Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Put Some "Spring" In Your Step

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Were you one of the many people who made it a goal in 2018 that you were going to work out more and start focusing on your health? Then, perhaps as the days began to pass and you found yourself two months into the New Year, with nothing to show for your ambitious goal.

The shorter winter days and cold weather make it difficult to convince ourselves to get up and workout, when instead we could be on the couch watching a favorite TV show. But then the weather begins to get warmer, the sun shines longer, and everyone seems to feel a little bit more motivated and energized – because spring is right around the corner. If you're feeling a little more motivated, you might be wondering how you go from binge watching that TV show to committing to the fitness goal you made on January 1st. Follow these simple fitness tip to put some "spring" in your step!

Be Realistic. If you haven’t been working out then the likelihood of you getting to the gym 5x per week is unrealistic. Start small with your goals and gradually work up from there. The goals you choose should be attainable. Once you have found yourself sustaining and keeping with your workout and fitness goals is when you should begin to increase your workload.

[Read More: Tips for An Effective Exercise Program]

Be Held Accountable. Ask a family member or friend to start this journey with you. Make gym dates and don’t cancel at the last minute. Your workout partner will help keep you on track and you can do the same thing for them. A partner is also a great person to vent and share things with. Did you splurge and eat that bowl of ice cream or miss the gym on Sunday morning? Share it with your partner. They will be there for you through your lows and highs but also push you to achieve your milestones!

Make A Plan. You’re geared up and ready to go get your workout on. Then, you step into the gym and you have no idea what you are going to do. We have all been there. Make it a point to not only plan out when you are going to work out but what you are going to do when you get there. Remember, plans are not set in stone. However, they help keep you on track and pointing toward that end goal.

It is time to take full advantage of what spring has to offer in helping to achieve your goals. I encourage you to use our recommended tips toward becoming a healthier you, and what better time to do it then now? Make a realistic exercise plan and join that Cardio Pump class you and your co-worker have been interested in. Get ready to say, “so long” to old man winter and “hello” to spring by jumping back into fitness!

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Topics: fitness tips new Years resolution fitness resolutions fitness goals

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part I - Food Check

Are you seeking ways to introduce healthier elements into your work environment and meetings? It’s a great idea and one that makes employees feel appreciated and valued by their organization. In surveys where employees are asked if they are supported by their company or manager, too many times I’ve seen that they do not respond with positive feedback. What I DO see is a plea for better options and support from their managers as they try to implement a healthier lifestyle. I also don’t think they are looking for a grandiose gesture, but just sincere thoughtfulness that makes them feel like their employer CARES for them and their well-being. If you’d like to raise the bar on how your employees feel you’re supporting their health, follow our 3-part blog series on designing a healthy workplace.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. FOOD.

Hit the bar – Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking the place you go for happy hour. I’m talking about hosting a healthy food bar at work. The all too familiar donuts, cookies, and cakes that are served as rewards and celebrations is getting to be too sweet of a deal. It’s a nice thought but what your employees may rather have is something that they can indulge in and not get off track with their nutrition goals.

Rather than rewarding with sweets, try offering something that communicates your commitment to helping employees live well. Consider hosting a healthy bagel bar (buy the mini bagels) with low-fat cream cheese options, smoked salmon, PB&J, avocado, almond butter, hard boiled eggs and bananas as toppings. Try a yogurt bar that you can fill with fruits, nuts, seeds and honey. You can also go vegan, and avoid lactose with some non-traditional varieties of yogurt. If you’re looking for something to top that, why not bring in a smoothie vendor to offer several of their most popular varieties? These can have ingredients that include your favorite fruits but also vegetables, wheat grass, green tea, vitamins, and protein powder. Can I get an AMEN for sneaking in veggies and other healthy ingredients?

