Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Senior Fitness: What is the point of exercising?

As we age, we get this notion that we no longer need to exercise, or as the common adage says, “I’m too old.” To put it bluntly, you are never too old to exercise or be active. No matter your condition, one of the best things you can do is to get up and move. Years of research has shown that exercising has tremendous health benefits, no matter what your age is! Exercising has shown to improve balance and coordination, prevent bone loss, increase strength, improve cognitive function, and decrease chronic illnesses such as diabetes. With this in mind, here are few senior wellness myths that older adults believe when it comes to exercising.

What is the point of exercising when decline in old age is inescapable?ThinkstockPhotos-494387649.jpg

Aging does not mean decline; it means another chapter in life with new challenges to overcome. There are numerous stories of older adults becoming marathon runners like Ed Whitlock, who ran marathons well into his 80s. While running a marathon may not be your goal, it does show you that age does not matter. The delusion is that aging means weakness and/or fatigue, but in reality it’s a sign of inactivity. More importantly, exercising and staying active can help you maintain your independence and your lifestyle.

At my age, is exercise really safe for me?

Yes, exercise is safe for you. Again it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Moreover, studies have shown that individuals who exercise on a regular basis are less likely to fall. In part this is because exercising improves strength, flexibility, and coordination. Two of the better exercises that target flexibility and coordination are tai chi and yoga. Additionally, exercising frequently will increase bone density and decrease the likelihood of osteoporosis. 

I have a chronic disease, so I shouldn’t exercise.

Many older adults suffer from arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic conditions. And because of it, older adults believe that they can no longer exercise. In fact, the opposite is true. Exercising and being physically active is the best thing to do. For example, if you have arthritis, exercising will help improve your range of motion and decrease the pain caused by arthritis, which will lead to increased energy levels and improved sleep. Additionally, if you happen to have arthritis, here are a few tips to get started before exercising:

  • Apply heat: This will help the blood flow and relax the muscles around the affected area.
  • Move gently: Move slowly to warm up the joints. You may want to do this between 5 and 10 minutes before moving on to strength and aerobic activities.
  • Ice: After performing your exercises, apply ice as needed to help prevent joint swelling.

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If you are just starting out with senior fitness, make sure not to overdo it. It’s alright to start off slowly and to work your way up in intensity, especially if you have not been exercising for a few years or decades. The goal is to get moving and to create a habit that becomes a lifestyle. Also expect to experience soreness after beginning a program. However if you experience pain, you may have exercised too hard and will want to tone it down. 

See how we keep our residents coming back to the fitness center with our unique programing.  Click below for ideas to improve your programs.

Improve your programs >

Topics: senior wellness balance senior fitness staying active injury prevention osteoporosis

Practical Senior Fitness and Functional Movement for Every Body

So what’s so practical about going to the gym, anyway? We can always find a million and one good reasons not to go. The dishes aren’t done, I haven’t finished reading the newspaper, the laundry is piling up, I have a headache, it’s too nice to be stuck inside, I’ve had a bad day…the list of excuses can go on and on. So why even bother?

The good news is that you don’t have to work out. But with every yin there is a yang, and the bad news is that if you choose not to exercise, you can expect to have a tougher time, especially as you get older, with simple daily tasks.

What Happens When You Can’t Perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

At this point in your life I bet you can’t imagine not being able to walk up and down a flight of stairs, or losing the ability to dress yourself or brush your own hair. These are simple activities of daily living that we tend to take for granted. I can’t imagine entrusting my 5-year-old nephew with picking out clothes and putting them on me. I would probably have on a t-shirt with dinosaurs or a front-end loader on it, a pair of warmup pants (on backward, of course), and slip-on Wellie boots on the wrong feet. So thank goodness I can manage to get myself together and pick out my own clothes at this point in my life—and walk up and down the stairs to pick out said clothes, and get myself to work, or out to dinner with my husband, or on a walk with the dogs.

