Emily Davenport, on Tue, Apr 30, 2019
NIFS has been partnering with Friendship Village Kalamazoo since 2015, when they opened their beautiful new Wellness Center. We recently heard an uplifting story from FV resident Kim Cummings regarding the impact the health and fitness program has had on his mobility and outlook on life.
Mr. Cummings has been an avid participant since joining the program in 2015, faithfully attending fitness classes two to three times a week and exercising in the Strength & Cardio Studio. NIFS Fitness Manager Alecia Dennis commented, “I love how Kim is always pushing himself to be better and stronger than yesterday. I am thankful that I am able to watch him flourish in all of his fitness endeavors. He truly is an inspiration to me and all of the residents here at Friendship Village!
We know the value our services bring to the residents and communities we serve, but it never gets old (ever) hearing directly from residents like Kim about their journey. Here is Kim’s inspiring story.
I came to Friendship Village regretting my ongoing dependence on a walker and lacking confidence in the Village’s fitness program. After eight months of our actual experience here, my perceptions radically changed. Having become a regular user of the fitness machines, now attending stretch and strength group classes two or three times a week, and now regularly walking our dog on the paved pathways surrounding the Village and its nearby woods, I’ve actually been able to ditch my walker and, though slowly, feel myself gaining additional strength.
I’ve also come to recognize the fitness program’s social function. The group classes, led by our zesty fitness manager, connect me with an ever-larger group of exercisers. None of us is terribly fit, but we all feel good about marching and stretching and pulling together. We just like coming together, grabbing our weights, finding a chair, and chatting with our neighbors. Likewise, when working out on the fitness machines, I find myself connecting with the individual exercising beside me. The machines are fun to work out on—they give one a sense of accomplishment and progress, but they also provide a great opportunity to introduce oneself to others.
A lover of the outdoors, I’ve also come to appreciate the Village’s accessible and attractive walking paths. I’ve particularly enjoyed my recent walks in the Village Woods (where, even in the winter, the paths are kept clear). I love getting to know the many different plantings and benches dedicated to past residents and to see the ongoing work of the Woods volunteers. Last week I spied a flock of migrating robins passing through the Woods and feasting on the crabapples planted along the side. Walking in the Woods reconnects me with nature and with the rich collective heritage of this Village community.
Freed from my walker and gaining strength, I feel that the fitness program and other aspects of Village life have added to my independence, enabling me to get around more easily. At the same time, it helps me get socially connected with other residents and stay connected with nature. I couldn’t ask for more.
Emily Davenport, on Mon, Mar 25, 2019
Clients regularly ask me whether we have any recommendations or contacts for certain exercise equipment, or if we have any successful models in place for collaborating with rehab departments or cafeteria vendors. The bulk of our contacts in the world of fitness are with current clients where we have our professional staff on the ground managing their fitness program, or with consulting clients where we are providing support and resources to enhance their existing program. However, we also have a large network of industry contacts that we partner with, allowing us to (1) provide the quality service we do to our clients and (2) support other businesses outside of a client setting.
Once clients experience the ease of replacing their cardio equipment or launching a multi-vendor wellness initiative with our support, they recognize the added value that expertise brings to the partnership they have with NIFS. I love seeing clients supported on both sides—with our passionate staff on the ground in their fitness center serving their members, as well as with our administrative support helping guide their leadership team’s decision-making on broader facility and program needs.
Read on to learn about the relationships we build and the scope of our reach in supporting clients in 14 states across the US.
While the fitness industry can be full of fads, an ability to build strong relationships is a trend that will never go out of style and is essential for the success of any fitness program. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our clients, members, and vendor partners and love bridging new connections for clients to enhance their programs.
Timothy Parrott, on Mon, Mar 18, 2019
Believe it or not, warm weather has arrived in some parts of the country, and is quickly approaching in others. As the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and nature begins to call, many older adults will be heading out the door for a walk outside. This is a very good thing, and should be encouraged for most people. Some retirement communities may even establish walking groups, which can be an extremely rewarding and fun activity for everyone.