Food Truck Open GettyImages-645575706.jpg

Truck it – I’m talking about Food Trucks of course! These days, there are a variety of choices for bringing healthy options TO your employees. Yes, there are plenty of unhealthy options in this area but I’d like to focus on something modern, different and possibly out of the ordinary for rewarding your employees. I suggest you to take some time to research local, healthy food trucks. You’ll find varieties that include smoothie trucks, fresh organic salads and sandwiches, locally raised and hormone free options, vegan trucks and changing menus depending on what’s in season. Not only is this a trendy idea but it supports your local businesses and it also gets your employees up and moving toward fresh air.

If this event goes over well, you could line up several healthy options in the future (for example, first Friday of the month is “Food Truck Friday”). Some trucks might need a guarantee so they know the trip is worth their time, but if you can provide a certain amount of free sample items for your employees, most likely they will purchase more when they get to the front of the line. That’s a win for the employees and for the truck owner. If your culture supports an eat-at-your-desk mentality, you may have to get creative to encourage your employees to truly use their lunch break. (Side note – it also supports your local economy, so this is truly a win-win.)

Demo-day – You’ve probably tried something like lunch and learns, health professionals coming in to do presentations, and different health screenings. I don’t think these are a bad idea in their traditional form, but how about considering something more light-hearted, that smells delicious and is also educational. See what you can cook up for a chef or a registered dietitian offering a healthy cooking demonstration for your employees. Not only do the employees get some delicious taste tests at work, but their families may also benefit from new and delicious recipes as well.

The reward system – It’s common to see food as a reward for a job well done.  But I’d like to turn that on its head. Providing access to healthier choices for your employees creates a whole environment and workplace experience that’s rewarding. There are several ways you can do this and I’m sure at least one will be doable at your organization. If you have a cafeteria, try a reward or discount program for the healthy items. Here are some examples on how to offer this. If employees choose the salad bar, sandwich station, fresh fruit or soup, they get a certain discount on their total bill. If the system is set up where the cost of a healthier choice is lower than the unhealthy options, employees are more likely to grab some greens for lunch.

If that sounds like something you’d like to dip your toes in, but either don’t have a cafeteria or it seems like a big jump, you can start with your vending machines. Talk to your vending machine provider and ask for healthier options, label them and give a discount on these items. You can also consider completely revamping your vending machine offerings for a healthy, fresh version. You might see items in these machines like apples, hard boiled eggs, veggie and hummus dip, bake potato chips, and organically made items. Don’t forget to consider your vending beverages too! Skip the soda and offer naturally flavored water, teas, Kombucha, almond milk and coconut water.

Food will ALWAYS be a hot topic and it’s a good place to consider some welcome changes at your workplace. Give your employees some natural energy through healthy food and drinks so they can keep their eyes open during the 2 o’clock slump. They will thank you for it, and maybe you’ll see some positive changes in productivity, and how your employees feel about the way are you are supporting them.

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Topics: healthy work environment corporate wellness workplace wellness wellness programming corporate wellness programs happy employees Wellness in the Workplace

Employees Experience Added Value of Corporate Fitness Centers

members_speak-1.jpgThe benefits of providing an onsite corporate fitness center at the workplace are far-reaching and they may or may not have anything to do with reducing health care costs. For leadership, it’s easy to focus on this tangible measurement and lose sight of other reasons  to support employees in their health and fitness goals.

Learn how one member at a NIFS client location has found value in using her corporate fitness center as she strives to maintain a newly established healthy lifestyle.

Was there an “a-ha” moment or life event that led you to make a positive change for your health?

I’ve known for a number of years that I needed to improve my health, but always had excuses for not doing so. When my granddaughter was born in 2016, I knew I wanted to be around to see her grow up. I also wanted to be able to keep up with her energy so I could be active in her life as she got older. She, and the future grandchildren, have been my inspiration.

What has been a key factor in helping you stick to your new routine? What is your motivation?

Staying motivated is a challenge, so I set a number of small, fun SMART goals that I was determined to achieve. For example, when work sponsored a team to run the Indianapolis Mini Marathon, I decided to run the 5K race. Our NIFS fitness center staff provided a training program to follow. I finished in the top 10% of my age group. I have signed up for five more races, with the next goal being to win my age group.

