Bethany Garrity, on Mon, Feb 22, 2016
Let’s face it, personal trainers are pretty ubiquitous these days, and it’s easy to understand why. The industry doesn’t have licensure (yet), and there are a lot of inexpensive and easy-to-obtain “personal trainer” certifications available that allow fitness enthusiasts with little knowledge about how the body works to earn a distinction as a personal trainer.
The scary truth about hiring a personal trainer for your senior living community is that the typical consumer doesn’t necessarily know what to look for in a qualified fitness professional. Unfortunately, the I-paid-them-and-they-certified-me individual looks equally competent alongside the individual who has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and who has earned and painstakingly maintains an industry gold-standard certification.
While hiring an exercise professional for your senior living community fitness program is a very buyer-beware proposition, the rewards for making the right staffing choice can be great.
This is really what it’s all about, right? You want a passionate, capable, competent, self-starter running the exercise program in the community. You need someone who will
This is a tough one. Community leadership seems to have a difficult time making the leap from status-quo group fitness classes and the occasional trainer to establishing a manager for a robust fitness program. Maybe that’s consumer driven, and today’s residents, for the most part, aren’t balking at the outdated model. Maybe the lack of change is rooted in where fitness falls on the priority list.
Yet, with the right fitness center manager on board, you can free up your activities director to actually create person- and purpose-centered activities instead of tracking down a substitute for the group fitness instructor who just bailed on a class. You also send a distinct message to prospects and current residents that healthy living is central to who you are. And because so many communities are still operating on the outdated “group fitness + occasional trainer” model, you clearly distinguish your senior living community from the competition.
If you’re ready to start tapping into these benefits, you can either hire your own fitness center manager for the community, or partner with an organization like ours (NIFS fitness center management) to start improving the fitness program for your residents.
Bethany Garrity, on Mon, Apr 28, 2014
Raise your hand if you love hearing stories about how your staff make a resident’s day, particularly when it occurs organically, if you will, by the employee simply being who she is. I know…me too. That’s why I couldn’t resist sharing these two stories in our blog and how we engage residents in senior living fitness programs.
Our organizational structure is such that we hire exceptionally capable, qualified, and passionate staff who we train well. When they’re ready, we set them off at their client location to do their work. Certainly, we provide a host of supports, ongoing training, and other touch points, but it’s tough for me to keep track of their day to day challenges and victories when they are far flung in 22 states with more than 60 clients. So when these two stories got back to me, I simply had to give this shout out!
When we first start working with a new senior living client and we place one of our fitness center managers onsite at the community, we sometimes get pushback from a small group of vocal residents about the information we require of them prior to helping them with an exercise program. Industry standards through the American College of Sports Medicine establish that sound practice involves gathering relevant health information, securing a signed waiver, and getting a medical release where appropriate. If we get push back from residents, it’s typically with the waiver and a common objection to the industry standard language we use.
This story comes from that exact circumstance where a small group of residents had protested our use of a release for the fitness program. While we were in discussion with leadership at the community about NIFS practices, and how the community wanted to proceed, our manager, Ali, continued to do what she does.
She worked with the early adopters providing senior fitness testing, individualized exercise programs and guidance, and continued to follow up with those participants about their progress and any questions they have. She offered creative group exercise classes and continued to enroll residents in those programs. She focused in on improving resident’s balance through both class and 1:1 settings, and she continued to help participants track their progress as their strength and balance improved.
Meanwhile, the residents did what residents do. They talked to their friends and neighbors. Those who were engaged in the new fitness programming with the NIFS fitness center manager talked about how much better they felt, how they could tell their balance was improving, and how easy the manager was to work with.
And then those initial naysayers started thinking that they might be missing out on something really positive going on in the community. So, within a few weeks of raising strong objections to our paperwork, those most vocal opponents put aside their concerns, completed the paperwork, and started receiving the same positive health benefits that their friends and neighbors had been experiencing. We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve more residents in the community, and I’m completely tickled that it all came about simply because the NIFS manager kept doing what she’s amazing at with those who were ready.
The second story is one of those “well, duh” moments. The action our staff member took in response to a resident need is truly a no-brainer. But I say that and I know that I may not have arrived at that simple action which has definitely resulted in improved quality of life for that individual. Rachel made this resident’s day simply by being who she is – a creative problem solver who is passionate about helping the residents enjoy very active living.
When Rachel learned that one of their formerly regular participants stopped exercising, she wanted to get to the bottom of it. Turns out, the resident was unable to use the check in scanner because of a low vision condition, so she simply stopped attending group exercise classes. After Rachel learned about the barrier, she worked with the resident to place a small piece of adhesive felt to the membership tag and taught the resident how to orient the felt in front of the scanner for a successful check in. That resident was able to feel her way to a successful fitness center check in and removing that barrier was enough to pull her back into group exercise classes twice each (and every) week.
I suspect you have your own ‘feel good’ stories like this – share them in the comments below to help spread the love!