Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Partnering with NIFS—Not Your Average Fitness Contractors

IMG_1985One of my favorite things about my job is when I have the opportunity to visit our client sites and spend time with our staff. Not only are these team members exceptionally knowledgeable and creative in developing fitness offerings for active older adults, but their passion to serve their clients and residents never ceases to amaze me. I think this is what truly differentiates the service NIFS provides from a traditional contractor partnership—how our staff members become one of the team and integrate so seamlessly with the community’s staff and vision.

Examples of this were evident to me during a recent trip to Baltimore, where I had a chance to visit and connect with staff at three communities we serve.

We integrate with your team. Sometimes partnerships with contractors can feel like everyone is working in a silo, and opportunities to bridge communication, resources, and so on are missed. Our staff members are committed to learning about the culture at a community and building relationships with the key players who have a stake in resident well-being, including activities, dining, therapy, home health, and much more. Our staff members attend resident-care meetings, collaborate on upcoming programs and events, and fluidly refer residents to and from therapy services. For a client in Towson, Maryland, our staff meets regularly with the activities team to collaborate on a monthly programming calendar and a streamlined approach to what is offered to residents across the continuums of care. Each week, our fitness staff member also sets up the movie and serves popcorn in the theater at the movie matinee—they are part of the team and lend support beyond the four walls of the fitness center.

We learn about your residents. While many communities have similarities, what sparks enthusiasm and interest from residents can be different from one community to the next. Our staff members learn about resident interests through surveys, evaluating program outcomes, and tracking participation data to measure the impact of various programs. Then they hone in on niche offerings in which the residents are most receptive. In some communities, residents thrive on healthy fitness competitions, while others are more engaged in educational presentations. We tailor programs and services to the unique needs and interests of each community we serve. For a client in Pikesville, Maryland, our Fitness Manager has learned just what makes the residents tick, down to the time of day they schedule offerings for peak engagement. Our manager strikes just the right balance in maintaining steady favorites while introducing new programming to keep residents inspired and challenged.

We help you reach your goals. The community’s goals become our staffs’ goals, and being a part of the team helps us support those efforts. Our staff members have helped clients expand brain-fitness offerings, navigate construction and design projects, as well as bridge programs and services across the continuums to better serve residents in licensed-areas. Communities are regularly evolving to meet the needs of their residents and prospective residents, and we are proud to partner with clients in playing whatever role we can to support those efforts. For a client in Baltimore, Maryland, we have worked hand in hand with their architects and leadership on the design of a new fitness center as they undergo renovations. Our Fitness Manager has done a tremendous job navigating the messaging to the residents about transitions to temporary spaces, changes in class times, and so on.

Residents often don’t recognize our staff as contractors and have the impression that we are community personnel, and that is fine by us. The more fluid and integrated we are, the more the residents and our clients benefit. This recent trip to Baltimore exemplified this continuity at all of our client locations in the area, and I once again took pride in watching our staff in action, doing what they do best!

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

Topics: active aging nifs fitness management senior fitness management senior living community nifs fitness center management fitness center staffing

Creating Purpose for Residents in Senior Living

MMFC_Becca with member-1Fitness management is the cornerstone of our business. Recently we have seen an uptick in clients requesting our support in developing broader wellness programming for their residents through the continuums of care. Sometimes the need arises due to challenges with community personnel who don’t have the tools and resources to cultivate the desired lifestyle for residents. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have a point person to pull everyone together out of their silos across the continuums. Sometimes it’s both! Sound familiar?

How Well Is Your Community Collaborating on Purposeful Programs?

Ask yourself a few questions about how well your community is collaborating and building programs with purpose and intention:

  • Do activities staff collaborate regularly on program and service options across departments and disciplines such as dining, fitness, health services, the chaplain, and the social worker?
  • Do activities staff across all continuums of care collaborate regularly on programs and services and work toward common goals together?
  • Is your calendar full of activities to keep your residents busy (for example, cards, movies, speakers, shopping trips, and so on), or is your calendar crafted with activities that create purpose for residents?

A Visit with a Senior Living Client in New Jersey

I provided a solution to these answers during a recent visit with a senior living client in New Jersey. We have been providing our traditional fitness management services to this client for the past four years. The approach we discussed was shifting our degreed and certified staff into a Wellness Director role, who maintains fitness duties in the fitness center while also facilitating a strong collaborative approach with activities personnel in independent living and health care.

