Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Lives Enriched through NIFS Legacy Program

Legacy photo-1In February, you may have read about NIFS Legacy Program which was run at a number of our senior living client sites across the country. Many fitness centers were considering programs to promote cardiovascular health for Heart Health Month and this initiative had its own way of tugging at the heart strings. As I was reviewing the monthly reports that our staff were submitting highlighting their program offerings and participation in the month of February, I was touched by this quote from our Wellness Director, Candace Montgomery, at The Chesapeake in Newport News, Virginia, a LifeSpire of Virginia community. NIFS has been partnered with LifeSpire since 2016 to manage their Vibrance program across three of their communities. As you read below, you’ll understand how the resident response to this program exemplifies how LifeSpire is committed to creating joy, purpose, growth, and community in daily living for their residents and we are honored to help create these experiences.

“We took part in NIFS Legacy Project which was a huge success for our Independent Living, Assisted Living and Healthcare residents with 74 participants. It was very interesting learning about residents lives and memories that they jotted down during this project. This project was also very touching for many residents who live in Independent Living but have spouses in Healthcare. One resident in particular came to our fitness office in tears of joy about the heartwarming conversations she had with her husband in Healthcare regarding their life and their children and all of the happy memories that occurred. This is truly what the Legacy Project was all about!”  - Candace Montgomery, NIFS Wellness Director

Candace is absolutely right. That IS what it’s all about and I see and feel so much from reading her summary.

  • I see a compassionate and creative wellness professional who values the stories that her residents have to share and a team-oriented approach that was needed to make this program a success.
  • I see 74 residents across all continuums of care participating in a program that gives them purpose and warms their hearts (all of our hearts frankly).
  • I see a couple reminiscing about the beautiful life they continue to share because they are receiving the care and support they need in a nurturing environment.
  • And I see family members receiving a keepsake that will be cherished for generations to come.

All four of these bullets shine a spotlight on the impact that quality wellness programs can have on your staff, residents, and their families; all were enriched by this program.

While many know us as a fitness management company, our staff are regularly offering holistic programs of this nature to support the overall well-being of the residents we serve. In addition, we strive to bridge programs and services throughout the continuums of care to benefit all residents. Here are a few tips to help carry programs that are offered to your IL residents over to your licensed areas with a little creative planning and teamwork.

Thank you to Candace and the team at The Chesapeake for enriching lives of the residents in your community and for enriching us from afar with your story.

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

 

Topics: senior wellness senior wellness programs legacy

Exercise Tips for Seniors: Staying Active While Staying Safe

GettyImages-1135376317 (1)While practicing social distancing remains a priority for everyone, finding ways to stay physically active should also remain a priority. This is particularly true for older adults who may find themselves feeling increasingly isolated and vulnerable to remain safe. Exercise has long proven to provide numerous health benefits both for your physical well-being as well as your emotional well-being including:

  • Improved blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • Improved immune system response
  • Improved blood circulation and joint comfort
  • Improved mood, sleep, and happiness levels
  • Decreased feelings of depression, anxiety and stress

The National Institute on Aging has an even lengthier list of benefits if you need more convincing. Truly there is no magic pill or treatment that can provide the combined physical and emotional benefits as exercise. Yet in these uncertain times, it may feel difficult to come by safe and effective exercise options while access to fitness centers, pools and recreation outlets are restricted. Lucky for all of us, that’s the other great thing about exercise in how adaptable it can be. If you feel like throwing in the towel until you can get back to your favorite class or routine, give this some thought:

  • Shorter bouts of activity are just as beneficial! You gain the same health benefits exercising at a moderate intensity for three, 10 minute bouts as you do exercising for 30 minutes straight. If you are stuck at home, consider adding in these shorter bouts of activity throughout the day to decrease boredom and maintain conditioning.
  • It doesn’t require expensive equipment to get in a good workout. By adjusting your number of sets and repetitions and performing a variety of body weight movements, you can still challenge your muscles and overall endurance very effectively.
  • If you’ve been doing the same routine or class for quite some time changing things up with a new at-home workout might be just the thing your body needs for a new challenge. Over time our bodies adapt to the demands we place on it so if you aren’t trying new exercises, increasing the resistance you are working against, etc., your body isn’t getting the same benefits. Utilize this time to experiment with new exercise options to challenge your body and your mind as you learn a new routine.

Now you might be asking, how do I get started? Where do I find exercise resources? How do I know if I’m doing them safely and effectively?