So how do we lose the ability to do functional movements that seem mundane at this point in our lives? It all boils down to inactivity. Sure, there are a lot of other issues that can compound the simple act of avoiding movement and exercise. But the act of avoiding movement and exercise on its own is enough, over time, and added to the natural muscular wasting or atrophy that occurs as we age, creates a perfect storm of problems that can seem insurmountable.

We need movement, especially weight-bearing exercises, to keep our muscles healthy and vital. As we age (Newsflash: we are all getting older; by the time you get to the end of this blog, you will be 10 minutes older), our bodies are less able to both maintain and create new muscle. Once you reach age 70, this issue begins to accelerate. By age 80 the problem has moved into the fast lane, and boy does she have a lead foot. 

The Senior Fitness Solution: Keep Moving and Staying ActiveThinkstockPhotos-463464655.jpg

This wasting process makes daily activities increasingly more difficult. And now we are back to the idea of going to the gym, because we don’t want our legs to shrivel up like a worm that sits in the sun too long. But we still have the same old excuses. So what to do? Do the things that you want to continue to maintain your ability to do.

  • Going up and down stairs: You still want to walk up and down the stairs? Take 10 to 15 minutes a day and briskly walk up and down the stairs. If you don’t have a staircase, use the curb outside or buy an aerobic step riser from a sporting goods store.
  • Getting in and out of chairs (or on or off the toilet): Another key exercise for leg strength is a modified squat, or what we call a sit to stand (and it’s also good for balance). Sitting on the edge of a sturdy chair, trying not to use your arms, come up to a standing position. Then sit back down. Imagine you are sitting on a lemon meringue pie. Don’t splat it out; sit on it gently. Don’t stay in the chair. Just touch it with your rear end and then push back up. Try 2 or 3 sets of 10.
  • Dressing yourself and performing ADLs: Want to still be able to dress yourself and brush your own hair? Do modified pushups or wall pushups! Two sets of 10 per day will be more than adequate. Add in some weights (you can just use soup cans) and do some overhead presses and a few bicep curls and reverse flys to activate the upper body. Stick with the idea of doing the exercises until the muscles fatigue, usually after 20 to 30 repetitions. Add in a few planks for core strength. If planks are out of your league right now, just do some bent-leg lifts while on your back on the floor.

All of this is probably within your reach now. But why don’t you take a few minutes after you finish reading this blog to test out your abilities. Do all the stuff I outlined above, with not too much of a break in between, and see how you do. If it is a little or a lot tough, keep at it! It will get easier, and you will still be able to brush your hair and get off the toilet as you age! I’d say that active aging is a reward in and of itself.

Check out more great ideas like this from our staff!  Click below for more best practices from NIFS.

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Topics: active aging senior fitness staying active core strength ADL planks activities of daily living functional movement

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

Change Your Commuting Habits for Improved Employee Health

Depending on where you live, if you drive yourself to work, your daily commute could be up to 90 minutes each way. The average American will spend 25 minutes commuting to work according to U.S. census data. Unfortunately, this is taking its toll on your overall health in more ways than the obvious: accumulating even more minutes of sitting throughout your day.

Let’s talk about what is really happening to your health as you are driving yourself to and from work each day, and what you can do about minimizing those negative effects by replacing them with positive habits you can incorporate into your commute.

Traffic Jams, Weather Delays, Road Rage = Another Opportunity for Stress!

ThinkstockPhotos-178516386.jpgThere are things that happen on our commute that we did not plan on that put us behind on our already hectic schedules or just annoy us. It is easy to become anxious when these things happen and start or end the day with added stress from the experience. The truth is these things are typically 100% out of your control, so this should not be a source of stress.

Next time you find yourself in this situation, simply take a few deep breaths. According to the American Institute of Stress, to decrease the damaging effects of stress on the body you should take focused and intentional deep breaths. This will allow you to truly relax by decreasing your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, thus decreasing your overall response to the added stress.