This particular client has come to expect creative and diverse program offerings from our Fitness Manager. Events offered last month for Active Aging Week included Yoga Poses and Doggy Noses (yep, that’s yoga with dogs folks), a Blood Drive, and Movies & Smoothies. Past events included their Polar Plunge, Mind Moves, and Healthy Habit Bingo. As the client recognizes the experiences we create for residents that promote engagement and movement versus sit-and-listen events, they begin to lean on us to support them more broadly outside the realm of fitness. We are also seeing a strong desire for the standard of programming cultivated within independent living to carry consistently through assisted living and health care environments. But we are aware of the struggle communities have to bring that to fruition.

NIFS Staff Members Make the Difference

Our strength lies in the people we hire—in their ability to build exceptional relationships with the residents who participate in their programs and also with the staff at the community with whom they collaborate regularly. Their background as health and fitness professionals empowers them with program solutions to support whole-person well-being. The tools and resources they have behind them from NIFS create the space for strategic planning with key stakeholders in resident well-being.

We essentially become a champion for your community by fueling ideas, breaking down the silos, and getting everyone working from the same playbook on a new standard of program and service offerings. If you are interested in hearing more about NIFS's support of broader wellness programming within your senior living communities, contact me or read on.

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

 

Topics: senior fitness management functional movement resident engagement senior living activities activities calendar senior living nifs staff

5 Design Considerations for a Senior Living Fitness Center

Sagewood - Kimberly 005This has been the year of design and consulting work for senior living clients who are renovating or building new fitness centers. I think I could give you the dimensions of a NuStep T4r model in my sleep (they are 60 x 27 x 24 inches, by the way). It truly is exciting to see the industry dedicating resources to well-designed fitness spaces to support quality programs and services for residents.

Although getting the right equipment and layout is important, these five design elements come up time and time again and should be considered early in the planning process. They might not be the same level of financial investment as your large equipment purchases, but they can significantly enhance your users’ experience and the program’s success.

  • Televisions and entertainment: Determine whether you will pursue wall-mount televisions or the integrated console option on the cardio machines. With some equipment like NuSteps and rowers not having the integrated TV option, you will want a wall-mount TV somewhere in your facility. With wall-mount TVs you’ll have to navigate the channel wars for the lifelong battle between Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, which individuals have VERY strong preferences for—imagine that! Consider an FM tuner option with headphones if needed, but we generally see residents politely following the first-come, first-served rule.
  • Water source: Don’t forget to dedicate space for a water fountain or hydration station in the fitness center and where group fitness classes are held, or within immediate proximity. It’s highly important to encourage hydration during exercise. The more conveniently located the water source, the better.
  • Balance training area: When designing a fitness center, most think of cardio equipment, strength equipment, and then a stretching area. Don’t forget about an area dedicated to balance training. This can be as simple as a wall with a handrail and a balance pad. A balance training area can be one of the busiest spots in your fitness center—particularly if you have qualified staffing to provide fall-prevention programming.
  • Mirrored walls: Coaching residents on how to perform exercises in front of a mirror can make a significant impact on reinforcing proper form and posture. This can be especially important in group fitness spaces or in areas of the fitness center where residents might be performing balance, resistance band, or dumbbell exercises.
  • Exercise chairs: We are big fans of the Resistance Chair for exercise classes, but if you are using traditional chairs, consider these specifications to make them more exercise-friendly. Armrests can be obstructive to a number of upper-body exercises, limiting a participant’s range of motion. Choosing an option without armrests or a slimmer armrest option is ideal. Also consider the height and weight of the chair; many chairs are used as a stable base of support and serve as a handle during standing exercises. Consider a chair with a taller backrest that can help residents maintain a tall, upright posture while performing exercises.

These minor details can make a big impact on the functionality of the space and programming options. We have designed dozens of senior living fitness centers and take these things and much more into consideration when creating the most functional and comfortable space for residents. Check out NIFS’ Senior Living Wellness Consulting page for more insight into how we support fitness center design projects across the country.

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

Topics: balance technology senior living fitness center fitness center design equipment senior wellness consulting

Build Relationships to Grow Your Wellness Program

As the manager of your wellness program, have you ever been at the point where participation has stalled a bit? Maybe January was huge with all the New Year’s resolutions and February was decent, but it slowed down in March and April. So how do you reach out to that crowd that’s a little less motivated to participate in your wellness programming?

Learn names.

Think about the last time you were new in a place—maybe a gym, maybe a church, maybe even your favorite restaurant. It’s a little uncomfortable, right? Even if you’re an extrovert and you love meeting new people, it’s not the same feeling as walking in to a group of friends. Now think of how much more at ease you would feel if you heard your name and turned around to see someone you knew. Take the time and make the effort to learn as many names as you possibly can. And then use them! Asking “Hello, Mrs. Smith, how’s your day going?” can go a long way toward building a rapport with Mrs. Smith and making her feel welcome in the fitness space.

