benefits for my overall health.  This requires a change of thinking to actually believe that it will provide long-term health benefits, so the eating choices I make today will affect me in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Research has spoken and the results have been proven that fruits and veggies are good for us.

2) Maintaining at least half my plate with fruits and vegetables with protein and some small amounts of grains, provide steady blood glucose levels. I do not experience the high spikes of blood sugar that can be caused by eating a lot of foods that are on the high end of the glycemic index.  I feel better and have more energy by following this rule.

3) Eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less sugars and grains provide a healthy body weight. How much sugars and grains do you consume in a day? If you have been trying to lose weight and have had a hard time getting the weight off, you may want to look into what you are eating.

Whatever your experience was like, don’t give up on fruits and veggies. Give it another try. You may find that it is one of the best things you could do for your health. What are your reasons for eating more fruits and veggies? For ideas on how to incorporate fruits and veggies into your meals contact your fitness center staff.  

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: Food for Thought active aging nifs fitness management

Active Aging: Liven Up Your Olympics Programming (Part 2 of 2)

seniors swimmingIn part I of this blog series, we discussed opportunities to develop a comprehensive Olympics-themed program that would create a more memorable experience for participants as well as opportunities to attract more resident interest in the events. In the second part of this blog, we will explore a variety of events that you can consider folding into your Olympics to compliment the recreational activities your residents already know and love or to take a different path all-together.

Part II: Freshen up your Olympic events

Weekly recreational offerings with a strong resident following might seem like low-hanging fruit when it comes to spinning off an event for an Olympics-themed program. However, creating a flyer with your own Olympics logo and inviting these participants to a “special” tournament one afternoon can be less than inspiring for residents.  Read on to broaden your horizons on additional events you can pull into your next Olympics adventure.   

Recreational Activities & Games:

You’ve probably considered croquet, putting contests, corn hole, shuffleboard, bocce ball, ping pong, water volleyball, billiards, etc., but have you considered adapting your own versions of the following?

  • Frisbee Discuss: Play it indoors or outdoors and mark targets at varying distances. You can use hoola hoops or simply use tape to mark off the targets. You can designate varying point values for the different distances or recognize participants by the number of Frisbees that hit inside or on the target.
  • Water Balloon Shotput: Teach your residents how Olympians throw a shot put (without or without the spinning in a circle…OK, probably without the spinning) but use a water balloon! Measure the splash marks and who can shotput the water balloon the furthest distance.
  • Wii: Many residents are already familiar with Wii bowling and golf, but consider purchasing the Wii Fit if you don’t have one and allow your residents to hone their skills on downhill skiing. Wii also has games for archery, hunting & target practice, and many other options that might appeal to your residents.
  • Synchronized Swimming: Planned well in advance of your Olympics, you can have small groups of 3-4 residents compete against one another in synchronized routines they develop or have one large group of residents work together to put on a spectator sport for the entire senior living community. Perhaps you could host your Opening Ceremonies in your pool area to increase exposure of this wonderful amenity your community has to offer!

Brain Fitness:

You’re Olympic events don’t necessarily have to be recreation or fitness related. Finding other ways for residents to compete can be a great way to attract more individuals to participate.

  • Scavenger Hunt: Take pictures of random artwork and landmarks inside and outside at your community and provide these snapshots to participants. They will embark on a scavenger hunt trying to recall where they’ve seen these different items throughout the community and will visit each location. You can make it a timed event for the top three finishers or do recognition awards for everyone who makes it through.
  • Brain Trivia: Host a Jeopardy or other trivia type event for residents to promote intellectual wellness as part of your Olympics. For a large turnout, you can have multiple games going on at different tables simultaneously, or you can have residents work as teams for the answers.

Let your creative juices flow in developing a comprehensive and fresh approach to your next community Olympics!  If you like what we have shared, check out our Best Practice Series featuring 11 of our Best Practices we have implemented in active aging communities!

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Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior living active living senior living community nifs best practices

NIFS: Encourage bike to work week for employee health

man biking to workIt’s MAY, birds are chirping the sun is out and oh yea watch for blinky lights and reflective leg bands, bike season has started! While some dread sharing the road with the two wheeled, foot powering transportation others love this chance to take advantage of the trails and bike lanes in your city. Well the truth is you SHOULD! Step outside of your normal comfort zone and bike to the store or run other errands while getting some exercise in!