  • Contact your gym or fitness center and see if they have trainers providing virtual fitness coaching. NIFS is proud to continue supporting the residents in the senior living communities we serve with a variety of home-based exercise options to keep our participants moving and your gym might have resources to share as well.
  • Get resourceful with items you already have at home to replace the small equipment you use in your normal routine. Canned goods or water bottles can replace hand weights, a bath towel over carpet can replace a floor mat, a chair back can replace a handrail for balance work, etc.
  • Explore online resources for “senior fitness” or “senior exercise” on Google, YouTube and Amazon. There may be videos for purchase and free trials you can experiment with in your endeavors at home.

Most importantly, focus on your mindset while you are exercising. Recognize that some movement is better than none each day and always listen to your body. Exercise should never be painful so if you try something new and it doesn’t feel quite right, try something else. Consider this chapter in our lives as an opportunity to try new things, keep your body moving, and play it safe. It isn’t a time to push yourself well beyond your comfort zone and limits. Also consider nourishing your body with proper nutrition. It too has a strong impact on mood, energy, and sleep quality.

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Topics: body composition active aging senior living staying active exercise and aging

Working from Home: Ergonomics for Keeping Your Back Healthy

GettyImages-974640830 (1)Many of us suddenly have been thrust into working from home. I am sitting on a folding chair, leaning over my keyboard, looking at my laptop screen that is sitting on a folding table. Needless to say, I am not in an ergonomically sound position. The Mayo Clinic has a great blog about how to set up your workspace perfectly. If you have a real home office with an adjustable chair and monitor, please follow their directions.

Make Your Home Office More Ergonomic

We do not live in an ideal world. After two days of working from home, my back is already sore. We need to do the obvious things to make our new “offices” more ergonomic:

  • Check to make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are at a comfortable 90 degrees.
  • Next, check your arms. Your elbows should be near your sides and at a 90-degree angle.
  • Your keyboard should be a comfortable distance away so that you are not reaching or scrunched.

These are the things you can control through office design.

Sit Correctly

Your behavior will be what saves or destroys your back moving forward. There are a few simple steps and activities you can do to keep your back healthy. The first thing you need to do is to sit up straight. That means sitting up and bringing your shoulder blades back and down. You are most likely not going to be able to sit with perfect posture all day long. When you find yourself slouching, just reset and sit tall and roll your shoulders back and down again. For some of us, it might be uncomfortable to sit with proper posture because we are habitual slouchers. That’s okay too; start by sitting with great posture at the top of every hour.

Strengthen Your Back

The next activities are meant to strengthen your back. The first of these is a plank. Proper form for a plank is where you are in looking at the floor with either your elbows or hands directly beneath your shoulders; your back should be mostly flat with your pelvis rolled like you are trying to put your tailbone into your belly button. Your legs should be straight and together with either your knees or toes touching the ground. You should plan on doing planks 2–3 times a day for at least 20 seconds.

The next activity is a Superman. This is where you lie on your stomach and lift your arms and legs off the ground a few inches. You will do this 10–20 times in a row for 1–2 sets. For best results, alternate with planks.

Stretch Your Back

The last thing you can to save your back is to stretch it. We are going to do 10 cat/cows and 10 bird dogs, both at lunchtime and when you finish up for the day. These stretches are easy to do, and you will be surprised at how much better your back will feel.

Top 3 Tips to Keep Your Back from Getting Sore While Working from Home

These tips will help you survive working from home with your back intact.

Sit Up Straight

  • Practice good posture.
  • Sit tall with your shoulder blades back and down.

Strengthen Your Back 2–3 Times a Day

  • Do 2–3 planks for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do 2 sets of 10-20 Supermans.

Stretch at Lunch and When You Finish for the Day

  • Do 10 cat/cow stretches
  • Do 10 bird dogs

Are you working from home?  How do you incorporate a balance of sitting and moving to avoid a stiff back?  Comment below.

Topics: pain relief stretching ergonomics posture exercises planks working from home

A Fitness Pros Recs for Free Streaming Workouts

Woman Foam RollingGettyImages-590036654Before social distancing was a phrase many of us had heard of, online workouts had been gaining in popularity as a home-based fitness solution for a number of years. In fact, it was anticipated that it would grow by 30% from 2017 to 2022 but I suspect the COVID-19 isolation may bump that percentage further. People have expert trainers at their fingertips and the variety of workouts is endless all while in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Right now, this is one of the only solutions for many people whose gyms are closed and the weather isn’t quite warm enough in many parts of the country to shift our routines outside. There are subscription based services with a monthly fee and a number of great free options as well!

