Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

3 Tips to Keep Senior Group Fitness Fun and Engaging

GettyImages-828447578In the Active Aging community, group fitness is a large part of a resident’s daily life. Exercising solo and following a written workout plan doesn’t cut it for some residents. They need an extra motivational factor, such as being with a group and having someone instruct them step by step. Having friends around at all times is important to residents. It gives them a sense of security and accomplishment when they look in the mirror and see themselves exercising with close friends in the community.

Here are three ways to keep group fitness class fun and engaging enough for residents to return day after day.

Encourage New Participants

Retaining members in group fitness is simple, but trying to get new people interested is another trick. Establishing a rapport with residents before trying to suggest new things for them to try is a successful tactic. It shows them you care, and you’re not just trying to boost your numbers. Reach out to new residents and set up a tour. Set aside time for questions and concerns regarding the fitness center and how everything operates. Making them feel comfortable in the setting is vital.

Allow Time for Socialization

Class time is precious. Some days we are on a very tight schedule, but encouraging people to arrive to a class 5–10 minutes early can make a difference in the class flow. One way to start the class off on a positive note while allowing for some socialization is to greet all members at the door upon entering. It gives them a feeling of calmness and warmth knowing that their attendance is recognized and appreciated.

Another suggestion is to open the class with a question about a recent event that occurred within the community; for example, a community-wide meeting, a recent bus trip, or last night’s meal or party. (But be careful when asking about the food. That seems to be a hot topic at all communities.) This will allow for some interaction among residents and energize them before the class kicks off.

New residents often do not know many people when coming into a community. If a new resident comes to class, give them a warm welcome by introducing them to the group. Or, if that resident comes off as shy, quietly introduce them to their neighbor. It might turn into dinner plans for that evening!

Vary Exercises and Formats

Here are some ideas of ways to keep things fresh and challenging:

  • Residents love structure and routine. Keep class schedule changes and time alterations to a minimum. Too much change ends up having a negative impact on the group fitness program.
  • Many see the clock strike 10am and know there is a class going on. So, having a different type of class at 10am each day is a good way to give residents a variety of exercise.
  • Keep a routine warm-up and stretch routine in each class. It allows for residents to settle in and limit confusion while getting adjusted.
  • There are so many exercises and creative ways to cue an exercise, so use them to your advantage.
  • A couple different variations or intensity modifications per class is a way to make sure each resident leaves the class feeling challenged. It is tough to find a happy medium between too challenging and too easy because most classes have people with a variety of skill sets in attendance even if the class is noted as “high level.”
  • When providing a new exercise, speak slowly and clearly so that the residents can grasp what you are saying. Giving a brief explanation for the variation or how it will impact their strengths/weakness is also a good way to keep the residents engaged.
  • Constantly teaching new information has been a successful tactic in keeping group fitness classes well attended at some communities.
Topics: active aging participation social wellness resident engagement adding fun to senior fitness improving senior fitness

Corporate Fitness: Welcoming Employees Back to the Fitness Center

GettyImages-1267511601As organizations are planning to reopen their offices in the weeks and months ahead, many questions are swirling around what the new office landscape will look like for both employers and employees. Some organizations are telling their employees if they can work from home full-time, they’d like for them to continue doing so permanently. Others can’t wait to return to normal office operations while also recognizing a hybrid telecommuting model will likely be the outcome.

Whatever that landscape looks like for employers upon reopening, one certainty that is clear is the need to provide flexible wellness program options to accommodate employees wherever they might be working. Last month, I shared some considerations on safety policies when reopening your fitness center. Now, check out these program and service considerations as you welcome back your employees with flexible options!

For your employees returning onsite:

  • Membership Drives & Orientations: if you froze memberships to your onsite corporate fitness center over the past year, hosting a membership drive and general orientation appointments to tour the facility, receive instruction on the different makes/models of equipment, etc., can be a great starting point to help employees take that first step in getting acclimated. If you include payroll deductions for employees to use your space, consider a discount or waiving that fee for an introductory period to encourage as many people as possible to rejoin or join for the first time.
  • Refresher Fitness Classes: you may have some employees who did not exercise as readily over the past year without access to the onsite amenities you provide. Consider offering low intensity “refresh” classes for employees who may feel like they can’t return to the more intense classes they once attended in fear of it being too difficult. For some individuals, the motto of “we are all in this together” also translates to getting back in shape together!

