Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

NIFS Fitness Management: 12 Days of Wellness

December calendarThe holidays are in full swing and everyone is singing about jingling bells, and Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen,  Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blizten, and Rudolph of course.  Another reoccurring song or tradition that has become a part of our culture in various ways is the 12 Days of Christmas.  We see it on TV with 12 Days of Giveaways, our staff did 12 Days of Fitness via Instagram, and all over Facebook there have been 12 days of something or another where companies thank you for supporting them by offering contests throughout the 12 days. 

This got me thinking about how we jump on that wagon, easy enough… we are going to offer the 12 Days of Wellness.  So I set out to ask around the office, when do the 12 Days of Christmas occur?  Most people, including myself thought “around the 13th or 14th?”, 12 days out from Christmas.   Doh, I’ll just google it. Here I thought I’d engage people, because that’s what we are good at, engaging your residents in your senior living communities or your corporate wellness members and strike up a conversation.   I could have gotten the answer right away if I just Googled it. 

If you haven’t Googled it yourself, in general you would find that the 12 Days of Christmas actually begins on Christmas and carries on for 12 days ending on January 5.  If you need a more detailed explanation, I recommend you Google it for yourself as it does vary between beliefs.

Back to me jumping on the band wagon to celebrate 12 days…  Join us via our Facebook page or Twitter for the 12 Days of Wellness starting tomorrow.  As we head into the New Year and establish those dreadful resolutions, take into account more than just the typical exercise more, lose 10 pounds, eat better.  There are more aspects to your overall wellness that will help you lead a healthier life.  Subscribe to our blog, we have some new authors from our staff in 2014 along with some great programs to share with you in our NIFS Best Practices series where we will feature some of our most successful programs in both Corporate Fitness settings and Active Aging communities.

Enjoy the holiday season and our 12 Days of Wellness!

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Topics: corporate fitness corporate wellness active aging nifs fitness management 12 Days of Christmas 12 Days of Wellness senior living community

NIFS: Staying Healthy through the Holidays

mom and child handwashing resized 600With parties in full swing and family gatherings next week, the last thing you want to be is SICK!  Tis’ the season for sneezing and wheezing.  When you aren’t feeling 100% and you cough or sneeze, those germs float into the air and spread to the next person.  Take these steps to help prevent the sharing of germs so you can share gifts instead!

  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, if you can’t get a tissue in time cough into your elbow instead of your hands!

  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes where germs invade your system! 

  • Wash your hands often; your best option is with warm water and soap.  The most effective way to prevent the spread of germs is by washing your hands to kill those germs.

Hand washing 101... be smart about washing your hands.  Here are a few tips for when it’s important to be sure you are thoroughly scrubbing those hands between your fingers, backs of hands and your wrists!

Wash Hands Before:

Eating and preparing meals

When caring for an injured or sick person

Inserting or removing contact lenses

Wash Hands After:

Preparing food, especially raw meat

Changing diapers or using the bathroom

Taking care of animals

Handling garbage and cleaners

Use of Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizer:

Choose those that contain 60% alcohol

Apply enough to cover hands completely

Rub hands together until dry

Have your family adopt these simple hand washing habits to help limit the transfer of bacteria and viruses to lessen your chances of being sick this holiday season!  

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Topics: health nifs fitness management employee health and wellness hand washing

Corporate Wellness: Of the People, By the People, and For the People

What’s happening in corporate wellness programs right now could be characterized as something of a revolt. Well, revolt might be a little dramatic (don’t think Arab Spring), but perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that those who are the target of carrot/stick employee wellness strategies are pushing back.

They’re pushing back on what has been conventional wisdom for a while: that health-risk assessments and biometric screenings are central (dare I say foundational?) to a sound, data-driven corporate wellness initiative. Employees are pushing back on penalties for not playing, and they’re pushing back on programs that brand failure for anyone who doesn’t achieve arbitrarily selected thresholds for biometric markers. They’re growing intolerant of workplace cultural norms that scream hypocrisy in the face of company wellness policies.  

As someone involved in the world of corporate health, you’d think I would land squarely on the side of gathering the data and using it to capture ROI. But I don’t; it’s just not that black and white.

Why All the Numbers All of the Time?

