Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Evaluating Your Retirement Community Fitness Program

active seniorYou likely receive feedback from residents on how much they enjoy certain group fitness classes or instructors, or perhaps the NuStep in the fitness center. You hear it in passing comments like, “Don’t get rid of the yoga instructor,” or “We need another NuStep.” Those comments provide great feedback as part of your overall assessment of the fitness program. But beyond those individual preferences, how do you measure the true value of your community fitness program and what it lends to your resident population as well as to your community’s marketing potential?

Cater to the All Potential Participants

Your lifelong exercisers will likely find opportunities that they enjoy no matter how much or how little your community is able to offer. Positive feedback from these select participants doesn’t mean that your program is making the grade for your resident population as a whole. There is likely an untapped audience in your community and creative programming plus personal touches can help draw those less active residents into the fitness center and/or classes. This is definitely an area of strength for us. Our clients quickly see the benefits of a partnership with NIFS when we can show them exactly who is participating in our programming.  

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Fitness Program

So that begs the question: Do you know what percentage of your residents participate in group fitness classes or uses the fitness center from month to month? Which classes are the most popular or which pieces of equipment are most frequently used? Have your residents shared why this is the case? If you can’t answer all or some of these questions, that likely means your community fitness offerings could benefit from a more solid foundation to evaluate participation and resident interests.

Consider these simple steps your community can take to begin measuring the effectiveness of your program:

  1. Utilization of your fitness center and participation in group fitness classes should be tracked daily and reported on a regular basis. Communities can determine the information they would like to evaluate and implement tracking methods for their fitness staff and residents. We find that residents take to simple sign-in sheets fairly easily and fitness staff and group fitness instructors can provide friendly reminders to residents to sign in. Providing a structured memberhsip process is a good starting point to clearly track who is and is not participating.
  2. Conduct annual surveys to gather direct resident feedback to rate the overall quality of existing classes, instructors, programs, and services. Learn from the resident population as a whole (don’t just send the survey to active participants) about additional programs that they would like to see or ask them to share why they aren’t currently participating. After processing the results, develop an action plan to follow up with individual residents or on general program improvements to continually evolve the program and hopefully engage more participants.
  3. Your fit and active crowd will likely be the most vocal about the types of equipment they would like to see or group classes they would like to try. However, it is important to regularly evaluate the full scope of programing including balance in class offerings, available equipment, and scheduled programs focused on fitness. Residents of all ability levels should have exercise options in the fitness center as well as group exercise classes for their specific needs. It’s fine for instructors to provide modifications for residents of all ability levels in classes, but it’s important for lower-functioning participants to feel like they have options all their own and that they aren’t simply being condescended to in a group of more able-bodied residents.

Taking these simple steps can help improve resident satisfaction in your community fitness offerings. It will also provide more concrete talking points for your marketing department when speaking with prospective residents. Important program metrics coupled with powerful and personal success stories speak volumes to prospects who are trying to gain an understanding of what their lives can be like if they move into your community.  

CCRC Fitness Center Marketing

Topics: senior center solutions senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior fitness marketing program evaluation

4 Keys to Getting Wellness Program Data You Can Actually Use, Part 2

set goalsPart 2: Your Program Is Set Up... Now What?

In the first part of this blog, we talked about key strategies to set your program up for success. Remember “begin at the beginning” and “map out the ‘how’”? If you’re still intent on getting data you can actually use from your wellness program, keep reading to learn what do to now that you’re ready to run the initiative.

#3: Stick to the Plan

This seems so obvious, so I won’t spend much time on it. Here’s the thing: you spend a lot of time mapping out the goals and the objectives to achieve those goals, and then you design your program around that outline. For heaven’s sake, stick to the plan. Implement the program as close to the original design as possible. If you get into the offering and you find a fatal flaw in the plan, change what you must, but in order for your evaluation to be true, educational, and actionable, you need to stick to the plan.

#4: Evaluate and Report

Drum roll, please. We’re about to get to the goods, so stick with me here. So, you set up your goals, you map out how you will accomplish the goals, you craft your program accordingly, you bravely stick with the plan, and then when it’s all over, you evaluate how you did.

We think about your post-program evaluation in two ways:

  1. Overall effectiveness of the program: We calculate how we communicated the program, how many people we reached, how accurately we ran the initiative, how many people completed the program, etc. All of that gets folded together into a program-impact score. The numbers that feed into the impact score and the score itself allow for year-over-year (or program-over-program) comparisons for effectiveness over time.
  2. Achievement of our goals: If we set up the goals correctly so that they were measureable, and we ran the program knowing the data we needed, we should be able to figure out whether we reached our goals.