For your employees continuing to work remotely:

  • Provide a Virtual Wellness Platform – much like your onsite fitness center is a hub for programs and services when employees are on campus, provide a web platform your employees can access when working from home or when traveling on business for resources to stay healthy and active. Being able to access virtual fitness classes, request a health coaching appointment, or check out the upcoming healthy living lecture makes it convenient for your employees to stay plugged into your wellness offerings wherever they may be located.
  • Utilize a Virtual Meeting Service: whether you want to stream your onsite fitness classes to employees at home or provide virtual forums for your employees to meet with a health coach to discuss their lifestyle goals, utilizing platforms such as Zoom, Teams, etc., is a great means for your employees to connect face to face with your wellness staff and maintain that personal connection and support in their health journey. Check out our case study on reNew You, an engaging virtual wellness program that our members have raved about this year!

NIFS fitness management is proud to partner with organizations to help them develop a safe reopening strategy with the flexible offerings their employees need to be active. Whether you have an onsite fitness center, you are looking for a virtual wellness program model, or a hybrid of both, for your employees contact NIFS for a complimentary consultation.

Topics: corporate fitness employee wellness corporate fitness programming virtual fitness

Staff High Five: Morgan Garrett

We say it with pride quite regularly, our amazing staff in corporate and senior living fitness centers are what help us serve our clients so well. Their strong educational background in health and fitness helps us set the bar high while their exceptional creativity and relationship building skills allows them to keep their members engaged and asking what’s coming next. Since we have the privilege of getting to know our staff across the country, we thought our followers might like to as well. Join us monthly as we throw a different NIFS team member a High Five.

  • MGarrettName: Morgan Garrett
  • City, State: Scottsdale, AZ
  • Years with NIFS: 9 years
  • Position: Senior Manager
  • What brought you to NIFS: I was wanting a more consistent schedule and to work with a variety of clients.
  • What is the most impactful moment you have shared with a member:  One of my clients let me know that what he looks forward to most now, is our sessions. He feels that they have improved his quality of life in the last few years and is so happy he started working out.
  • What separates a NIFS fitness pro from the rest: The ability to adapt to situations and abilities of clients. To know what is going to work for each client and helping them to achieve their goals.
  • What is your favorite thing about working at your client site: The atmosphere, positivity of each member. I also enjoy the direct management relations at my community.
  • What motivates you: Making the fitness center fun and enjoyable for all levels of care.
  • What is your favorite hobby: I enjoy golfing, hiking and traveling. I also love cooking on the grill and having friends over.

Interested in learning more about our staffing services? Click below for what best fits your needs.

ACTIVE AGING   |   CORPORATE FITNESS

Topics: senior fitness management nifs fitness management staffing nifs staff

Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise

GettyImages-1203934092We already know that exercise is a key contributor to a healthy lifestyle overall, but for those with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) this is no exception! In fact, exercise is extremely critical for people with PD, and research shows that participating in an exercise program can not only help to maintain balance and mobility, but can also slow the progression of the disease, and improve many of its symptoms! Establishing an exercise routine early on in diagnosis is key for PD management, but for any fitness level or disease stage, just getting up and moving is helpful.

Common symptoms of PD include tremors, rigidity, slowed movement, and balance and coordination impairment. Those symptoms coupled with the fatigue, muscle weakness and low power that people with PD frequently exhibit have the power to greatly affect day to day life, but they don’t have to.

It is recommended by The American College of Sports Medicine and The Parkinson’s Foundation that individuals with PD participate in 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week. For the greatest benefit, exercise should be intentional, and you should look to include cardiovascular endurance, strength/resistance, balance, and flexibility exercises into a training program. Together, these modalities create a comprehensive fitness regimen and will help reduce the risk of falling and improve the ability to perform activities of daily life – like getting dressed, reaching for an object, or standing up from a chair.