Commuting Can Be a Pain…Seriously

When you have to sit for long periods of time, make sure you are sitting correctly. This comes back to ergonomics, but setting up your car to meet your needs has many elements to consider. The USDA APHIS Ergonomics Program does an excellent job of teaching you how to set up your driver’s seat properly as well as the risks associated with not setting it up correctly: increasing your risks for low back pain, neck strains, and many other common musculoskeletal injuries. Take a few minutes to properly adjust your vehicle to prevent these issues from occurring.

The Link Between Longer Commutes and Increased Prevalence of Obesity, High Blood Pressure, and Low Cardiovascular Fitness

Research from Washington University has shown a high correlation between longer commutes and increased prevalence of various health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, and high blood pressure. An obvious way to combat this is to ride your bike or walk to work, but realistically this is not always possible for many adults. Sometimes the commute is simply too long, or the city you are working in does not have the infrastructure to support this.

When commuting by foot or bike is not possible, it is even more important to find time for physical activity at some point during the day to help minimize these risks. One way that you can do this is to use a fitness facility on your way to or from work. This is a great option because not only will it allow you to access activity, but it will break up the time you are spending in your vehicle. 

Take This as an Opportunity to Make Time for Your Well-Being

If you have the option of using public transportation, your options here can be endless! One study has shown that people who use active travel (walking, public transportation, and biking) compared to those who drive themselves to work report higher levels of positive well-being. If active travel is not an option, maybe you enjoy listening to music, audiobooks, podcasts, or just being alone with your thoughts. The commute can provide a great opportunity to do these things. Many take this time as an opportunity to learn more in an area that they are interested in but just can’t seem to find the time to do, or to simply just unwind from their hectic schedules.

Although the commute is likely not your favorite part of your day, it does not have to completely derail your employee health if you take these things into consideration. Take a few minutes this week and reflect on your commute and think about where you may be able to incorporate some of these healthy habits to improve upon and maintain your good health.

Consider how you can provide better wellness and fitness services to your employee, click below for ideas from NIFS.

Improve your services >

Topics: biking walking stress health staying active sitting high blood pressure

Workouts for People Who Don't Like the Senior Fitness Center

A few months ago, a resident approached me and asked whether we could meet and create an exercise regimen for her. Of course I obliged her request, and we met and created a plan that day.

For three weeks, “Sally” came to the fitness center twice per week and attended one fitness class per week, just like we planned. But then Sally disappeared! I contacted Sally one week later to make sure she was okay and to see where she had been. Sally told me that as much as she needed to exercise, she just did not enjoy it, so she was quitting. I told her I understood and would be sending her a list of activities I wanted her to try for staying active.

From my experiences with Sally I know she is a fantastic actress and a very social person, hence the reason we initially decided on her taking a fitness class. But since that did not work, I composed a list of activities that I felt would fit her personality and interests while burning a few extra calories at the same time.

The list I sent Sally is as follows:grandfather_and_grandchild_ThinkstockPhotos-78247514

1. Rehearse your lines on the go.

Take advantage of the time you spend rehearsing your lines. Make it a point never to sit when you rehearse. Pace back in forth in your home, or go for a walk while you run your lines. Just don’t be still. This concept can also be used while talking on the phone.

2. Spend time with the younger generations.

Try spending time with your grandchildren or great-grandchildren. No matter what age they are, you can get a great workout when you spend time with them. Chasing after a curious toddler to keep them out of trouble will keep you on your toes and have you constantly moving.

If your grandkids aren’t quite that young, try taking them out walking or for other activities. There is no better workout than trying to keep up with your 6-foot, 4-inch grandson’s walking pace. Spending time with younger people can be fun and make you feel more energized.

3. Run errands for your neighbors.

A great way to see your friends and get in some extra activity each day is by helping your friends. Do you have a friend who is not very mobile? Volunteer to pick up their mail or medication. What about a friend with a dog? Volunteer to take the dog for its walk. No matter what you volunteer to do, you will burn some extra calories, socialize with friends, and have an improved sense of self-value for your philanthropic actions.

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The ideas I sent Sally won’t result in large amounts of weight loss or increased strength, but they will get her more active, which is a start. If you see some Sally in you, or you are working with someone in senior fitness who has some Sally in them, try a few of these ideas. If these ideas don’t fit your situation, think of others that do. Just make sure you enjoy these alternative workouts, because if you don’t enjoy them, they won’t last.