In addition to crunching some basic numbers, our staff members are responsible for reporting their program results to their supervisor, who then works with the manager on developing strategies for future program improvements. The supervisor also makes sure that best practice information is shared among other staff so that important lessons learned can be used by everyone. After all, if you hit on some brilliant technique for communicating with the audience you need to reach, shouldn’t the entire community working with that audience benefit from your success?

We’ve been following The Wellness Challenge program as an example throughout these two blogs. So let me wrap up with some of the juicy data Reggie, the manager responsible for this initiative, was able to gather based on pre- and post-program evaluation.

Straight from Reggie’s report, here are his proposed changes for the next The Wellness Challenge offering, as well as his quick summary of his goals:

Goal Report:

  • Goal 1: Have at least 80 participants with approximately 1/4 of them being staff. Did not fully meet: Had only 72 participants, but 29% were employees.
  • Goal 2: Increase class participation totals by 15% and increase fitness center visits by 250 per month throughout the challenge. Goal met: Increased class size by 65% over prior 2 months and increased FC visits by 435 compared to prior 2 months.
  • Goal 3: Increase fitness center membership by 10 members (5 residents and 5 staff) during the challenge. Did not meet: Increased staff membership by 3 and resident membership by 2.

For next year to improve overall program impact:

  • Make the teams smaller.
  • Give 1 point/minute walked.
  • Establish a volunteer limit.
  • Hold an orientation/team meet-and-greet before the challenge starts.
  • Reconsider food point system to possibly include fruit.
  • Reconsider prizes. Try giving away less money.

So Reggie learned he’s got some work to do if he folds those same unmet goals into next year’s offering. He’ll need to revamp his strategies. He’s already well on his way to crafting that plan because he has this complete outline on which to build an improved The Wellness Challenge.

How Are You Evaluating Your Programs?

Certainly there’s more than one way to skin this evaluation cat. How are you doing it? What are you learning? Program evaluation is only one element of a first-rate wellness strategy. Communicating a strong wellness brand, having quality physical spaces for where your initiatives can occur, and cultivating amazing wellness staff are all central to a fabulous program.

Improve your programs >



Topics: NIFS senior wellness programs senior fitness management program evaluation data

4 Keys to Getting Wellness Program Data You Can Actually Use

NIFS | Wellness DataPart 1: Setting Your Program Up for Success

I think our staff members roll their eyes every time they hear me start talking about gathering data from our programs. That might be because I talk about it a lot; it might also be because I’m a little bit of a geek about data. Regardless, they can eye-roll all they want, because when the data gathering and program evaluation is done right, well, it’s a beautiful thing! 

Let me explain by using an example from a program that recently wrapped up at one of our senior living client locations. “The Wellness Challenge” has been offered for two years at the community. It’s a good wellness survey type of program that encourages residents to dig into all dimensions of wellness. There are several positive and important elements to The Wellness Challenge:

  • It’s a team challenge, so there’s potential for socialization built into the fabric of the program.
  • The program is open to residents and employees, so there is a very real buzz at the community, with individuals across the campus engaged in the challenge.
  • It capitalizes on the healthy resolution wave that follows the indulgence that is the end-of-the-year holiday time.
  • The challenge runs that perfect, sweet-spot length of seven weeks. (We find that most programs of this type are ideally suited to run somewhere between six to eight weeks.)

Now, to be fair, this program was not the brainchild of the current NIFS manager, Reggie. However, he was able to take the original offering from his predecessor, which involved no evaluation strategy, and transform it so that we have both a rich offering for the client, and actionable data that will inform future offerings of both this program and others like it.

What, you ask, is actionable data? Good question! In this two-part blog, we’ll look at four tips for getting the data you want from your wellness program. Part 1 focuses on the before-you-launch-the-program elements (tips #1 and #2). Part 2 will focus on during-the-program and post-program components (tips #3 and #4).

#1: Begin at the Beginning

The whole evaluation and data thing starts by being strategic with the program on the front end. That’s right; we are moving away from running fun programs just to run them (shocking, I know). The staff members actually set program goals before they run the program and then they make sure that the program they’re offering is set up in a way to allow for evaluation of those goals.