Getting back on your bike can be a great way to involve the family, get involved with a new community and a little extra physical activity into your day! Great benefits of biking or commuting by bike include:

  • low impact exercise
  • creates a low environmental impact
  • it’s the most energy efficient type of transportation
  • reduces stress and travel stressors
  • saves money and so much more

Conduct an ABC Quick Check before each ride:

  • Air: Check the air in your tires. They should be inflated to the maximum rated PSI, you can find this number on the side of your tires. They should be inflated to the firmness of a basketball if you don’t have a pressure gauge.
  • Brakes: Brakes should be in working order if they stop the back when pushed forward or backwards. Brakes should be in working order if they stop wheels when pulled.
  • Chain: Chain should move freely, lightly oiled and rust-free. 

May 12-16 is Bike to work week this supports all levels of bikers to take advantage of active transportation. Here is a great website to get tips and tricks on biking to work or everyday biking. Check into other employee benefits at your work such as a bike commuter reimbursement.

How is your company promoting worksite wellness for employees?  Our staff offer great programs to encourage employees to get healthy.  Opt in to our Best Practice Series to receive 11 of our Best Practices implemented by our staff.

 

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Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program nifs fitness management employee health and fitness

NIFS: Exercise for Charity

smart phoneAre you looking to give back to the community or help others? Did you know that you could do this while exercising too? If you have a SmartPhone or access to the Internet, there are several free apps you can download or sign-up through. Each application has a different organization or fund that you have the option of helping! I researched and found the top rated opportunity, along with a few others I have heard great things about.

Charity Miles is a free app for the iPhone and Android. The smartphone application allows for you to earn corporate sponsorships for charity while walking, running, or biking. If you choose to walk or run, you will earn 25 cents per mile and 10 cents per mile while biking. There are 28 different charities to choose from and you can earn up to their initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool. Download the app, turn it on, choose a charity, your exercise, and press start. So easy!

WhoIRun4 is a non-profit organization that pairs a runner with one special needs child or adult. The purpose of this organization is to provide the runner with motivation while sharing who they are running 4 and bringing awareness to diseases and disabilities of all types. By visiting WhoIRun4 a runner can just sign up and find someone to be matched with. There are guidelines to this program, which can also be found on this website. Dedicate your workouts in a variety of ways such as making signs, t-shirts, or uploading pictures and tagging the individual or child’s parent on the organization’s Facebook group! Get creative and give your workout a whole new motivation!

The two organizations described above are my two favorites. Other popular opportunities include Erndit, Plus3Network, Upwave, and Charity Bets. Through these apps, you can log your activities and earn rewards to help your chosen charity. By visiting their links, you can learn more about the programs how you can sign-up to help.  

These opportunities are a great way to get inspired. Why not get healthy with friends or family?! You have the ability to set goals, work towards them, create a positive camaraderie, and have fun while doing it! The adrenaline rush one can get by exercising to help a charity is all the more motivation to work harder! If you are having trouble finding an activity to log, stop by the fitness center and pick up a group fitness schedule or ask about the fitness center incentive programs. They are a great way to meet new people and spread the word about one of these charitable opportunities! 

Comment and share your favorite apps for fitness.  Have you utilized one of these apps to raise money for a charity?

Topics: exercise nifs fitness management apps smart phone charity

NIFS: Lifting weights will make you bulky... MYTH

woman lifting weight resized 600To my knowledge, I don’t think there’s ever been a survey taken regarding this issue but personally, this is one of the most frustrating things to hear as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness manager, fitness specialist…fitness ANYTHING! So let me be clear right from the beginning. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky.