 

Topics: walking calories senior fitness staying active

Successful Corporate Fitness Program Gets Back to the Basics

Americans are fond of a quick fix, in weight loss in particular. According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, surgical weight loss procedures increased from 13,000 in 1998 to 220,000 in 2008. A survey in the United Kingdom evaluated public attitudes toward such cosmetic surgery for weight loss and found that 59% of women would choose surgery over changing eating habits and engaging in regular exercise to lose weight or change their body shape. 

Anecdotally, our corporate fitness staff see these stories in the employees they serve as well. As a nation, we haven’t moved the needle on helping adults get more movement in their daily lives, and the numbers inside the corporate fitness center have peaked as well. So, what are we doing wrong?

Certainly, there are work-related and personal-life pressures that the staff in your corporate fitness center cannot impact, and there will always be a cap on how many employees they can reach. But in some ways, we’ve fallen away from basic services and simple program design as tools to draw participants into the programs. Businesses have committed (right or wrong) their focus to outcomes-based wellness offerings, and looked to biometric data and HRA results for those outcomes. Businesses have also turned (in droves) to wearables as a tool to help employees move more; the jury is still out on their long-term effectiveness. 

NIFS150 Encourages More Physical ActivityWatchThinkstockPhotos-465631985

In an effort to get back to simple measures designed to help participants (1) understand their fitness level, and (2) move more minutes each day, our staff designed a simple NIFS150 program where participants were encouraged to accomplish 150 minutes of physical activity per week for eight weeks and complete a pre- and post-program fitness assessment. 

Participants were able to earn their 150 minutes anywhere, anytime—we simply wanted them working to achieve the research-backed recommendation from the CDC. We pulled fitness assessments into the mix as a throwback to some older research performed by Dr. Steven Blair and colleagues that was published in the April 1995 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. That research showed that improving fitness level (defined by cardiovascular endurance) can decrease mortality risk. 

Forty percent of the initial 700 participants in the NIFS program completed at least 150 minutes of activity per week all eight weeks, and the staff completed assessments on 198 participants. Almost half of the participants indicated that this was the first NIFS program they’ve tried, so we’re pleased we hit a sweet spot for so many new folks! 

More than 75% of participants reported that the challenge helped them be more active than usual. Still, it’s worth noting that only one third of participants actually used the fitness center more during the program. You might think we were disappointed that more participants didn’t flock to the fitness centers with this client to gain their 150 minutes. After all, the program ran through the first quarter of 2015 in Indiana; it’s not like it was prime weather for exercising outside. Our priority with this initiative was to help employees be more physically active. We definitely keep track of visits, memberships, and other fitness center-related metrics, but we think it’s a win that we drew in so many newbies and that participants were more active than usual during the challenge. 

What We Learned from the Data

In addition to gaining some feedback from all the participants, we also surveyed those who completed fitness assessments as part of the program. We learned that

  • 70% of those who responded to the survey had never participated in a fitness assessment before.
  • 62% are now more likely to be active in their corporate fitness center.
  • 70% intend to continue with a periodic fitness assessment to track their progress on fitness-specific goals.
My read on this basic data is that we have a lot of opportunity to communicate the value of the (free) fitness assessments. We may need to find new language and new avenues for talking about what the testing is and how it might help an employee achieve health-related goals. And we probably have some champions from this initial offering of NIFS150 who could help by sharing their stories. We also have a clear opening to revisit the basic 150 minutes per week recommendation as a tool to draw more employees into moving more each day.  

Our staff continue to provide innovative programming for our clients. But this particular program points to just how simple a science-based offering can be yet still create impact. 

How are you creating impact through corporate fitness programming? Looking for more program ideas to get your creative juices flowing? Check out our Best Practices series—click on the button below to find out more. 

  NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: exercise corporate fitness NIFS corporate fitness centers staying active program evaluation data fitness assessment

Active Aging: Making time for Physical Activity

elderly woman pumping ironRegular physical activity is essential for healthy aging!  There are two main questions that I am constantly being ask: how much exercise should I do? and how do I find the time to exercise?

The first question is easy to answer.  There are specific guidelines that seek to help older adults select types and amounts of exercises appropriate for their abilities. The key word is ability, please know your limitations and make sure you have your doctor’s consent.

Key Guidelines for Older Adults (65 years or older):

  • Avoid inactivity. Some is better than none!
  • Do at least 150 minutes (2hours and 30minutes) per week of moderate-intensity Aerobic Activity! These include walking, biking, rowing, nu-step, water aerobics, and even dancing. These could be performed in episodes of 10-15 minutes throughout the week.
  • Do at least 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities. These include weight machines, hand-held weights, exercise bands, calisthenics, even digging in the garden.
  • Do stretching and relaxation exercises as often as possible. Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent choices.
  • Do Balance Exercises 3 or more days per week. These include backward walking, sideways walking, heel walking, toe walking, and standing from a sitting position.  Remember use support (wall or chair) until you feel more stable.  Tai chi also may help with balance and preventing falls.

The second question is always the most difficult because the number one excuse for not exercising is “LACK OF TIME”.  Even when one retires it seems that all the coupled activities and events leave little room for that important part of our day “EXERCISE”!  No matter how busy you are, someone even busier than you is finding time to exercise.  Here are some ways to squeeze in that time.

  1. Wake up earlier or get to bed later. Sleep is definitely important but you can start your day an extra 30 minutes earlier or end your day an extra 30 minutes later.  You have the advantage of making your own time schedule, and you know whether you’re a morning or evening person.
  2. Cut down on media.  Record how many hours of television you watch or how many hours you spend reading or on the computer.  Cut out some of that time and you will find you have an extra 10 to 30 minutes to exercise.  See Number #3!
  3. Be an active TV watcher or active listener. Combine exercising with watching your favorite show! They have televisions in Fitness Centers! Books on tape are wonderful in enjoying the time you exercise.
  4. Walk around! Getting from one place to another by walking there and back is a great way to incorporate exercise.   Consider your limitations (using a walker, cane, bad knees etc.) but find ways that promote movement.  The stairs, the hallways, standing and talking will burn calories and improve lung function. So take a walk to your retirement community fitness center.
  5. Make it part of your routine.  You brush your teeth, you find time to eat, to socialize, to shower and even to catch up on your favorite television shows or good book.  Therefore, make exercise a part of your daily routine, once it becomes a habit it will be something that you don’t even think about you just do it. Before you know it you will be an active member of your senior living fitness program!
  6. Mix socializing with exercising.  Find an exercise partner, a group to walk with outside or in the hallways, even attend exercise classes where there are others on a regular schedule.  Motivate someone to join you and have them motivate you.  
  7. Schedule an appointment. You wouldn’t want to miss that doctor’s appointment because you may not get another one for over a month.  So why not set a standing appointment with an exercise buddy, a retirement fitness center personal trainer or your dog, and be accountable to exercise on a specific day and time.
  8. Set a goal.  Whether it’s losing weight, gaining weight, standing taller, walking longer or even balancing better.  Exercise provides you those results!  Think about what motivates you to want to incorporate exercising and start working to achieve your goals!
  9. Find an activity you love.  Not everyone wants to come to the community fitness center and not everyone enjoys attending classes.  Dancing, hiking, walking outside and even playing golf provides exercise.  Therefore, do what you love but make sure it keeps the body moving!
  10. Say no.  The big one.  Look at your priorities and responsibilities.  Do you really have to involve yourself in everything on that list?  Can you start to say no to specific things that hinder your ability to find time to exercise? 
Quick Tip to Strengthen Your Community Exercise Program
Topics: adapting to exercise active aging active living balance training staying active

Active Aging: Taking the Extra Step Toward Fitness

senior playing with a dogHow many times do you circle a parking lot looking for that perfect spot right in front of the door? It doesn’t matter if I am at the supermarket, a sporting event, a restaurant, or even the gym (sad, but true); I see people circling the lot like they’re in the Indy 500. As I get out of my car and walk to my destination, all I can do is ask myself, “Do they really think they are benefiting from parking in front of the door?”