  • You can’t assess your progress on the goals if they aren’t actually measureable. This sounds intuitive, but people miss the boat on it all the time. Establish goals that are S.M.A.R.T. For more on this concept, check out this blog.
  • Create goals that tie back to your overall program goals. For example, if you’re trying to increase visits to your group exercise classes, establish a goal to increase overall class attendance, or maybe focus on how many new people you can get into class with this program. (If you’re lacking focus for your overall wellness program, you probably should start there before you dig too deeply into meaningless goals for programs that don’t connect back to a larger strategy.)
  • Keep the list fairly short. This isn’t a research study with all kinds of grant money and data heads behind it. Stick to what you know, and keep the goals manageable in terms of volume; two to three goals per program has worked for us.
  • Before you get too far ahead of yourself with lofty, complicated goals that make you sound really smart, you also need to be sure you have the tools to measure the goals. In truth, most of our staff are operating with fairly traditional supports. We use a lot of spreadsheets (though not infinitely complex ones), and in some cases we have software that helps with visit reporting, etc.

#2: Map Out the “How”

You’ve established these two to three program goals. They are succinct; they tie back to your overall wellness program focus; they are written on a scale you can support. Great job! Now it’s time to map out your plan to actually achieve those goals.

No, it’s not enough to outline the goals and then just run the program. That’s like pulling up to the shooting range and saying, “Ready…Fire!” Forgetting to aim means you will most likely miss your target―unless you are extremely lucky.

For example, if you set a goal to increase group fitness class attendance by 15% for the duration of the program, you need to outline the steps you will take to achieve that goal. In the case of The Wellness Challenge, Reggie built the program so that participation in group classes was weighted more heavily than some other activities, and he gave more points for participating in cardiovascular exercise (which, he emphasized, could be achieved by taking classes). In short, he incentivized what he was trying to drive people to do. (Genius, I know!)

You won’t want to miss part 2 of this blog, where we look into how to run the program and what to do when it’s over.

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Topics: NIFS senior wellness programs senior fitness management program evaluation data

Top 5 Reasons Your Residents Don’t Engage in Wellness

In my work with continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) across the U.S., I’ve seen resident SHCV_DartArt_NSHFD.jpgwellness programs and services come in all shapes and sizes. These days, it seems all senior living communities advertise some kind of wellness opportunity for their residents. Clearly, communities are getting the message about how important resident well-being really is for both the resident and the business.

Resources like the National Whole Person Wellness survey that can guide and inform both strategic and tactical decisions for a community wellness initiative are becoming more commonly available. Similarly, the swell around opportunities like the International Council on Active Aging’s focus on Active Aging Week have sparked creative programming for older adults to engage in vibrant living.

For all of the fantastic diversity in wellness programming, resources, and opportunities available in senior living settings, there seems to be a consistent theme for many providers. They pull together initiatives only to have the same core group of residents participate. Simply put, there is a lack of robust resident engagement in the programs put forward by resident life coordinators.

It’s not an all-inclusive list, but what I’ve offered below represents some of the most common challenges I have seen in communities where NIFS provides staffing services or where I’ve offered wellness program consulting. If you find yourself nodding your head in affirmation as you read, it might be time to take a fresh look at what you’re offering and how you’re providing it.

Reason 1: You failed to leverage community champions as a promotional avenue.

Trying a new group fitness class, sampling from a new healthy menu, or participating in a new wellness initiative can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. There’s nothing like a personal invitation from a neighbor or trusted friend to help nudge you toward trying something new.

If you’re not working with your top resident participants to capitalize on their success as a tool for inviting new residents to engage, you’re missing out. Personal invitation, testimonials, and other individual connection can be very successful tools for attracting other, less active residents toward wellness programming.

  • Capture testimonials in resident newsletters and on community bulletin boards/CCTV.
  • Talk to specific residents prior to launching a new initiative and ask them to invite their friends to join them. Tell them why you think their personal invitation is so important. Perhaps suggest specific residents they could connect with for the activity.
  • Build a “refer a friend” component into your next activity challenge.

Reason 2: Power grabs and silos are overshadowing what’s really possible at your community.

Oh my goodness and for the love of Mike, please stop with the power grabs when it comes to activity programming in the community. No one wins when the activity director, the physical therapy group, and the fitness manager are vying for control of programs, spaces, and resident loyalty.

When community staff learn to play well together in the same programs and services sandbox, the community will benefit.

  • Activities staff should be eager to learn from their fitness director how to fold more exercise and other healthy messages into their standard programming. For what it’s worth, if you’ve done your homework and gotten the right person to direct your fitness center, then he or she is likely also qualified to provide expertise related to whole-person wellness.
  • The fitness director and the therapy department should be eagerly working together on a cross-referral program that supports appropriate therapy for residents in need and fitness program participation to maintain the positive work completed in therapy.