Invite them out for coffee.

Get to know them! The point of this coffee date is not to probe them with questions about why they aren’t coming to this amazing triathlon event you’re having with all the prizes. The reason you’re sitting down and taking 20 minutes out of your day specifically for them is to build a relationship. Ask them about their family, their career, their hobbies. Get to know them on some level and show that you genuinely care about them as a person. That’s it. You don’t even need to invite them to come down to the fitness center sometime. You’re planting a seed. Then, eventually, if you’re hosting a wellness event that has something that might appeal to them, make a point to speak to them about it directly and see if they’d like to come.

GettyImages-483770407 (1)Hand-write cards and notes.

Yes, it’s impractical to hand-write every notice or invitation that goes out advertising your wellness program. But it is absolutely practical to take a minute to write someone a two- or three-sentence note in a birthday card once a year. Make people feel special! If there’s a program where you think “Mrs. Smith would be perfect for this,” write a sentence or two on the bottom of the postcard that’s going out with the information on it. Something as simple as “I hope to see you there!” can go a long way if it’s in your handwriting with your signature at the bottom.

Remember the details.

I struggle with this one because I have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time so my memory isn’t great. So, I write it down. If Mrs. Smith comes to show me the 72 photos that she just received in the mail of her new baby great-granddaughter, I’m going to write a note to myself to remember that baby’s name so that I can ask Mrs. Smith about her in a few weeks. It seems tedious and small, but I promise you that remembering those details goes a long way in building trust with that member.

What other ways do you build relationships with people who interact with your wellness program?

Partner with NIFS to improve your senior living community

Topics: corporate wellness senior wellness motivation participation personal interest wellness programs relationships

Future Fitness: What’s Hot and Where Are Our Workouts Headed?

The fitness industry has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Fitness has gone through many transformations throughout history, with plyometric-based activities being the first main form of staying in shape. People trained for functionality and usability of techniques and strength in general. Today, we have become much more personalized and have many driving factors behind why and how we work out.

GettyImages-1132973672 (1)Fitness Fads vs. Classic Methods

Today’s fitness industry is wildly different from even 10–15 years ago. We have had many fads in the industry that have peaked and disappeared. Some of these were deserving of such a fate, but there are some staples that have seemed to stand the test of time. These types of fitness methods include standard weightlifting/bodybuilding style, pioneered by the generation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as the marathon runs that started centuries ago with Olympic athletes. In my opinion, some people stick to traditional methods, and others like to go with what is new and fresh in the industry.

Group Fitness Trends

Group fitness classes are adapting to changing wants. These wants have gone from the likes of Tae Bo and Jazzercise to Boot Camp–style classes, CrossFit, hot yoga, immersive spin classes, and a mix of different styles like PiYo and others. This has shown that classes are becoming more varied, and are allowing people to be more specific in the type of class they want to participate in. I love this adaptation, and I hope it continues to grow for people who like the group environment. (Look here for more of what NIFS is offering in Group Fitness.)

The Impact of Technology on Fitness

Today’s fitness industry is quickly incorporating technology to improve not only the experience of working out, but also the data available afterward. People are becoming more educated about the effects of exercise from a physiological standpoint, and are tracking metrics normally not available to people even a few years ago. Wearable technology allows people to track their heart rates and performance in real-time, which provides an intrinsic motivation to continue on their workout routine. This is just one part of the industry that is quickly seeing changes.

Fitness equipment seems to be smarter and smarter by the day, with machines getting larger TV screens that give many options in real-time data, as well as entertainment like video games controlled by the exercise performed (such as with spin bikes and rowers).

My Predictions

All this advancement in technology has inspired my predictions on the future of the fitness industry. I believe the introduction of DNA-based fitness testing and performance measurement will make its way into the mainstream industry soon, as well as augmented-reality–based training, allowing individuals to escape the standard gym environment and become fully immersed in a new experience. It seems that social media is a large driving force for these new technologies and workout types, and I can see these being popular for people who want to try the newest and greatest technology in their workouts.

If you ask me, I will stick with the simple workouts: run and lift some metal. Call me old school, but with the advancement of fitness technology and equipment, the same task needs to be accomplished at the end of the day, and if I can simplify that process, I will go that route. However, I still look forward to what the future holds!

Topics: NIFS technology fitness trends group fitness workouts

NIFS Wii Bowling Tourney Brings Out Competition All Over the U.S.

