Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

What Happens When We Make Purposeful Living the Heart of Life Enrichment Programming

senior_woman_balancing.jpgLet's see if this sounds familiar:

  • Your residents love the life enrichment staff.
  • Residents sometimes complain that there are too many things on the calendar; they can't attend everything they want to.
  • Your life enrichment director routinely reports how lively and engaged the resident wellness committee is but you don't have real data to back this up.

These are "benchmarks" we've used for years to determine when activities are going well in the community. In 2018, those benchmarks are only status quo, and we are well into an era where leadership must begin looking carefully at how resources are being allocated for life enrichment (including the fitness program).

[Read More: How to give resident wellness programs a fresh look]

Activities Directors as Order Takers

Activity Directors (or Life Enrichment Directors, or Wellness Directors...you pick) are busy like all the other personnel in your community. They are at the heart of every community's bustling events calendar by performing a delicate balancing act every month taking “orders” (requests) from residents and the community all while juggling existing and long-standing calendar events (Do not mess with the card player’s schedule). The programming is delicately placed on the calendar and carefully scheduled with typically limited space inside the community, and tightly booked transportation to areas outside of the community. 

Sometimes the influx of requests from residents alone can fill a whole month. And sometimes the calls from outside the four walls of the community require booking out months in advance because the programming is so tight. It is indeed wonderful to have so many things to do in one senior living arena. 

But a busy calendar isn't the same thing as a calendar built on resident purpose. And there are limitations to your Activities Director serving as an order taker. While many community leaders lay an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" label over activities simply because the resident's aren't balking at their options, those organizations are leaving quite a bit on the table in terms of building truly purposeful living for their residents.    

Residents Do Not Want to be Entertained

You see, residents in your community aren’t looking solely to be entertained.  After all, your community is not The Love Boat with your Director filling the role of Julie. Instead, residents are looking for purposeful living in a setting where some of the barriers that used to get in the way, like home maintenance, have been removed. They’re looking for opportunities to contribute, to grow, and to connect in new and challenging ways. 

The order taker model only meets the needs of the vocal minority. Those who sit on the committee or who speak up are more likely to have their interest pursued. However, over the years, I have observed that senior living activities seem to fall into the Pareto Principle where twenty percent of the population consumes eighty percent of the resources. I guarantee there are residents who don’t participate because you haven’t tapped their interest or desires yet.  

[Read More: Top 5 reasons your resident's don't engage in wellness]

If your Activities Director moved away from taking orders, could the calendar hold more intentional opportunities for residents to engage in the community lifestyle programming?  Would more of your residents be involved in the offerings because of the thoughtful approach to a variety of interests represented by your diverse audience? This shift in how an Activity Director does business requires a change in focus; instead of using the meeting minutes from the monthly committee minute as a to do list, the activities team needs to start thinking strategically about how to engage a variety of stakeholders in the planning process for resident events and activities.

Change for the Sake of Doing Better

Most of us aren't big fans of change, but change for the sake of doing better provides meaning to the difficult decisions that lie ahead. Suggesting a fresh approach to how the calendar is organized, who is supporting events, how events are developed, and how success is measured will help the activities team start to see what "better" looks like. (Note, "better" doesn't mean turning all of the programming on its head. We do not need your residents in an uproar over substantial changes to beloved activities.)

That said, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when you’re trying to change an approach or a process. Our Build Vitality webinar series (which covers branding, staff, program, and fitness center design) is a good resource. If you’d like a more hands on approach, consider bringing NIFS onsite for consulting to help you chart a course to build a multidimensional activities calendar that cultivates purpose for your residents.

find out more about consulting

Topics: wellness for seniors senior living status quo senior living activities purposeful living

Preparing for Your First Obstacle Race

Signing up for a Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race can seem like a daunting task at first glance. You often hear of these races and envision many mileWoman_PushUps-1.jpgs of treacherous landscape and countless obstacles to push you to your limits. Some people jump right into a challenge like this.  But if you're on the fence about signing up because you're not sure if you're ready, you're not alone. While it is typical to feel a little anxious before a race (I did!), I am here to provide you with some tips that I gave my group fitness team, and that I also used myself for my first obstacle race that made it an awesome experience! It is my hope that after reading this, you will make it a goal to sign up for one race in 2018 if you haven’t participated before. You won’t regret it and you will have a blast doing it! Here we go with some some race tips.  

Don’t Run Against the Clock!

Did I say that loud enough? Good. A common concern for people leading up to an obstacle event is whether or not you are fast enough to participate.  “What does my mile time have to be to enter?” or “I don’t want to get last place so I don’t think I should sign up.” These were thoughts I heard many times leading up to our runs. It is important to know that these runs are about the journey and having fun while you do it. You should complete them for you and nobody else. While there are often “competitive waves” that are chasing a great time on the course, that doesn’t mean you need to sign up for them! Most “standard waves” are filled with people just like you who are doing something new for the first time or who are looking for a new workout challenge. Don’t worry about your time and run to have fun!