Reason 3: You forgot to ask the residents what they want to learn about and how they want to grow.

Communities are practiced at surveying residents, but those surveys typically encompass overall living at the community. Rarely are communities engaged in surveying residents about what their wellness interests and expectations are. Even rarer are custom focus groups where much can be learned about resident perspectives on current and future healthful-living offerings.

Reason 4: Volunteerism by residents is overlooked as a strategy to get more done with less staff.

Let’s face it : community financial resources are typically limited, and no one wants to charge residents more to expand services. So, you’re probably stuck with the staff resources you currently have. If that’s the case, consider tapping into occupational wellness by engaging resident volunteers to own some of the community wellness initiatives.

  • Walking groups, small-group Bible study, craft or hobby groups, and promotion and health-focused book clubs can all be resident driven.
  • You may be able to engage tech-savvy residents to support program data collection and analysis. Who could help you convert the manual attendance records into your software or spreadsheet for later analysis?

Reason 5: Data is king. If you don’t have data, you won’t know what’s working.

If I had a nickel for every time I talked to community professionals who told me they weren’t tracking attendance in their programs, I’d be set for early retirement. Folks, you need to start gathering data on your initiatives. It doesn’t have to be hard and the numbers don’t have to be confusing. But if you keep burying your head in the sand on numbers because you’re “not good with numbers,” you will forever be left with initiatives that are about as effective as slapping spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.

  • Start small with participation numbers. Take attendance in your group fitness classes to learn which residents are coming and how often. Have residents self-report participation in the next healthy food tasting event, etc.
  • Refer to #4 for some support on how to use participation numbers to track trends over time.
  • Work with your marketing staff to find out what kinds of numbers they need to market your community’s wellness program, and then determine how to capture that data for them.

 What will you do next?

I’m not a fan of change for the sake of change alone. Still, sometimes change (or evolution, if you will) is necessary to elevate your offerings for the good of your community.

If you’re looking for a little help in evolving your community wellness strategy, visit our consulting page. If you busted right through the challenges above for top-notch service, share your best practices here!


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

Topics: senior center solutions senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center engagement senior fitness

How to Develop Successful Group Fitness Classes in Senior Living

active aging group fitnessJust as it is important to establish appropriate hiring criteria for Group Fitness Instructors (GFIs) at Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), its equally important to routinely evaluate the performance of GFIs and the group fitness offerings to residents.

The challenge to this evaluation is to establish the community personnel qualified to complete these evaluations. If your community has a qualified fitness professional, it’s a no-brainer that this individual can ensure that GFIs have the appropriate qualifications and can regularly evaluate their instruction. If your community does not have a qualified fitness professional, it can be a challenge to find the right personnel to fill this role. In either case, steps should be taken to ensure the safety of participating residents.

Evaluating the Senior Fitness Instructor

Evaluating an instructor can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Simply observing the class and taking notes on the questions in the following list can be a decent starting point, although a traditional graded model rating the instructor’s performance is ideal. Rating his or her performance is a real challenge for a layperson who doesn’t know what to look for. Even these questions might be too much of a stretch. This may lend significant weight to a community’s decision to hire a qualified fitness professional to oversee its fitness center and group exercise program. If community personnel can’t observe the following qualities in an existing instructor, how can they feel qualified to hire a new GFI? This may be placing your community personnel in a difficult position and not holding your community’s fitness offerings to a high enough standard.

  1. Are they providing a proper warm-up and cool-down for participants?
  2. Are they providing modifications to exercises to better challenge residents who are more advanced or to provide a safe exercise for residents who need an option at a lesser intensity?
  3. Are residents able to follow the cueing the instructor provides? Is the instructor providing additional cueing for residents to correct their form throughout the class?
  4. Is the instructor receptive to the needs of the class (for example, when it’s time to take a break, transition to seated exercises, get a drink of water, etc.)?
  5. Do the participants appear engaged and challenged by what they are doing, or do they need additional stimulation in the class?