HRGT Wii Bowling 3This summer, teams all around the country ironed their bowling shirts, warmed up their throwing arms, and double-checked their TV connections in preparation for the first-ever 10-week session of the NIFS Wii Bowling League.

What started as a little friendly banter between colleagues quickly became a full-blown tournament as NIFS managers from various fitness centers started exploring new opportunities for some variety in recreation programming. After a few group emails had been sent, we finally came up with the idea to host a virtual bowling tournament.

Residents formed teams of two to four people. Each week, teams played their round of bowling and NIFS fitness center managers sent scores in to be tallied. Each Monday, updated standings and a new schedule were sent out to all participating sites. This went on during seven weeks of regular play, and then the single-elimination playoffs began. After three weeks of playoffs, only one team was left standing: The PinStrikers from Lakewood, NJ are this summer’s Wii Bowling Champions!

Thinking of hosting your own Wii Bowling tournament? Here are a few tips to make it successful:

Make it accessible to everyone.

Nearly everyone can learn how to play Wii Bowling. That’s one of the best things about it! Just practice patience when teaching new people and everything will go well. You can even play while seated if balance is a concern.

Be sure the rules are clearly communicated.

Avoid frustration from all parties and be sure you are clear about the rules you’ll play by. For our tournament, we had a schedule and then the standings were set according to win/loss record rather than by scores. It made the tournament aspect much more interesting because there were no clear front-runners or favorites.

Make it fun!

I hope this goes without saying, but fun should be the first priority here. Be sure everyone is clear that it’s just a game and the opportunity is open to everyone!

Have you ever hosted a virtual tournament between teams of people in different communities? NIFS can help you evaluate your program and improve offerings for your residents with NIFS Consulting, click below for more information.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Topics: senior fitness management fitness programs for seniors balance technology competition sports senior living activities

Liven Up Your Senior Living Community Fitness Center

Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 2.34.17 PMPicture this: You are 78 years old touring a senior living community with the marketing and sales coordinator. They take you to the ground floor or basement of the building and they flip on the lights of the uninhabited fitness center. It has painted cinderblock walls, fluorescent lights, no windows, and a hodgepodge of equipment. It feels deserted and you wonder how active the community is.

You then tour a neighboring community and you see the fitness center on the main floor, with sleek and contemporary equipment, dedicated staff leading residents through a workout, light pouring in through the windows, and more residents passing by in the hallway just having left the bistro next door from an afternoon coffee talk.

These two environments paint highly different images of a community and the residents’ experience engaging in an active lifestyle. While the ground-floor space is quiet and functional for exercise, the main-floor fitness center conveys vibrancy and a sense of community. It is a space to inspire residents to be active and champion a healthy lifestyle. The purpose of my comparison is not to bash ground-floor fitness centers, however; we have developed highly successful fitness programs in this exact environment. But if you have the means to move your fitness center to a more central location, it’s something to consider.

Moving the Fitness Center out of the Basement

Over the years, we have witnessed more and more clients bringing their fitness centers out of the basement or tucked-away spaces and positioning the fitness center as part of the central hub of activity alongside their dining venues and auditoriums. It isn’t just another room where people who like to exercise can go. It is in the forefront and inspires residents to go exercise!

This type of renovation can be easier said than done in finding the space, resources, and more to make this kind of transition happen. Even if you don’t have the resources at the moment to renovate or relocate your fitness center, there is plenty that communities can do to cultivate that inspiring and engaging environment. After all, we’ve seen some of the most beautiful, state-of-the-art fitness centers go underutilized without proper staffing support for residents.

Liven Up Your Fitness Space

Consider these three tips to liven up any fitness space.

  • Staffing, staffing, staffing! Of course I’m going to beat this drum, but we’ve watched underutilized fitness centers from 800 square feet to 2,500 square feet blossom into lively and inviting spaces simply by adding qualified fitness staffing who build relationships with the residents and offer quality programs and services. Give your fitness center a personal connection and draw for residents.
  • Give it a facelift: It’s always amazing what a coat of paint and fresh flooring can do for a space. If your space is lacking windows, make sure plenty of lighting is available and choose a light paint color.
  • Update the small supplies: Sometimes the small supplies of dumbbells, stability balls, ankle weights, and so on can overrun a space and make it feel cluttered without proper storage solutions. Consider how these items are housed and consider making small investments in storage options or replacing items. A dumbbell rack with uniform weights, for example, is much sleeker than mismatched styles and colors you’ve accumulated over time.

If you are looking to give your space an upgrade or interested in more information on qualified staffing to champion your fitness program, contact the experts at NIFS.

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

Topics: senior fitness senior living community senior living fitness center fitness center design equipment fitness center staffing improve your fitness center