Master Your Body Weight

While most races are at a minimum of 5k, or 3.1 miles, it certainly helps to do some running before joining an obstacle race. However, there are other important areas of your physical fitness readiness that you will want to address. Body weight circuits are a great way to prepare for an obstacle race and it is something I trained my classes on frequently before heading out to the course. Areas that I recommend you focus on are:

  • Core – Isometric exercises like Planks and Back Extensions (Superman) to stabilize as well as dynamic exercises like Bear Crawls, Army Crawls, Wood Choppers, Leg Lifts and Crunches are all great choices. These core exercises help you maintain your balance on uneven ground or slippery surfaces.
  • Grip – Most races will require you to hang during an obstacle, which requires more grip strength than you would expect. Spend time at a pull-up bar working on hanging and supporting your body weight in space. If you can execute pull-ups, even better. For those who are unable to hang or do a pull-up, no sweat!! Most races offer an option of walking around or through an event that requires action on the monkey bars.
  • StrengthPush-ups and Squats will give you a foundation to conquer most obstacles you will face. Make it a goal to get comfortable performing high repetition sets of these exercises.
  • Conditioning – In addition to running and incline walking (most courses are going to have hills) you want to be ready for anything thrown your way. Try to incorporate exercises like burpees, jump roping and mountain climbers into your routine. Some races like the Spartan issue penalty burpees for missing an obstacle so always read through the race rules depending on which race you join according to your fitness levels!

Grab a Buddy & Enjoy the Day!

This may be the most important factor of them all if you are interested in joining a race. I had an incredible time running races in 2017 mainly because of the great group of people who attend my Bootcamp classes. Each race we completed as a group, helping each other through difficult obstacles, competing with one another and motivating each other. If you have a training group (as the trainer or participant) or even just one workout buddy who you frequently train with, consider signing up together! You will without a doubt find the experience much more enjoyable with a group of like-minded people. Your group will feel more like a team than ever before after completing a race together! Also, realize that it isn’t just about the race itself. Most races give you a ticket to a festival the day of the race as well! Those event are filled with music, food, drinks and activities. The post-run festivities are a great time to relax and enjoy the company of friends, reminiscing about all the challenges and excitement that the day offered. 

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Topics: beginner training for obstacle races team training obstacle races

Making Time to Exercise

Since I was a young child, I have continuously heard in school how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly. Starting at a young age is important too because it will create good habits that will carry on throughout life. I remember in my classes we would talk about adults having difficulties making time to exercise. One of the reasons that stuck out the most to me was not having any time. I had a hard time understanding this reason but now that I have entered the work force, I definitely understand how some may believe that there is not ANY time to exercise.  I can only imagine other factors such as kids, workload, second jobs, errands, etc.  That is okay, because today we are going to look at the top reasons for not exercising and finding solutions so that everyone can find a way to exercise even on your busiest day.

Studies show these are the top reasons why some do not exercise:

Not Enough Time 

When you have work, kids, cleaning and other errands to run, it may seem impossible to take time to workout because other things are more of a priority or more necessary. I think that is the key to making time to exercise, it has to be a necessity. When we believe things are important, we make time for them and should do the same for exercising. It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. That is just 30 minutes a day, for 5 days a week! It can be broken up any way you want, whether it is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, doing it all at once or even breaking it down in to 10 minute sessions.  It does not matter as long as you hit the recommendation.

ThinkstockPhotos-I can do it.jpg

Exercising Hurts 

Never push yourself to where you feel pain. If you are feeling pain, it is time to decrease the intensity and slow down. It is okay to ease into a basic workout routine. Light cardio and light weightlifting is acceptable to start until you feel comfortable increasing the intensity. Sometimes, you experience soreness from a previous workout and if that is the case, take extra rest days to let your body recover. 

Lack of Motivation 

It is so easy to stay home relaxing and not make an extra trip to the gym, but what is going to get you motivated to exercise? Sometimes writing goals down can help.  Also, rewarding yourself each week or once a month is great motivational tactic. Rewards should be fun and exciting and you could bring a friend on board for an extra boost and a dose of commitment.  You can also benefit from the behavioral science of loss aversion to keep you moving.  Find out more about charity fitness apps as a tool to keep you motivated.

It’s Boring 

There are so many ways to enjoy exercise. It is about finding which form of exercise  or activity you like best to continue moving forward. Yes, you have your traditional way of exercising by hopping on a cardio machine or lifting weights, but there are many other options. You can try a group fitness class at a local or private gym and see what styles you enjoy.

[Read More: Check out the NIFS Group Fitness Schedule!]

If you are not a fan of group fitness, consider joining an adult sports league or try outdoor activities such as running and hiking. You can also buy exercise DVDs or subscribe to a fitness streaming services to use at home.  There's a good chance your kids’ game system has workout “games”  the whole family can use. It is a great way to get the kids involved as well!

Making exercise a habit is going to make it more possible to stick with your fitness goals. There are many ways to make extra time for a workout, you just have to find what works for you and make sure you are choosing enjoyable activities. That’s a recipe for success!

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Topics: exercise and health exercise habit making time to exercise