Evaluating the Group Fitness Class Offerings

While it’s important to make sure the instructors are meeting resident needs, it’s also important to regularly evaluate the class formats and schedule for your group fitness program. Classes often evolve as participants progress and provide their feedback to instructors on their likes and dislikes. This gradual evolution may result in a completely different type of class from what it was at its inception. Review your current schedule at least once a year and consider the following:

  1. Are there class options for residents of all ability levels spanning from the lower-functioning participants to residents who may need a challenge from a higher-intensity class? (As existing classes evolve and residents progress, make sure that a moderate-level class that welcomes beginners actually hasn’t become too advanced.)
  2. Is there structure provided to the way classes are scheduled? For example, strength and conditioning classes should not be held on back-to-back days, and folding all of the group fitness offerings into a Tuesday-Thursday or Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule will not promote maximum resident engagement.
  3. Do you have cardio, strength training, balance training, flexibility training, and spiritual elements within your class schedule?

Using these questions as a starting point will help you evaluate your group fitness instructors and programs to ensure that they are offering the best experience to your residents.

Quick Tip to Strengthen Your Community Exercise Program



Topics: group exercise senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior fitness

Balance Programs: Are You Meeting Your Residents’ Needs?

Many communities offer balance training to their residents simply as a component of a group fitness class on the activities schedule. I’m here to tell you that is not enough! Residents need an opportunity for group classes solely dedicated to balance training, as well as balance assessments, equipment, and workouts in their community fitness centers.

Comprehensive balance training programming is often an early success when NIFS begins staffing a fitness center at retirement communities. We’ve been able to engage many residents in the fitness program who previously wouldn’t buy into other modes of physical activity, but they are chomping at the bit to participate in balance training opportunities that can decrease their risk of falls and improve their confidence. Doing so is sometimes a “gateway activity” to help residents recognize their abilities. After building that initial confidence, they experiment with a NuStep or a chair aerobics class. We’ve all got to start somewhere!

NIFS’ Balance Challenge ProgramNIFS Balance Challenge

To promote existing balance training programs at our CCRCs, NIFS will hold its inaugural Balance Challenge in March. The Balance Challenge program encompasses different elements of our regularly offered balance training programs and services as well as a few new opportunities for residents. Participants will track their activity on a scorecard and will be required to participate in group classes, educational lectures, assessments, fitness center workouts, obstacle courses, and much more to complete the Challenge. The program is designed with activity options for residents of varying ability levels so it can be marketed to someone new to the fitness program looking to get into a routine, or for seasoned participants to further hone their skills.

All participants in the Challenge will complete a Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale test as well as a pre- and post-program survey in which they will rate their current balance skills and confidence levels. In future programs, we hope to see that our participants are maintaining or improving their balance abilities as well as their confidence levels through engaging in not only the month-long Challenge, but also throughout the year in regularly scheduled programs. (Consider the marketing advantages for a community with data of this nature to back up the effectiveness of your balance programs!)

Things to Consider When Starting a CCRC Balance Program

Here are a few key considerations when launching a comprehensive balance program for your residents:

  • Who is qualified to lead these types of classes and services for your residents?
  • How will you track the impact the program is having on your residents’ functional abilities and how will you utilize that information?
  • How can you utilize resident volunteers to act as your balance champions to demonstrate exercises, provide testimonials, etc., on the effectiveness of the program? (Residents seeing their peers demonstrate exercises may help them get over any fears of participating.)
  • How can you partner with your community therapy department in balance program offerings?

Whether your community already has a variety of balance training opportunities, or you are looking to launch some new initiatives, consider how a comprehensive program can help spark enthusiasm in your residents!

Senior Fitness, teaching balance
Topics: senior wellness programs senior fitness management balance senior fitness balance training

3 Must-Haves in Group Fitness Instructors for CCRCs

considerations for hiring group fitness instructorsMany Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a variety of group fitness classes to their residents. The community personnel who hire the group fitness instructors (GFIs) may benefit from a few pointers on hiring standards beyond someone’s personality alone. Don’t get me wrong, the right personality and ability to build relationships with residents is crucial for making a class successful. However, a narrow focus on personality alone may not provide your residents with the maximum benefits of participating in the activity and could create a dangerous environment.

Certifications and Insurance

To protect participants in group exercise classes (whether in commercial gym, church, school, or CCRC settings), fitness industry standards require that GFIs maintain current instruction certifications and CPR/AED certifications. Contracted GFIs should also carry proof of personal liability insurance. Well-qualified GFIs are aware of these standards and likely would not be in the practice of instructing without maintaining those certifications. For community personnel hiring these individuals, that may be your first sign. If someone applies for the position and cannot provide proof of current certifications and liability insurance, they likely aren’t the best fit for meeting the fitness program standards for your community.

Furthermore, communities should make sure that they are maintaining current copies of certifications from their existing GFI staff. If you find that existing instructors do not have current certifications, it’s likely time to establish a timeline within which your GFIs can obtain a certification to continue with their instruction.