[Related Content: Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management]

How has the fitness center provided a supportive environment for you to work on your health?

There are a number of benefits of having the fitness center onsite. First, it is convenient. Employees can go before work, at lunchtime, or after work; that flexibility is a huge help. I also like the personal attention that is available to help build a structured exercise program that will achieve specific goals. In our corporate fitness center there's a huge variety of activities available, especially the group fitness classes. You can try something new each week.

I really enjoy the supportive atmosphere of the coaches and my coworkers in the center. They make exercise fun. I also feel that we're lucky to have the center as one of our corporate health benefits. The fact that our leadership supports the existence of the center signals that employee health and fitness is important to our organization.

What would you tell your coworkers who still haven't tapped into the benefits of the corporate fitness center?

I spent a long time feeling like I was too tired to put exercise into my schedule. I also told myself that I just did not have the time. But, now that I am exercising regularly and feeling better, I have more energy. I also am more agile and can do things around the house that I have not been able to do in years. It’s funny that one of my excuses in the past for not exercising was thinking I did not have the time or was too busy. Now that I am exercising and have more energy, I get things done faster. So by exercising, I have more time.

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To read other NIFS "members speak" stories, click here. If your'e looking for a corporate fitness vendor to start improving your employees lives, click here to find out how we support our clients across the US.

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Topics: corporate fitness center onsite fitness center ROI NIFS Mini-Marathon employee health and fitness motivation goals

Should I Invest in a Fitness Tracker?

Fitness trackers are all the buzz these days, but do you know what to look for when choosing one? With so many sizes, colors, capabilities and prices, which one should you choose? Or should you even invest in one? Let me offer some considerations when or if you do choose to purchase one.

If you’re like me, you contemplated making this purchase and for good reason! Wearable fitness tracking devices can vary in prices, from $50.00 all the way up to $1,095.00! With that hefty price tag, comes many things to consider. Do you think you’ll use it, what exactly are you trying to track or monitor, and do you need water resistant or waterproof? Let’s break down the capabilities of these devices and what you should ask yourself as you research the different options.  

[Related Post: Why Wearable Fitness Trackers Aren't Your Wellness Program]

You must first ask yourself if you think you’ll find activity-tracking beneficial. You certainly don’t want to buy it only for it to sit on the dresser collecting dust. If you do think you want to purchase one, you have five things you’ll want to consider; style, display, compatibility, battery life and water proof.

Fitness trackers range from the super simple, to featuring all the bells and whistles. If you want to know how many steps you take a day, look for an all-day tracker. However, if you want more details on those steps (e.g. speed, pace, and stride), you may want to investigate a training tracker. Training trackers can provide data that’s specifically tailored to a certain exercise (i.e. marathon runners). All day trackers measure your total steps taken, stairs you’ve climbed, duration of exercise, active minutes and sleep time. Training trackers do everything an all-day tracker does PLUS the following: heart rate, breathing patterns, miles traveled, speed, pace, and route information. Some may also be able to control music, make and receive calls, text messaging and emails. Now let’s talk more in depth about the five options I mentioned above.

Activity Tracker GettyImages-918102996.jpg

Style - Many trackers can be worn on the wrist, but there are some that can be worn as pendants or clipped to your clothing. Manufacturers are also paying more attention to design details; think color, shape, and material. Make sure you choose one you’ll feel comfortable wearing all day.

Display - The advanced trackers display a slew of data on the screen. Others (i.e. pendant trackers) show limited data and display information via an LED light, or will only show up on an app. Think about how you want to see your data. Do you want to see it immediately, or are you okay with looking it up on an app when near your phone?

Compatibility - Make sure your cell phone or computer is compatible before you buy a tracker. There’s nothing worse than spending money, only to realize the device isn’t user friendly with your current phone or computer. Most devices on the market will work with Apple’s iOS and Android systems. However, few work devices work with Windows.