Where to Start:

  • Safety First! Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Pick exercises that you will enjoy! It doesn’t matter how “great” your program is if you don’t plan to stick to it. The most important thing is to make sure you exercise regularly, so try to have a little fun while you’re at it!
  • Consider joining a group exercise class! Joining in on Parkinson’s specific classes will offer you added motivation, support and socialization with others who also have PD. Additionally, you will receive instruction and any necessary modifications from trained experts.
  • Exercise at an intensity that feels like a challenge.

Still unsure of how to start exercising with Parkinson’s Disease? Starting, or restarting, an exercise program alone can be intimidating, and with PD requiring some special considerations it can be even more difficult to truly know where to begin. There are numerous benefits associated with working with a qualified fitness professional – ideally a fitness professional who has an educational background and experience working with PD – that span far beyond added motivation and accountability. Working with an educated and credentialed professional is essential in properly progressing exercises, reducing risk of injury, and maximizing effectiveness for all individuals, but especially those with unique needs. Qualified professionals can not only advise you on where and how to start, but will also be able to progress you accordingly, and adapt your exercise program to meet your individual needs. They will be able check and correct your form, while also educating you on which muscles are being targeted, and why that is important in maintenance and slowing of your PD progression so that you can continue to perform daily tasks and activities.

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Topics: active aging senior fitness improving senior fitness Parkinson's Disease

Staff High Five: Jordan Watson

We say it with pride quite regularly, our amazing staff in corporate and senior living fitness centers are what help us serve our clients so well. Their strong educational background in health and fitness helps us set the bar high while their exceptional creativity and relationship building skills allows them to keep their members engaged and asking what’s coming next. Since we have the privilege of getting to know our staff across the country, we thought our followers might like to as well. Join us monthly as we throw a different NIFS team member a High Five.

  • Name: Jordan WatsonJWatson
  • City, State: Harrisburg, PA
  • Years with NIFS: 3.5 years
  • Position: Fitness Center Manager
  • What brought you to NIFS: I was looking for professional growth within the fitness industry and NIFS provided an opportunity for growth with the flexibility and support for creativity. I felt that NIFS as an organization provides tremendous support for their staff to better serve the clients.
  • What is the most impactful moment you have shared with a member: There was one member who was a college-athlete. She used to run track, and her alma mater was putting together an alumni track and field event.  In a group fitness class, she mentioned that she was training for the event and was nervous to compete.  I offered to do an ExRx with her to focus her training and help her feel confident enough to compete.  I’m passionate about sports and I also ran used to run track so I was excited to help her on her quest.  The event was canceled just days before, which was disappointing, but the member made sure to come back to me and express her appreciation for my help.
  • What separates a NIFS fitness pro from the rest: I think what separates a NIFS fitness pro is the educational resources. With passionate and certified fitness professionals, we are able to provide our clients with the education and tools they need to succeed now and in the future. Not just encourage lifestyle changes but educate on how to achieve positive change.
  • What is your favorite thing about working at your client site: My favorite thing about working at my client site is the level of care the client has for their employees’ health and wellness. They value our expertise and trust us to perform our duties, which makes it easier for us to have a positive impact on our members.  We coordinate with other departments on a variety of health and wellness related events. The client really shows that their employees’ health and wellness is a priority.
  • What motivates you: What motivates me is knowing I’m making a difference.  Not my success story, but hearing our member’s success stories and watching them make positive strides in their health.  Just knowing that what I am doing has an impact on someone else motivates me.
  • What is your favorite hobby: My favorite hobby is just being around my kids. Running with them, playing games.  The more active they are becoming, the happier I am.

Interested in learning more about our staffing services? Click below for what best fits your needs.