The origins of this myth may never truly be known but I think we can all agree that females (and males for that matter) generally associate lifting weights with big muscle-bound bodybuilders. Although this may be true for some, the majority of us (exercisers and non-exercisers alike) lift weights and will never look like big, bulky bodybuilders. I’d even go as far as to say that the “bulk-factor” only applies to approximately 10% of exercisers, which does not even include the non-exercisers which would bring that percentage down. There are quite a few reasons that support this theory. Here are a couple:

Time – This applies to a couple aspects of life. First of all, do you realize the amount of time these muscle-bound men are putting in at the gym? We’re talking two+ hours in the morning and two+ hours in the evening…at a minimum! Most likely they may be getting in an afternoon session as well. Possibly even a little cardio at some point in the day. And to be specific, each two+ hour session is most likely focused on one muscle (i.e. chest day, leg day, arm day, etc.). Chances are you are working out one hour per day at most and doing a full body workout. There is not a chance you will get bulky exercising in this fashion.

Diet – This is the second aspect of time consumption. The planning that goes into each and every meal throughout the day and throughout the week is staggering. 6 meals a day; no cheat meals; getting a well-balanced diet throughout each day (i.e. getting enough protein, natural vitamins, water, etc.); and staying on schedule with each meal and/or snack. This takes A LOT of time. But it’s for good reason. A great workout plan is not much without a clean diet. These big guys need enough nutrients for their muscles to grow. They cannot have little cheats here and there…a candy bar in the afternoon for a pick-me-up, an alcoholic beverage while relaxing with friends, any sort of pastry to eat while they drive b/c they are late for work. No. They are very strict with their clean diet. Can you honestly say you are that strict with yours?

As I previously stated, these are only a couple of the reasons you will NOT get bulky simply by lifting weights. Unless you are purposefully trying to get bulky and basing your lifestyle around it, you don’t stand a chance to do so. On a positive note though, lifting weights will definitely help you target those trouble spots you’ve been trying to get rid of…the back of the arm, your lower back, your thighs. The next time you give yourself a goal of losing 10lbs, I challenge you to accomplish this feat through lifting weights, not by jumping on a treadmill for 30 min. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  Connect with your corporate wellness staff to help you get started.  They can set you up with a plan to meet your goals.

 So get out there and start lifting to NOT get bulky!

Topics: corporate fitness nifs fitness management fitness weight lifting

Active Aging: Read for Brain Health

woman in library resized 600Often when we think or talk about having good health, it consists of eating healthy foods and exercising. There are many areas of our lives that we could improve upon health wise—often it seems like there is so much to work on to keep track. However, one segment of health that seems to go by the way side is mental health. Just as muscles lose strength or cardiovascular fitness declines with age, your brain can lose agility and decline in the way that it functions. There is no one way to prevent degenerative diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, but you can start today with the way you live your life to help make your brain healthier. Here are a few tips for great brain health:

  • Stay physically active – being active maintains good blood flow to the brain and can encourage new brain cells.
  • Adopt a brain-healthy diet – there has been research done that high cholesterol can contribute to brain cell damage and stroke. A healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol is desirable along with dark vegetables and fruits with antioxidants which can help protect brain cells.
  • Stay socially active – this can help reduce stress levels and maintain healthy connections among brain cells.
  • Stay mentally active – new nerve cells can be created by getting involved in mentally stimulating activities; this can also strengthen brain cells.

I want you to focus on the mental component of staying healthy and giving you ways improve your mind game. Try any of these easy ways to fit more mental activity into your daily routine:

  • Never stop learning! Maybe you wanted to take up doing a new hobby or even wanted venture out and do a new sport, commit to it and learn about your new adventure.
  • Take up writing and working on crossword puzzles to keep you mentally stimulated.
  • Enroll in a few college courses to keep mentally active in a structured way.
  • Play games with your friends and family.
  • Even try memory exercises or games that can help with your mind game!
  • Lastly, read books that are interesting to you. Who wants to read a boring book just to mark it off of your list? Head to the library and pick up a book for FREE!

Your public library is a great resource that is within your community; however some don’t take full advantage of it. First of all, it’s FREE; it’s easy to sign up for a library card; and there are so many books to interest anyone, you just have to do a little digging.

So check out your local library during National Library Week April 13-19 and read for excellent brain health!  Visit our facebook page and share what book you are currently reading!

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management brain health wellness mental health

NIFS Nutrition News: Intermittent Fasting

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Topics: nifs fitness management NIFS wellness health education