If you plan to start, or join, a walking group near you, this blog is for you! Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare to walk.
If you are responsible for heading up a walking group, keep prescreening in mind. Walking, like any form of exercise, does carry risk. Prescreening is a great tool used in all fitness programs to ensure participant safety, identify risk, and reduce liability of fitness professionals. It is very likely that most people who will want to participate in your walking group will have already been screened during their membership application, and are good to go. However, it is important to make sure everyone in your group has been prescreened and understands the risks involved in exercise prior to joining. This is the first step toward protecting others and yourself.
Before you embark on your first walk as a group, make sure everyone knows where you’re going. If you’re the group leader, be sure to go over the route with your participants before you leave. If you’re a participating member of the walking group, be sure to ask where you’re headed if you don’t already know. By sharing the route with all participants, you’re reducing the chances of anyone getting lost along the way. As the leader, you should also share your planned route with someone who will not be joining you. This way, in the event of an emergency, your group will be accounted for.
Speaking of emergencies, they do happen. Walking is very safe for most people, but health and safety issues can arise quickly. In these cases, it would serve yourself and your group to be prepared. I recommend taking a few important things with you on a walk. If you are a member of the walking group, make sure to bring weather-appropriate clothing, water, and a cell phone with emergency numbers easily accessible. If you are leading the group, I recommend bringing the following:
That last one may sound strange, but it is important for anyone experiencing a health issue or needing to rest on the trail to have the option of sitting down. Benches may not always be available in an emergency situation, so bringing another seating option along with you is a good idea.
Walking groups are a wonderful way to experience nature when the weather finally lightens up. Whether you are leading the group or joining it, be sure to take some precautions. By making sure everyone in your group has been prescreened, you make the walk safer for yourself and others. Planning and sharing your route before you leave reduces the chances of navigation issues, and ensures that your whereabouts are well known. Finally, by bringing along a few key items on your walk, you’ll be much more prepared for an emergency if it should arise. All of this together will make your walking group experience safer and more fun. Enjoy your walk!
Navarrus Hale, on Thu, Mar 14, 2019
The more we age, the less we move, and the more we start to take our health for granted, especially if we have been “healthy” for most of our lives. We often hear about the need to exercise more as we get older, but what about the nutrition aspect? Eating healthy foods is just as important as exercising. There are some good practices and tricks to maintaining a healthy diet and exercising plan as we age.
The first thing you must understand is why it is so important to eat healthier as you age. The number-one benefit is lowering risk of having chronic diseases such as cancer, heart conditions, diabetes, and bone disorders. Exercising and healthy eating work together, especially when talking about weight management.
Individuality is a key component, and it’s very touchy when talking about exercise and the nutrition that goes with that because everyone responds to certain foods and exercise differently. Talking to a medical professional about a healthy weight based on age is a good starting point.
The best and worst part of nutrition is deciding what foods to eat and which ones you will need to avoid from now on. The more we age, the more our plates should look like a salad bowl rather than an egg carton. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk, seafood, and lean meats are all good food sources to consider when taking a better approach to healthy eating. Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar, salt, and butter, and fewer nutrients.
Before thinking about a healthy exercise plan, understand that you do not need to eat as much as you did when you were younger. Portion control is very real and can be the deciding factor when it comes to gaining or losing weight. Tips for avoiding overeating include
Aging happens every day, so take a step back and evaluate what needs your body has when it comes to physical activity. The first step of being active is talking to a physician about precautions you should take, especially if it has been a while since your last physical activity session. Aerobic endurance, resistance training, and balance should be the focus when it comes to being active and aging. The ACSM guidelines for adults and aerobic endurance is at least 150 minutes of moderate activity. Older adults should strive for at least 2 days of strengthening their muscles, and they should practice improvements on balance at least 3 days a week.
Physical activity does not have to be in a fitness center; finding something to enjoy is the key, such as corn toss, pickleball, shuffleboard, water aerobics, Tai Chi, yoga, or pool volleyball. Of course a balance class also helps meet goals for active older adults who are driven to exercise.
Aging can be challenging and unpredictable, but with both healthy eating and exercise, it can be easier and more fun.