I jumped on the streaming bandwagon last fall when the weather started changing here in Indiana. I’m a fair weather outdoor fitness enthusiast – if I have to wear more than a long sleeve tee, count me out until spring. I decided to explore some free options before deciding whether I wanted to dip my toe in one of the subscription-based services and frankly I haven’t entertained the thought of paying for a subscription since.

What has surprised me most…

The Versatility

There is literally something for whatever mood I am in for any length of time I have available to work out. In any given week, I am doing kickboxing, Pilates, HITT, strength, etc., all for free and from the comfort of home. Talk about a boredom buster and I find it easier to not make excuses because I know there’s always an option.

The Flexibility

You can absolutely get a sweat pouring workout with little to no equipment. This was one of my main doubts as I looked at my workout area in our basement where I have bands, dumbbells, a yoga strap and mat and a 12’x12’ area of gym flooring. Once you peel back the mindset of needing all kinds of bells and whistles and fitness gadgets, it’s really phenomenal how great of a workout you can get with thoughtfully designed body weight movements and a few sets of dumbbells.

So here are my top three recommendations for streaming options you can access on YouTube for free.

  • Fitness Blender – this is where I started and this is where I find myself going back to the most. Kelli and Daniel provide so many different workout options and formats and they are pretty chill in their cueing and demeanor. I don’t personally need a pep talk through my workout. If I’ve motivated myself enough to head down to the basement, I don’t need further convincing once I’ve started and frankly it’s just noise to me. Their workouts are sound and well designed. I also love the fact that they don’t play music in their videos. The music on most online workouts I’ve experienced is basically noise with a beat (man that makes me sound old…) so I much prefer to play my own music while only listening to the trainers cueing.

  • Sydney Cummings – her workouts do a great job of keeping you on your toes. Sydney is really creative in her program design to add compound and dynamic movements. You remain focused on putting the different pieces of the exercise together (and trying to look as smooth as she does) opposed to how bad your muscles are burning or your heart is pounding. One con for me is the cheesy fitness/techno music. I have to turn my music up over hers and then sometimes have a hard time hearing her cueing which you really have to follow because her moves are so dynamic.

  • Yoga by Adrienne - admittedly I could use a little more yoga in my routine each week but when I do squeeze it in, Yoga by Adrienne delivers. Once again, she has so many different options available and has the perfect mixture of a calming tone but adding in some personality...and sometimes her dog joins her on the mat for a quick ear rub. I recently had tension and knots in my neck and shoulders in which I’d gone for a massage and had been stretching but could not seem to get any relief. I found a great routine with Adrienne targeting these areas and within three days that tightness was totally gone. I most often find myself pulling up one of these workouts as a cool down or finisher to a more intense workout and it always feels like the perfect supplement.

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Whether you need a short-term fitness fix until your gym opens again or you are simply wanting to dip your toe in the fitness streaming world like I did, these free options a great place to start!

Topics: exercise program exercises workouts online streaming

Active Aging: Taking an In-Depth Look at Community Programs

4399_KF_3168Community wellness programming is one of the most important ways to keep your residents engaged. As wellness professionals, it’s our job to make sure that the programs being put into play are impactful and enjoyable, and continue to set precedents and work on the varying dimensions of wellness.

ZOOM: Get a New Perspective on Wellness

Have you heard of the book Zoom? It’s a children’s book by Istvan Banyai. Each page zooms out a little bit farther until you see the bigger picture. Sometimes, as wellness leaders, we tend to forget to “zoom out” and look at what’s working and what isn’t.

When looking at the bigger picture, try to take in all of the offerings at the community. What is working? What isn’t working? What programs need to be revamped or even tossed out? How is your community keeping up with fitness and wellness trends in order to stand out among the rest?

Collecting and Analyzing Data

Most communities have a way of collecting attendance data and feedback from residents. If this isn't happening at your community, consider it to be of utmost importance in order to provide quality programming and understand how residents react to evolving programming.

For communities that do not have data collection in place, consider looking at this blog post by Emily Davenport, NIFS Director of Fitness Management and Active Aging Services, to help you understand how to get started. Once you have a clean, simple way of collecting resident data, it will eliminate a lot of stress.

For communities that do have this in place, look through the data to see what is trending at the community and what isn’t. What trends are you seeing? Are you noticing an influx of residents committing to a program for a couple of months and then falling off the wagon? Are you seeing numbers holding steady and noticing a positive benefit from certain programs that are worth keeping the same? Being able to tap into this data collection is key when deciding what works for the community and what needs to be improved upon.

To Keep or Not to Keep?