Experience in Senior Fitness

It’s also important to make sure that GFIs have experience teaching an older-adult population. When looking for an instructor, you might contact local senior centers, churches, or YMCAs and share information about your opening and provide the requirements and qualifications you are looking for in a GFI. This may provide you with a better candidate pool than having to sift through GFIs who teach boot camp, kettlebell, or kickboxing-type classes.


Looking at certifications and experience instructing older adults is the best starting point when looking for a GFI. However, as previously mentioned, the personality of the GFI is also critical for the overall enjoyment of the participants. When replacing an instructor or recruiting an instructor for a new class format, you might consider surveying your residents on their desired qualities in an instructor and in a class.

For example, if you are searching for a yoga instructor, residents may have feedback on enjoying the relaxation benefits of the class. This could allow you to question candidates on elements of relaxation they build into their class. While you may not have the expertise to recognize the specific details on the relaxation elements they are discussing, you should be able to gather feedback on their style of instruction: Is it soothing, focusing on breathing and guided imagery and providing a sense of calming for participants? Or does the instructor focus on deep stretching or strengthening throughout the class?

Establishing standards for GFIs in your group fitness program can benefit more than just your residents. Sharing these standards with prospective residents can be a great marketing tool to promote the dedication and focus your community places on its wellness programming.  

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Topics: group exercise senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior fitness yoga

How to Address Senior Fitness Class Challenges

senior stretch classWhat are some challenges in developing group fitness classes for active older adults? One of the hardest things for me is that there is a wide variety in exercise knowledge and ability. For example, you might have someone who has never exercised a day in their life sitting next to someone who has been exercising in a gym for decades. Or, you may have someone in their middle 60s next to someone who is 85 with two knee replacements.

To overcome these challenges, make sure that you give both a progressive and regressive option for each exercise that you are teaching. Allow the individuals to experiment with what works for them. Each individual will choose how hard they want to make the exercise, but it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure they are able to complete the exercise in a safe and effective manner for their varying ability levels. Encourage the participants to try new exercises, but also let people know that it’s okay to progress slowly over several weeks or months. The most important aspect is that they keep moving and have fun while feeling accomplished at an appropriate intensity level for their needs.

Use Visual and Verbal Cues

Each individual will learn in his or her own way. Make sure that you not only show them a visual demonstration but also use verbal cueing that may help them. At this age, some of your residents may not see well and others may not hear well. Pick out key words or moves that may help them remember from one class to the next.

Explain Why They Are Doing the Exercise

It is also important to educate senior fitness participants on why they are doing different exercises. Describe the reason for the exercise, the muscle group being worked, and how it should feel while performing the exercise. This can help participants become more in tune with their bodies and may help prevent injury if they develop improved body awareness.

For example when cueing upright rows, explain to the participants that the exercise can help improve their posture because it engages the muscles of the upper back and backside of their shoulders. As you cue them through the movements, explain how to engage the shoulder blades so they can specifically feel and identify where the muscles should be working if the exercise is being done correctly. For someone who does not have a good visual of the exercise being demonstrated, it may provide reassurance that they are performing the exercise correctly if your verbal cueing is matching up with what they are feeling.

Topics: motivation senior fitness management senior fitness fitness success

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

Senior Wellness: New Year, New You

senior thumbs up resized 600While many residents aren’t burning the midnight oil to ring in the new year on December 31, that doesn’t mean that the spark of renewal and enthusiasm to embrace a new year is any less for these folks. The new year is a great time for senior living communities to launch or promote their community wellness program.

It’s important to utilize the momentum that a new year can spark for some residents, while also helping to uplift residents who may have struggled through the holiday season. Here are a few tips for helping your residents embrace the New Year:

  • Education: A wellness-based lifestyle can be a foreign concept to some older adults. Hold an educational lecture series highlighting the multiple dimensions of wellness. Describe the different dimensions of wellness and provide residents with examples of the regularly scheduled activities they can get involved in at the community related to the featured dimension.
  • Fitness: Help residents establish short- and long-term fitness goals in the new year and help them track their progress. Recognize when goals are met to help residents feel an early sense of accomplishment in the new year while further helping them continue to strive for longer-term goals.
  • Incentivize engagement: Schedule special activities in the first couple months of the year that touch on the different dimensions of wellness. Flag these activities on your calendar and tell residents that they will be entered into a prize drawing for each activity they participate in. You can also host a party for those residents who attend each of the special activities.
Topics: senior wellness programs senior fitness management senior fitness