What I’m seeing in the industry is that corporate wellness providers bow to the number-focus of the CFO or the CEO and communicate in ROI-speak that uses words and phrases like engagement and human capital. To the untrained eye, you’d think “engagement” and “human capital” would have something to do with…well, humans. But it turns out, most of the time they have more to do with participation quotas, biometric thresholds, and productivity benchmarks than with the actual people who need tools, resources, and support to make healthier choices.

Wellness vendors position and market themselves by spouting figures and “facts” (and I use that word loosely), quoting studies and experts (should I use that word loosely, too?). They put into print ridiculous statistics that have ridiculous consequences—all in the name of numbers, data, and ROI.

Raise Your Hand If You Launched a Career in Corporate Wellness to Calculate ROI.

Accountants are passionate about numbers. Fitness specialists are passionate about people. Seriously, most of us got into this business because we were passionate about forming relationships with people so that they would trust we had their best interest in mind when we suggested resources that would help them make healthier choices. As an industry, we’ve largely forgotten our roots, which grew from wanting to help people.

So who’s to blame? Maybe this isn’t the CEO’s fault; maybe it’s just the way of the world. Maybe it’s the almighty dollar we should be blaming. (I predict a comment that blames the government.) Who knows, maybe it’s my fault. I don’t know where the blame goes, but I don’t think it really matters at this point. We’ve simply swung the pendulum too far onto the numbers side of the equation and we forgot about the people.

You know, the people—the individuals who have complicated, busy, overwhelming and typically unhealthy lives. Like the 56-year-old woman with high blood pressure and back pain who is raising her grandchildren and who has no time to take care of herself. Or the single working parent who works by day, goes to school by night, and who is doing everything he can to ensure his daughter has a better life. He struggles to find time to grocery shop, not to mention cook a meal. And then there’s the hourly call center employee who feels hovered-over by her supervisor, who smokes (though she wants to quit but isn’t sure where to start), and who is pregnant with her first child.

These Employees Need Our Help.

They need a relationship with a wellness professional who cares more about the individual accomplishments of the few than the participation quota of the company. They need someone to stand up and say, “I care about you, and I am here to listen to you, to help you find the tools and resources you need. I’m here to help you celebrate your successes and pick you up when you falter on your path to better health.”

Because at the end of the day, if we don’t move the needle on the health of the individuals, then the corporate strategy means nothing. If the only behavior we incentivize is for people to go get their wellness forms signed so they can “get cash for doing it,” we’ve missed an opportunity.

what's wrong with wellness

Topics: corporate wellness businesses demanding work schedule employee wellness corporate fitness centers; return on investement ROI data collection employee health and wellness

NIFS Fitness Management: Free Workout Friday - Holiday Calorie Burn

free workout fridayIf you are a super shopper and out and about shopping all day getting the best Christmas gifts, you are burning some calories as you walk store to store carrying all those shopping bags.  If you are an online shopper, you’re missing out.  Set up a standing ordering station with your computer so you are at least up on your feet!!!  If you prefer to stay at home whether it’s to online shop or simply stay in due to weather here are a few exercises that could help you get that workout in without leaving the comfort of your home! 

Don’t forget, you don’t want to work a cold muscle.  You can warm up simply by marching in place for a few minutes to get your blood pumping and then find some space to complete the following:

25 Jumping Jacks – piece of cake you’ve done these since you were 5.  Don’t cheat yourself and make sure you fully extend your arms over head.

15 Squats – your body weight helps provide resistance.  Be sure to sit your hips back and keep your chest up as you lower into the squat.  As you stand up, drive through your feet and
make sure your knees never go past your toes.

Drop and give me 10 (20 if you are advanced) – strive for 10 pushups; if you need to do a modified push up on your knees get to it! Keep your body in a straight line and lower your upper body toward the floor making sure the hips stay down maintaining that line. Push through your hands, chest and shouldersto push yourself up.

20 Alternating Lunges (10 on each side – cake!) – with hands on hips, step forward with your right foot and lower your body straight down bending both knees keeping your chest and head up making sure to not lean over that front leg.  Keeping your right knee in line with the ankle, push through your foot standing back up in the starting position.  Repeat by stepping forward with your left foot.  If alternating is difficult, do 10 lunges on the right and then switch to the left.