Battery Life - Depending on which device you choose, will depend on the length of battery life. A tracker with more bells and whistles will require more frequent charges than a simple band tracker. You also want to pay attention to rechargeable versus non-rechargeable. Some run on batteries like cameras and calculators, others come with charging devices.

Water - Trackers are either water-resistant or waterproof. Keep in mind, water resistant only means that the tracker can be splashed with water, not submerged. This means they can withstand a decent amount of sweating, but certainly not a dip in the pool.

I hope that this information will help you narrow down which type of tracker to purchase. Or, maybe I talked you out of purchasing one altogether. Either way, remember that a tracker is a lot like a gym membership - you must use it for it to work!

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Topics: wearables healthy choices healthy lifestyle fitness tips fitness trackers

4 Myths That Are Limiting The Success of Your Corporate Fitness Center 

Including a corporate fitness center in your menu of employee wellness benefits is worth considering. It takes away a few common excuses people use for not exercising by being convenient and low or no cost for employees to use. But if you think that simply putting a fitness center into your office space is a key answer to lowering your health care costs, you’re mistaken. And, if lowering your health care costs is your primary motivator for funding a corporate fitness center, you may want to reconsider that position because generating ROI figures specific to your onsite fitness program is almost impossible.

If you're still with me because you think a corporate fitness center is on the list of the right things to do to help your employees be well, then consider the myths below that may hold back the success of your worksite fitness initiatives.  

#1: If we build it, they will come.

Corporate fitness center ghost town

No, friends, “they” won’t. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that just under 22% of adults age 18 and older self-report meeting the physical activity guidelines. Because that data is self-reported, it’s probably inflated. If this snapshot is representative of your workforce (and it probably is), then your employees aren’t as active as they should be for optimal health. But simply putting a fitness center in your building won't automatically make inactive employees start exercising. Solely dedicating a space and putting some equipment in, is no guarantee that it won't quickly become a ghost town.

One key to making your fitness center more effective is providing engaging and qualified staff to both manage the center, AND provide key services/support for employees. Without fitness center staff, you are building a corporate fitness center for the 15-20% of your workforce who are already regular exercisers. That said, if you built your corporate fitness center to be a nice amenity and you don’t really care if it’s being used, then carry on. But, if you’re truly interested in helping people adopt physical activity into their lives, consider getting the right staff in there to pull your fence sitters (“Maybe I’ll try it Monday”) off the fence and into the fitness center.

#2: If we can find the right carrot, more employees will participate.

One manager’s “carrot” is another employee’s “stick”. A lack of employee engagement can’t be fixed with HSA money or t-shirts. It’s likely that your employees aren’t participating for reasons much deeper than the extrinsic rewards you’re willing to lay at their feet. 

An individual’s ability to be well goes WAY beyond biometric screenings and an HRA. Research tells us that zip code does more to determine our health than our genes. Employers have zero control over both of those. So, while you’re designing the perfect incentive strategy to get your employees to participate in the annual wellness program, they’re wondering how to keep food on the table and how pay their bills. They're worrying about junior's performance at school and they pray daily that he gets to and from school safely. If that isn't enough to have on their plate, they’re suffering the weight of serious stress brought on by working more than one job. 

In the midst of all of the stress of their personal lives, there isn't a consideration of using your corporate fitness center. Worse yet, every Fall, when you tell them the money that’s at stake if they don’t successfully complete elements X, Y, and Z of your wellness program, they only feel more burden and frankly a necessity to participate in the drudgery that is your wellness program. They NEED those HSA dollars so they’ll scrape by figuring out a way to complete all of the wellness program components. And they’ll resent you all the way. There’s nothing healthy about any of that.

#3: If we ask employees what they need, they’ll put forward ridiculous suggestions we can’t use (so we don’t’ ask).

I can’t say this is 100% false. Case in point, we have one client who has a few employees who annually ask for a pool at work via our satisfaction survey. The client is never going to act on that request. But, it would be equally ridiculous to assume that all feedback is as myopic as this. 