Aislinn Stephens, on Mon, Mar 11, 2019
With the weather changing for the better and the days becoming longer, this is as good of a time as any to get the family up and moving. It has been a long winter, and most of us have fallen into boring routines of being indoors binge watching Netflix or playing video games to stay out of the cold. Finally, spring is here, so it’s time to break those boring routines and switch it up!
Motivating the family to be healthier can seem like a challenge. Some tricks I use to get my family back outside is just starting small. It could be walking the dog around the block. If that seems more like a chore, try making a trip to the park. Play with the kids on the playground or find trails to walk. Bike rides and participating in local 5K run/walk events can also be a great way to get the family back up and moving after long, dreary days!
Getting the family to take a healthier approach is not just about physical activity; think of nutrition as well. This is a great time to restock the fridge with some of your favorite fruits and vegetables because most likely they are fresh and in season right about now. Fresh fruit and cold-cut vegetables are great to pack for family gatherings, picnics, and even school lunches. Slow approaches to getting the family into healthier habits gives them time to adjust to the changes and make them habits. A great way to change up their nutrition is trying a new fruit or vegetable at least once a week. This way everyone will be excited to try something different while also finding new foods that are nutritious.
Motivating your family to be healthier does not have to be a challenge. Encourage fun activities that the whole family will enjoy. Starting healthy habits when children are young can help them keep these habits in the future. If not everyone is ready for exercise, try motivating the family to make healthier food choices. Finding common ground can be key to getting the whole family motivated. If one person gets motivated first, it could help fuel the rest of the family’s motivation to be healthier.
Jackie Geib, on Fri, Mar 8, 2019
I keep finding more and more news stories, magazine articles, social media ads, and even store displays that contain the words “Gut Health.” 10 years or more ago, you never heard that phrase anywhere, but now it’s all the rage. So, why all the buzz? Well, it turns out that research has linked gut health to a variety of functions in your body.
Gut Health is basically a generic term referring to a diversity of issues that can occur in the GI tract or digestive system. The GI tract includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. The digestive system includes the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. That’s a large variety of issues and organs for such a small term. “Gut microbiome” is another phrase that goes hand in hand with gut health and refers to the community of bacteria that makes up your digestive system. There are billions of bacteria in your gut microbiome, and much of that bacteria is very beneficial. However, when there is bad bacteria or damage to your microbiome or gut, your body reacts in a negative way.
Some signs of an unhealthy gut include upset stomach (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn), unintentional weight changes, lack of sleep or sleep disturbances, skin conditions or irritations (eczema), autoimmune conditions, or food intolerances. Researchers and physicians are finding more and more conditions that are directly linked to gut health.
Now comes the big question: what do you do? Fortunately there are a lot of ways you can change your gut health. It definitely takes time, but you will notice a difference in how you feel.
Here are some things to do to prevent bad bacteria from forming in your microbiome, and boost those healthy bacteria levels to increase your gut health. Even if you don’t experience any symptoms mentioned above, these are good practices to keep your whole-body health in check:
This is a lot of information, and may even sound overwhelming! However, this is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Much of your body functions based on your gut health. The healthier your gut, the healthier you are in general. I am speaking from experience when I tell you that making the small changes listed above can truly help you feel better and be healthier.
You can read more about gut health here.
Derek Rohrig, on Thu, Feb 14, 2019
Training yourself to do something that feels unnatural is never easy, but it’s also never too late to learn an important skill. Balance is a focal point with our Active Aging population and something our residents are concerned with on a daily basis. Whether it be through designing exercise prescriptions to improve an individual’s balance, leading an educational presentation on aspects of balance, or leading a balance group fitness class, there are countless ways that we as professionals can attempt to help improve someone’s balance.
We recognize the importance of balance because the longer someone can maintain this skill, the longer they are able to remain independent. However, with all of this time, energy, and work dedicated to balance, I notice the same issue coming up consistently: residents are constantly looking down at their feet while they move.