ACTIVE AGING   |   CORPORATE FITNESS

Topics: nifs fitness management staffing nifs staff

Step Your Way Through July to Prove YOU Move with NIFS

July Prove You MoveThis month our corporate members are encouraged to pick a goal of 5,000 or 10,000 steps per day to kick of July’s Prove YOU Move Fitness Challenge. Some people cringe at the thought of 10,000 steps per day, but it isn’t just intentional exercise. Have you ever considered how many steps you actually take in a given day? How often are you moving throughout the office or your house? You might actually surprise yourself. Most phones have a Health App, or you can add a step tracker to your smart phone. If you keep your phone on your body throughout the day, it will calculate your movement and track your steps. As you start digging into your phone, don’t get down on yourself when you discover how little you possibly move, remember your phone must be on your body throughout the day to get the best estimate.

Increasing your daily step count and simply moving more by walking has many health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at why you should Prove YOU Move this month.

  • Heart Health: Moving more of course improves heart health, but did you know it can decrease your risk of heart disease by 20%?
  • No Gym Required: Moving your body by walking is FREE! No gym membership required. Step outside and go!
  • Burn Calories: Many factors come into play like walking pace, distance, and your weight, but moving your body burns calories more than binge watching your favorite shows.
  • Boost Your Mood: Stepping outside and taking in your surroundings helps get your mind off any negative thoughts or situations. Decrease stress in your day by walking.
  • Tone Muscles: Walking is a great way to increase muscle tone. Choose a pace that makes your heart rate increase. Use your arms as you walk and get the most out of those steps. As you complete your walk, you may find you enjoy the lingering tingle in your muscles.
  • Increase Energy: Walking helps increase oxygen flow in your body which helps increase cortisol and epinephrine levels that increase energy. You may not need so much coffee after all.
  • Be Social: How often do you cross paths with a neighbor when out for a walk after dinner or a stranger when walking through the office. A simple hello and smile can not only boost your mood, but make your day or someone else’s simply by being kind.

How much should you move?

A general rule of thumb is 150 minutes of physical activity per week for adults; that is 30 minutes a day! There are about 2,000 steps in a mile, so if you can squeeze in 1.5 miles in 30 minutes you are almost to that 5,000 steps a day goal! Keep in mind that is only considering intentional movement. Here are other ways to increase steps throughout the day.

  • Instead of scrolling social media during your lunch break, go for a walk after you eat. This can also help aid in digestion.
  • Schedule that meeting as a walking meeting. Boost your creativity with your team by taking the meeting on foot.
  • Park further away. Rather than taking that closer spot, park further away or higher up in the parking garage.
  • No elevator needed, take the stairs!
  • Kids have practice? Just say no to bleacher butt, walk around the field.

Eager to see where you stand in the daily step count? Head over to our NIFS Fitness Management Facebook Page and join us by sharing your step goal this month. We’d love to see how you move more this July! Tag us using @NIFSFitnessManagement and #NIFSProveYOUMove!

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Topics: corporate fitness programming incentives exercise habit setting exercise goals

Staff High Five: Mike Hertzler

We say it with pride quite regularly, our amazing staff in corporate and senior living fitness centers are what help us serve our clients so well. Their strong educational background in health and fitness helps us set the bar high while their exceptional creativity and relationship building skills allows them to keep their members engaged and asking what’s coming next. Since we have the privilege of getting to know our staff across the country, we thought our followers might like to as well. Join us monthly as we throw a different NIFS team member a High Five.