PLANK! – hold the plank position on your forearms or up on your hands like a push up for 30 seconds (strive for more if you can).  Engage your core and maintain that straight line.  Don’t forget to breathe; you never want to hold your breath when performing exercises. 

Repeat these five exercises 3-4 times and then grab that wrapping paper and get busy, I suggest standing at your kitchen table to burn a few extra calories! 

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Why Capturing Corporate Fitness Center ROI Is Like Spotting a Unicorn

unicornFact:

Generating reliable and accurate ROI on a corporate wellness program (I mean the whole thing--biometric screenings, absenteeism, presenteeism, HRA, wellness programming/activities, EAP, etc.) is really, really, really challenging. It requires lots of money, and lots of really smart people who’ve done that kind of work more than once or twice.

Fact:

Piecing out the impact of your corporate fitness center as a standalone element and then determining reliable and accurate ROI from that single piece of your overall strategy is, well, about as likely as spotting a unicorn.

You may be thinking to yourself, “But wait…I just saw an article on ROI for corporate fitness and that said 3:1 or 5:1 or 7:1 returns were possible. What’s with the unicorns and the impossibility of calculating ROI for corporate fitness?” It’s true that there is a continuous stream of articles about wellness ROI, and I suspect that there are business development teams for corporate wellness vendors who are armed to the gills with literature that “proves” why their service/product generates the best ROI for said client.

You see, there’s a lot of posturing in the corporate wellness market. The industry boasts some very powerful vendors--some of whom have the money and smarts to do the work required in order to generate reliable and accurate ROI. The industry also has a lot of other vendors who don’t have those tools, but who are still competing against those who do. Of this second group, there are two types: the vendor who reports ROI that is neither reliable nor accurate (unicorn anyone?), and the vendor who doesn’t report ROI.

Honestly, it’s time for employers to stop beating the ROI drum. (And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Read this article, or this one, or this one.)

ROI is hard to capture because corporate wellness is complex. There are a lot of moving parts, and to date, the industry has not been able to come together on metrics that are consistent. While this is true for most of the agreed-upon elements of a corporate wellness strategy, let’s just pull out corporate fitness to get a sense of the level of complexity we’re dealing with overall.

There are a variety of data points that can be captured for corporate fitness programs:

Membership:

Any vendor worth its salt will have some kind of prescreening process in place that, once completed, will allow the employee to join the fitness center. (Don’t just take my word for it; check out the standards provided by the American College of Sports Medicine in its Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines text.) Some vendors skip this process and everyone is instantly a member because they are employees. So the organization with this process instantly reports higher membership (100%!) than the vendor who requires a responsible process be completed prior to gaining membership.

Fitness assessments:

Field tests to assess the fitness level of a participant are highly variable and the chosen tests can sway the results depending on the population. It’s the nature of a field test; they aren’t as accurate as in the lab.

Visit data:

By now, software to track utilization is widely available at fairly minimal cost. However, if the business isn’t willing to pay for the software, fitness staff are left to track visit data with a manual tally. In either case, software or sign-in sheets, there are issues that can result in significant errors in data collection. Even if we forgive those errors or find a way to account for them, vendors count visit groups differently. “Frequent visitors” might be represented by members with at least one visit per month for vendor A, but vendor B may determine that at least one visit per week is required to achieve “frequent visitor” status.

Mixing those variables quickly creates a lot of inconsistency from one program to the next, making it exceptionally hard to compare apples to apples. Then you have other related data to consider—like gym membership subsidy and how to count employee-users of that benefit against or with your corporate fitness center users. Similarly, how do you capture the value, health benefits, and cost of employees who never step foot in the corporate fitness center but maintain their own exercise regimen at home?

So if your CFO isn’t going to sniff out ROI on your corporate wellness strategy or any of the individual elements like your worksite fitness center, what should you be looking to for data and outcomes you can believe? Rest assured, I’m not suggesting we revert back to all fluff and feel-good for employee wellness. As an alternative to traditional ROI, consider shifting your thinking toward value. To find out more about what I mean, check a two-part blog I wrote about a year ago where I outlined some ways to think about value from your corporate fitness center. You can read part one here and part two here.

If you're looking for how to build the very best corporate fitness center you can for your employees, consider our short webinar series:  The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers.

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers
Topics: corporate fitness corporate fitness centers corporate fitness centers; return on investement corporate fitness managment data ROI data collection