If you subscribe to the ideology that healthy and happy employees are the core of your successful business, then you value what your teams have to say. Sometimes, their needs for improved health shows up in their data, so you don't even have to ask. In other cases, they have fabulous ideas for elevating your organization that would never otherwise have made it to the surface if you didn’t ask.

We make it a habit to solicit feedback from fitness center members, and in many cases, they've asked for services that we were able to implement to the benefit of all of the members. For example, in response to a member request, we now routinely have a large bottle of sunscreen available for members who want to run/walk outside. We also started building a library of grab-n-go workouts on laminated cards that members could use to get through a quick session without a scheduled appointment with a trainer. Eventually, we built those into on-the-road kits for employees who traveled; they could check out a travel kit before their trip and return it when they got back to the office. You could argue that these ideas should have been on our radar, but they weren't and we never would have met these needs if we hadn't asked for feedback. 

#4: If our fitness center isn’t being used we need to change our management partner.

Maybe your fitness center is struggling because of the management company, or maybe it's the right management partner but the wrong staff for your culture. But, before you assume that low participation in your fitness center could be fixed by swapping out the vendor, take a holistic view of what's happening in your work environment.  

Here's why: if your employees have very little autonomy in their jobs, then the corporate fitness center isn’t even on the employee’s radar. They punch in and punch in without looking back. It doesn’t matter how engaging and inviting the fitness center staff is, how great the services are, how fun the group fitness classes are, and how easy it is to join the fitness center. If their work environment offers no flexibiliy, they will not use your fitness center. 

Your fitness management vendor cannot rise above your organization's cultural barriers to magically draw employees into the fitness center, and a vendor switch is a major ordeal. So, exercise caution and take a hard look in the mirror before you fix a vendor relationship that may not be broken.  

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Your employees lives are complicated and their work environment is part of that sticky picture.  Some of them are likely fighting to make it each day, in ways that you may have never considered. If you’re committed to a strategy for employee well-being that is truly about lifting your employees up, then you have to bust through these myths to get to the real barriers that make it hard for people to make a healthy choice. For more on addressing social determinants of health in your wellness program, try this article. If you're looking for a few quick tips to infuse a little more movement into the workday for your employees, grab our quick read below.

 Quick tips to help your employees move more

Topics: corporate fitness management workplace wellness employee health and wellness

How a Robust Fall Prevention Program Can Improve Residents Lives

Falls are a big concern for senior living communities. Given the well-known statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's easy to see why. The National Council On Aging provides compelling numbers as well. This is why we work so hard with our clients to establish robust, evidence-based, year-round programming that focuses on improving resident's balance and strength, as well as their self-confidence.  

One of the key elements for successful balance programming is drawing in as many residents as possible; we've found that the best way to accomplish this is through varied programming. It's not enough to simply put a balance class on the calendar. Communities have to take it one step further and offer other ways to interact.

Balance Redfined | NIFS Fall Prevention

NIFS Balance RedefinedTM programming offers everything from fitness testing to classes that teach participants how to safely get up from a fall. We've spent years evolving these services as we responded to resident suggestions and evaluated our program data.  Below are stories from residents whose lives have been positively impacted by the work our staff do.

Ms. Weigle

Despite losing her husband just a few days after they moved into the community, Ms. Weigle made a conscious choice to take that difficult first step out of their apartment to meet new neighbors, and within a few weeks someone invited her to try the Balance Class offered by the NIFS fitness center manager. She has been a faithful participant (and ambassador!) ever since and has expanded her lifestyle to include additional activities such as swimming, walking groups, gardening, and studying Spanish. 

Ms. Weigle takes her regular exercise so seriously that she’s told her family not to call in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays because she will be in the pool. When asked, she’s proud to share that through repeat balance testing with the NIFS manager, she is seeing her scores improve.  At 87 years old, she thinks becoming steadier on her feet has helped her in other areas of her health. In fact, in a recent doctor’s visit, she was praised by her doctor for exceptional blood pressure, and she was pleased to share that ankle pain which had long bothered her was no longer a problem. 