  • MHertzlerName: Mike Hertzler
  • City, State: Richmond, VA
  • Years with NIFS: 3 months
  • Position: Fitness and Vibrance Director
  • What brought you to NIFS: I was attracted to the opportunity with NIFS because of the resources, the team and evidence-based training. I also wanted to continue to enrich the lives of older adults, using my background, experience, and skillset.
  • What is the most impactful moment you have shared with a member:  Nothing encourages me more than to see a resident or team member work through a tough life event and change their life. It is by far my favorite part of my career; is seeing their progress and quality of life changing as a result. More recently, I filled in for a program, and 4 of the participants in the class were new to the program. And I spoke with one of their spouses soon after the class finished, and she says, “That’s the happiest I’ve seen my husband in years!” Moments like that never get old to me!
  • What separates a NIFS fitness pro from the rest:  NIFS requires the highest level of creativity, as well as comes with a large support system/network, program incentives, and resources right at your fingertips. It’s amazing! I enjoy the open dialogue with our team, balance of structure, and autonomy NIFS provides me. NIFS also requires a high level of education, experience, and specialized certifications while working with the older adult population.  
  • What is your favorite thing about working at your client site: I truly enjoy working with older adults! I didn’t know exactly where my education and career would take me, but I’m sure glad it brought me here. There’s something special about working in a retirement community setting, and the relationships you form. I learn just as much from the residents, and I’ve made a lot of new friends along the way.
  • What motivates you:  By helping others, and doing things for other people. I’m also motivated to be the best friend, leader, husband, and father one day that I can be.  
  • What is your favorite hobby:  I love being outdoors, camping, hiking, boating, and exploring new areas. I think if it were possible, I would spend all day outside!

Interested in learning more about our staffing services? Click below for what best fits your needs.

ACTIVE AGING   |   CORPORATE FITNESS

Topics: nifs fitness management staffing nifs staff

The Health Benefits of Being Outdoors

GettyImages-1189775053Every Sunday, I make a cup of coffee and head outside. I often just sit and listen to the sounds all around me. I take it all in. Even now I can feel the sun on my face, sense the gentle breeze, the sound and feel of the chair as it gently rocks back and forth. It is so easy for me to close my eyes and bring myself right back to that moment whenever I need to. There is something about being outdoors that feels so important to me. Every experience in my life seems more fulfilling while I am doing it outdoors.

For example, I love running outdoors. If you ask me to run on the treadmill, I have more of an attitude of I will do it because I know it is good for me, and not so much because I love it. The same goes for swimming. Put me in the ocean and I am in my glory but the same does not seem to exist for me when it comes to jumping into an indoor pool.

There have been studies that talk about the health benefits of being outdoors and perhaps these studies can more definitively describe the feelings and benefits most human beings experience when they are outdoors.

Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

It's not clear exactly why outdoor excursions have such a positive mental effect. Yet, in a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.

"When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts," says Dr. Strauss.

Digging a bit deeper, it appears that interacting with natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits. For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body's fight-or-flight response.

The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing effect, according to Dr. Strauss. "Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry".

As the weather changes and summer begins to roll back in, find ways to get back outside and enjoy the outdoors. The no cost key to living a happier, healthier life.

Topics: senior wellness mental health outdoor exercise

Staff High Five: Brian DuVall

We say it with pride quite regularly, our amazing staff in corporate and senior living fitness centers are what help us serve our clients so well. Their strong educational background in health and fitness helps us set the bar high while their exceptional creativity and relationship building skills allows them to keep their members engaged and asking what’s coming next. Since we have the privilege of getting to know our staff across the country, we thought our followers might like to as well. Join us monthly as we throw a different NIFS team member a High Five.

  • BDuVallName: Brian DuVall
  • City, State: Carmel, IN
  • Years with NIFS: a little over 2 years
  • Position: Marketing Graphic Designer
  • What brought you to NIFS: After 10 years at my previous job, I felt I needed a change, but spent a few months doing freelance. I realized I still liked working downtown and being in this area, so when the position opened up I was thrilled.
  • What have you learned about NIFS programs and services for our clients: Working with Emily, Kara and Ashley, I understand the need for fitness not only in the professional field, but in retirement and beyond. My previous employment, I really didn’t have time, or should I say, felt I had time for fitness. Here I am blessed to be around it all day and can take an hour out of my day to walk two flights of stairs to the fitness center. I wish I had the programs NIFS corporate and active aging offers when I was ten years younger! And of course, having parents and in-laws who are retired, and seeing that they either aren’t active or active enough, makes me feel happy to hear the positive effects our programs have on the community, and possibly have a hand in making that possible. And, hopefully, after we get back to some sort of new normal, be in a position to reach more communities with newer programs that I had a hand in making possible.
  • What do you enjoy most about supporting NIFS staff and clients with your graphic design work: I really feel like it’s to help people in my own creative way, to solve problems. I dabble in fine art from time to time but not a creative person in the purest sense. More of a mechanical/graphical/literal type.
  • What motivates you: Continuing from the previous question, when someone presents me with a challenge, I enjoy trying to figure it out, and when I feel a really good idea hit, the blinders come on and I can’t think about anything else.
  • What is your favorite hobby: I have a few. Kids activities take up a lot of my time, but most of the time if I have a free moment, I like to play guitar. Also, ever since working here, you can feel the need to stay fit, so along with working out during lunch here at NIFS.