My reasons for parking in the back of lots have changed over the years, but the end result hasn’t, and that is more steps walked equals more calories burned.

Can You Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day?

If you have ever been in a walking program or used a pedometer, there is a good chance you were advised to hit the 10,000-steps-per-day mark, but what does that mean? Is it attainable? Let’s break it down into numbers we deal with on a regular basis.

The average person’s stride length (the distance between successive points of contact of the same foot) is about 2.5 feet, so one step would be about 16 inches (assuming a normal walking pattern), which means you take about 4,000 steps to walk a mile. So if your goal is 10,000 steps per day, you will walk about 2 miles per day. If you consistently hit that 10,000-step mark, you are considered moderately active.

But what about the people who frequently take less than 5,000 steps per day? People in this group are considered sedentary. A drastic increase in steps can lead to many people quitting shortly after starting. People looking to increase their daily steps should look to add about 500 to 1,000 steps per day and increase at this rate every week until they hit their goal. So if you currently take 5,000 steps a day and you are increasing your steps by 1,000 per day per week, it will take you 5 weeks to hit your 10,000-step goal.

How to Walk More Steps

So where can you find these hidden steps, you ask? Here are a few activities you can adjust to add extra steps:

  • Parking farther back in parking lots: Parking an additional 20 spaces back equals about 200 steps round trip.
  • Getting up to change the channel: Changing channels 6 times per day equals about 60 steps total.
  • Walking to consult a coworker as opposed to calling them: Based on 2 round-trips of 60 feet equals about 200 steps.
  • Take the stairs: Taking the stairs causes more caloric expenditure than walking on a flat surface, and one flight equals about 15 steps.
  • Walk your pet: Walking around the block equals about 1,000 steps.

These are easy ways to add a few hundred steps to your day; pick and choose all, one, or something else. The goal is to go at your pace and to do what you like; anything else will just lead to a decline in program adherence until you ultimately quit. The steps you need are all around you, and if you look hard enough I guarantee you can find the time and energy to take an extra step.

Topics: employee health walking employee wellness fitness healthy habits staying active physical activity counting steps

Top 5 things to avoid when building a fitness center for senior living communities

senior fitnessWe work on a lot of build/design projects in retirement communities where the project is either new construction for a new community, or the plan is part of a repositioning that includes enhanced wellness spaces and services.   I’ve got two communities on my desk currently where we’re helping to map out their fitness center and related spaces.

If you follow industry trends, you see it all the time in press releases, RSS feeds and other media avenues:  ground breakings for projects that include a state-of-the-art wellness wing, indoor/outdoor pool complex, etc.  Communities are getting serious about folding resident wellness into their broader business strategy to remain viable in the market.

Over my years at NIFS, I’ve had the pleasure of working on more than 20 different types of fitness center builds.  As you can imagine, I’ve learned quite a bit along the way.  Below are my top five recommendations (in random order) on pitfalls to avoid during your design journey.

#5 – Don’t let your design team talk you out of consulting with an expert who is used to programming fitness spaces. 

You should rely 100% on your architectural team to provide all the elements of the space that speak to code, compliance, overall flow and esthetics as those elements relate to the  broader project goal.  But it’s not reasonable to expect them to understand how your personal trainers and fitness manager will work with your residents in the space.  Unless your architect had a previous career managing a fitness center for an active older adult audience, my hunch (based on my experience) is that he might miss some key elements in the design that would ultimately inhibit the end-user experience.  

#4 –Don’t overlook the value of qualified management for your fitness areas.

There is nothing worse than pouring money into fabulous state-of-the-art digs than to have them sit idle after the grand opening.  We know that senior living fitness centers are not an “if you build it they will come” proposition.  Your resident audience will be expecting support to use the pool, fitness center, and other health-related spaces.  Plan to hire a qualified manager who is dedicated to running this physical dimension of your wellness strategy.  (Note – this is not the same as your fee-for-service personal trainer.)  You’ll be glad you did.