When I moved to Virginia six years ago, I was finally in a place to fulfill a lifetime goal of mine: to own a motorcycle. I had no experience riding, I didn’t grow up around bikes, but I just was always fascinated by them and determined to learn to ride one. I am a cautious person, so before I did anything else, I participated in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation® Basic Rider course at a nearby community college. I learned many things during that course, but one lesson that has always stuck with me is instead of focusing on the road directly in front of your wheel, you should be looking down the road and keeping your eyes up. When you keep your eyes up and your focus ahead of you, you give yourself a valuable tool: time.
This is a lesson I work hard to get my residents to understand. When we walk, looking down at our feet gives us a sense of security that we know exactly where our foot is going to be and what our foot is going to land on, but it comes at a price. When our gaze is down at our feet, we can’t see what’s coming. We give ourselves very little time to identify a trip hazard in our path or to plan a route to avoid uneven or unstable surfaces. Much like riding a motorcycle, when you keep your eyes lifted, you give yourself more time to determine your best route because your brain has more time to process what you are seeing and plan accordingly.
When we know that there are consequences to our actions, we often are very careful with those actions because we know what might result if we are careless. This awareness and concern has had the unfortunate effect of teaching us that we should fear falling and avoid it at all costs, so we look down at our feet. But just like riding a motorcycle, keeping your eyes up and looking well out in front of you may help you avoid obstacles, prepare for any balance challenges, and be safe through fall prevention.
Having been an athlete my entire life, I learned at a very young age that the mindset you bring to a workout is just as important as the workout itself. It doesn’t matter if you have a great workout plan or a great trainer/coach, if you go into a training session with the wrong mindset you will be set up for failure.
I always take multiple steps to bring a positive mindset to my training sessions. Whether it’s loading up an inspiring playlist (a must for a great workout), reading a motivational story, or simply taking the time to appreciate the positives in my life, I use these tools to set myself up for an incredible workout. Find what gets you into a good mood, lock it in, and carry that with you each day to the gym. This small preparation makes a world of difference.
Now that you are in the gym and feeling the good vibes, you are all set for a good session. The only thing left to do now is focus on the task at hand and maximize your training session. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson yelled it best: FOCUS! And boy, does it help (be sure to YouTube his “focus” gym videos. Thank me later).
It is easy to set yourself on autopilot as you go through a workout or group fitness class, but I highly recommend that you don’t! Feel each and every rep and set. Feel what your intensity is doing to your body. Notice the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) signals that your body sends you during a workout. Use this information to make better-informed decisions on how, when, and where you train.
Here is my personal checklist of focal points for each and every workout. Think about these things during your next training session and you will be sure to get an awesome workout you can be proud of.
Be positive, stay focused, and be your best self!
Jarret Mcgahee, on Tue, Jan 22, 2019
Tell me if this has ever happened to you: You are fast asleep in your warm, comfy bed. In the middle of that perfect sleep, you suddenly hear the telephone ringing. So you open your eyes, sit up, and slide your feet into your slippers. At this point, you are in a rush because you are now thinking that it could be an emergency. You take a few steps as quickly as you can to get to the phone, which happens to be all the way across the room. Suddenly, the front of your slipper nicks the carpet and you feel yourself going down and fast.
You reach for something to grab but find nothing to get ahold of, so you throw out your hands to try to stop yourself from hitting the floor too hard. Now you’re lying on the carpet in pain because your hands and arms hurt as well as anywhere else you may have hit your body on the way down.
You then remember how the carpet used to be your friend at a very young age. You recall how you used to love the carpet so deeply that you would fall asleep on it at times. As you got older, the friendship seemed to fizzle out. Over the last few years, it seems as though your old friend has it out for you because every time you come across it, it takes you down—and down hard!
Fear not. There could be a much simpler solution to this problem than avoiding all carpet everywhere. Maybe the problem has more to do with your ankle mobility.
Following are a few examples of exercises that you can do to improve your ankle mobility.
Let us know how your next encounter with that dreadful carpet went by commenting below.
NIFS Fitness Management's programming can also help residents improve their balance with regular exercise. Check out how Balance Redefined is changing residents lives!