[Read more:  Ms. Weigle's full story]

Mrs. Chapin

When Mrs. Chapin moved to her community about ten years ago, she wasn’t new to exercise. With a COPD diagnosis almost 20 years ago, she started swimming laps, and even though she hated to exercise, she kept at it because she knew it was crucial to helping her stay well with a chronic disease. But when she and her husband moved into their community, she took a break from regular exercise to engage in so many of the other opportunities provided. 

She watched her husband’s health gradually decline, so she nudged him to join her for a Balance class, and they were regulars up until his passing last year. Through that loss, Mrs. Chapin felt the support of the members in her class, and was able to keep attending regularly. The social support in NIFS balance programming has been a significant and  positive as she draws her social network from that group. Mrs. Chapin’s annual senior fitness evaluation confirms she’s on the right track with maintaining her balance, but more important than the numbers is how Mrs. Chapin feels. She told us that at 88 years old, she feels steadier than ever and she’s thrilled to still be sewing quilts and clothes, as well as painting, and serving on several resident committees all of which wouldn’t be possible if she wasn’t in good shape. 

Mr. Sadler

Mr. Sadler never used to exercise.  But when he moved to his community in 2009, his decision to start taking group fitness classes and using the pool proved valuable to overcome health challenges that were just around the corner. After a knee replacement surgery didn’t go as expected, he had to have the surgery reversed and replaced the joint with surgical concrete.  Not only did that “fix” leave him unable to walk, he lost significant healthy muscle tissue as well. Following his release from physical therapy, Mr. Sadler was only mobile by scooter or wheelchair and he stopped attending an annual family beach vacation.

He knew his only hope to return to more independence, and maybe to enjoying that annual family vacation again was to get back to a regular exercise routine. After working closely with the NIFS team at his community, he was able to regain significant strength and balance through careful water training. Eventually, he got back to land-based exercise as well and at 87 years old, he has resumed driving and walks confidently with a walker. In 2015, he joined his family again at the beach for their annual vacation. 

[Read more: Mr. Sadler's full story]

Mrs. Boelter

Mrs. Boelter was physical active as a regular water aerobics participant before she moved into her community in 2013.  She was also an avid walker and all of that has continued with the help of the NIFS staff at her community. As her Parkinson’s disease progresses, she feels the importance of maintaining her activity level even more and shared that through regular personal training with the NIFS manager, she has more energy throughout the day. But most noticeably, she is more able to get moving in the morning compared to her previous routine.

Mrs. Boelter noted that although she’s had a number of falls over the past 20 years since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she’s had no major falls since she started working with the NIFS staff on her balance. She tells everyone at the community about the benefits of the classes and personal training; she’s a living testament to being able to maintain her independence with regular balance training offered at her community.

Mrs. Moore

Mrs. Moore has been active in the fitness center and with the NIFS staff at her community since she moved in 2004. More recently however, she participated in the NIFS Balance Challenge at the suggestion of the NIFS manager. Through a series of evaluations, education, and fun games, residents engaged in the Balance Challenge understand how to improve their balance as well as how to avoid and manage falls. 

New information on managing falls proved to be very timely for Mrs. Moore when she sustained a fall outside of the clubhouse. After she got her bearings, she was able to use skills she had learned from the NIFS manager during the Challenge to get up on her own without injury. She shared she’s been able to use what she learned through the program to stay active with gardening and to keep up with her grandkids too. She has also become an ambassador for all services connected with balance training at her community. 

[Read more: Mrs. Moore's full story]


It's really common for communities to have missed opportunities when it comes to providing comprehensive fall prevention programming. We can help you spot and fill those gaps to provide exactly what your residents need to feel steadier and confident on their feet. Click below for more information about a free consulting session with NIFS to jump start balance training at your community.

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

Topics: balance redefined balance training balance training for seniors fall prevention senior lliving