#3 – Don’t assume that what you’re planning for today will fit you tomorrow.

If you follow #5 and #4 above, you’ll be quite pleased with how well-utilized the exercise programs are in your community.  And it won’t be long before you need to add another treadmill, a mat table, or another piece of equipment.  If you design with growth in mind, you’ll be able to do some subtle shifting of existing equipment to make new pieces fit.  Similarly, if you anticipate that the space and services will quickly become wildly popular, you may need to add staffing.  Planning for additional staff workspace is also essential.

#2 – Don’t get swept up by a sales pitch from an equipment vendor. 

Exercise equipment comes in a lot of shapes and sizes – it is not one size fits all.  Treadmills can vary widely on the marketplace in terms of features, cost, warranty, and ease of use.  Do your homework (or hire someone to help you) and avoid being swayed by the sales pitches from equipment retailers.  All of them will put together a layout for you at “no extra cost”.  All of them will tell you they’ve been in the active aging market for decades.  All of them will tell you that they have the best science behind their product.  It’s a very buyer beware market.

#1 – Don’t get tunnel vision on what a quality fitness program (bricks and mortar + management) can do for your residents and the greater community. 

Expand your vision of what’s possible in the space.  If you can dream big on this project, you’ll be able to anticipate where the market is headed for resident wellness.  Do you have an opportunity to capitalize on your local neighbors for some revenue by opening up your fitness center and services to the 55+ community who does not yet live on your campus?  Can you see a path to combine therapy and wellness in your new space where the transition of care is seamless for your residents?  How do you need to design the space to support these concepts as part of your future?  Think about separate entrances, equipment, user privacy needs, data lines and medical records storage.  What has to be in place for your dream space to become a reality and potentially a new best practice in resident fitness programming?

It can be both exciting and daunting to embark on a substantial construction project.  Getting the right stakeholders to the design table early will help you carefully navigate some of the common pitfalls I noted above.  If you’ve “been there” and “done that”, share your tips below.  If you’re about to embark on this kind of project and you’d like to learn more about the key elements of fitness center design, download our Build Vitality eBook.

Download our eBook: Build Vitality In Your Community

 

 

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior center solutions CCRC fitness center staying active

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

free workout fridayAre you ready to make a change in your life? Have you been busy with a career or raising a family and put working out on the back burner? Most people’s activity level tends to significantly decrease in their 30s and 40s, and it only continues from there. It’s time to focus on you and spend just a few minutes each day doing something for yourself.

I understand this is easier said than done, so I’ve created a workout to get you started that can be done in your own home with no equipment required. All you need is an open space on the floor. This workout is designed to be challenging but not impossible. Do what you can and work your way up to going through it all, and eventually go through it twice!  View the video for a brief demonstration for the exercises in the workout below.

Beginner cardio circuit workout:

  • 1 minute straight leg kicks (travel as you do them if you have the space; otherwise do them stationary)
  • 1 minute high knees (travel if you have the space; otherwise do them stationary)
  • 1 minute walking or stationary (alternating legs) lunges
  • 1 minute recover/rest
  • 1 minute skater lunges
  • 1 minute mountain climbers
  • 30 seconds split jumps
  • 30 seconds froggers
  • 1 minute recover/rest
  • 30 seconds modified push-ups
  • 1 minute lateral hops (feet together)
  • 1 minute forward and back hops
  • 30 seconds modified push-ups
  • 30 seconds knee tucks
  • 1 minute recover/rest
  • 30 seconds center plank (modified if need be)
  • 30 seconds side plank (modified if need be) on each side
  • 30 seconds center plank (modified if need be)
  • 1 minute straight leg kicks (traveling or stationary)

This workout can be done with modifications or added intensity if you are up for the challenge! This is intended to be done two to three times a week in combination with other forms of physical activity and a healthy diet. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and stretch at the end of every workout.

Topics: corporate fitness exercise at home Free Workout Friday cardio staying active