Interested in learning more about our staffing services? Click below for what best fits your needs.

ACTIVE AGING   |   CORPORATE FITNESS

Topics: nifs staff

Residents Seek Quality Senior Living Fitness Programs

GettyImages-674714126 (1)I recently had a resident from one of our client sites in Illinois contact me wanting to know which senior living communities in greater-Indianapolis NIFS was partnered with as she would soon be relocating to be closer to her daughter. She wanted to refine her search to communities where NIFS was similarly providing a robust health and fitness program to what she had come to experience in her current community. She had done some exploring on her own and quickly recognized that communities simply having an onsite fitness center with some weekly exercise classes did not measure up for her.

Think about that for just a minute, she was making visits to communities and spending time on websites; a fitness center walk-thru during a tour or clicking on some pictures of amenities on a website were not showing her enough. This informed consumer understood the value and distinction of a professionally managed fitness program and she wanted to narrow her focus to where she knows NIFS helps communities deliver on their brand promise of supporting residents in living well. A couple of observations on her part that she loved about her NIFS program:

  • Amazing Staff: she commented on how much she enjoys and appreciates the knowledgeable and degreed NIFS staff at her community. She shared how much she valued the relationship with the staff and the creative and engaging ways they keep her motivated.
  • Robust Programming: she loves a good challenge and finds that NIFS exercise challenges, incentives and educational programs keep her motivated. She likes the regular schedule of NIFS initiatives and is always asking what’s next!

Community leadership or life enrichment staff in senior living communities might not even see the distinction the way this resident does. After all, fitness is only component of an overall wellness program and/or community to operate. Or perhaps you are thinking other seniors wouldn’t make such an astute observation in a fitness program.

When NIFS first begins staffing services at a community and offering creative programs to engage residents, one of the common pieces of feedback we hear from clients is, “We didn’t even know what we were missing or that you would be able to get as many different residents engaged.” They knew they wanted to do better when bringing us in, but how quickly we’d make an impact regularly takes them by surprise. It’s always one of our favorite moments in a client relationship!

Here are a couple of examples of that program growth at NIFS client locations:

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In particular, take a look at the Total Members, Classes Offered/Month and Class Participants/Month. There are not a significant number of new classes added to the calendar at either community but through our ability to recruit and engage more residents in the fitness program, overall class participation increased by 46% across these two communities. If you think your group fitness participation is strong now, how would it look with an increase of almost 50%? What about a 34% increase in the number of one-on-one appointments conducted during the month? What kind of message would that participation convey to current and prospective residents? Is that a distinction your community needs?

This holds true with many residents as well. Once they see and experience the distinction, the fitness program becomes one of their biggest areas of pride in the community and something they vocally champion to visitors, guests and family members. Over a decade ago when I was still managing a NIFS fitness center, it was always interesting to hear the oohs and ahhs of guests of residents who joined them for a class or came into the fitness center to exercise with them. They would often tell me how it compared to the fitness center in the community in which they lived or in comparison to the resources available to them aging in place at home. Again, they had to experience it to see the distinction.

Perhaps it’s time to evaluate the quality of your wellness program to discover opportunities for your community to create distinction in the active lifestyle of your residents. It may also be time to consider your marketing message and how you are positioning your fitness program with prospects.

Evaluate the quality of your wellness program, download our quick read below!

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Topics: senior fitness resident wellness programs resident fitness improving senior fitness