Taking an in-depth look into offerings is also a great way to understand whether something needs to be let go. A great way to do this is to look at comparative data over the months/years and start asking questions. If you notice that a program or offering fluctuates in attendance, you may want to consider revamping the offering in a new and exciting way. Maybe the program went from being well-attended to never attended. If that’s the case, you probably would be better off taking away that program and adding something else, or recreating a different offering to increase attendance.

Always Leave Them Wanting MORE

When resident attendance starts to increase, keep in mind that your programs need to evolve. This doesn’t mean that you need to constantly reinvent the wheel, but it does mean that you should continually add different aspects to your programs. If we lack evolution of our offerings, our communities start to get stagnant and too comfortable. Including new and innovative ways to get our community members involved is a key piece when standing out as wellness professionals.

The reason most of us have become wellness professionals is to impact the well-being and improve the quality of life for our residents, patients, or team members. It’s our duty to continually provide engaging, fun, and interactive ways for our community members to learn, grow, and live out their lives in a positive way.

Check out our Quickread to evaluate the quality of your wellness program, click below.

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Topics: senior wellness active aging data collection resident wellness programs wellness programming resident engagement data analysis community wellness

Top 5 Balance Training Tools for Seniors

Functional training (also referred to as balance training in our circle) is one of the four main components of fitness that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends be incorporated into weekly exercise programs for all populations. It’s not just cardio, strength training and stretching these days as the physical benefits of functional training ring true for all. The days of static exercises like standing on one foot are behind us – and thank goodness because frankly that’s boring and doesn’t truly simulate how we move in our everyday lives. Dynamic movement patterns, utilizing different training surfaces and unique pieces of exercise equipment can make balance training far more engaging and far more effective.

Here’s our equipment checklist for an effective balance training program:

  • Balance Pads & Beams – there are a variety of foam products on the market that can be utilized to enhance the challenge level of many balance exercises. Performing a balance stance on a foam pad or performing a tandem walk on a foam beam creates an unstable base of support kicking the somatosensory system into overdrive for improved lower body and core stabilization.
  • Biodex Balance System or Wii Fit – technology can make everything a little more fun and when any fitness endeavor feels less like “exercise” it can be a win! The Biodex Balance System provides an array of assessments, drills and games to track progress and engage residents in balance training exercises. The platform of the Wii Fit is a less expensive yet fun option to help residents play games while also working on weight shifting and balance.
  • Agility Ladders – these aren’t just for athletes! Tasking participants with a variety of stepping patterns both front to back and laterally can help improve stability and gait. Qualified fitness professionals can create countless exercises for residents to perform on an agility ladder for low to high-impact movements.
  • Painters Tape – perhaps the most basic piece of equipment of them all! Use painters tape to create a variety of grids and paths on the floor in your fitness center, aerobic studio, or even in an outdoor area. Fitness staff can help guide residents through a variety of movement patterns simulating ADL’s or perhaps other functional movements for recreational activities like GettyImages-526312285 (1)pickleball.
  • BOSU or Wobble Board – much like the challenge of completing a stomach crunch on a stability ball opposed to the stable floor, using a BOSU or Wobble Board while performing side leg lifts or squats helps to further engage the core and lower body muscles to get more bang for your buck out of that movement.

 

Our staff are using these tools every day in senior living communities across the US as part of NIFS Balance Redefined fall prevention programming. Having the equipment is one thing and having the creativity and expertise to apply them in balance classes, one-on-one services and other balance training offerings is another. The price points range greatly on these items from just a few dollars to thousands of dollars but the options are endless in how to creatively engage participants in effective balance training.

Learn more about Balance Redefined 

Topics: equipment improving senior fitness coordination agility balance challenge

Garnering Marketing Gold from Your Community Fitness Program

MMFC-3Our fitness management staff members have some of the best stories around on the impact their fitness programs are having on resident lives in the senior living communities we serve. They hear comments from residents or their family members, they see new faces in classes, and they track the data in programs and services that demonstrate solid engagement. Our staff takes great pride in these affirmations knowing that the work they are so passionately committed to is truly making a difference not just for residents but also for the culture of a community as a whole.

In 2020, NIFS is embarking on a new platform to more effectively bridge the gap from these stories garnered in community fitness centers directly to the marketing and sales teams. We have always partnered with clients on helping them in their marketing and sales messaging, but we are taking this to a new level in 2020 as more clients want to differentiate their communities during prospect tours and via social media in particular. Community fitness centers are becoming more commonplace in the industry. Communities know they need to have the physical space available. However, a truly comprehensive program can be a distinguishing element to showcase through the right storytelling about your resident successes.

How to Capture and Share Your Stories

Here are a few tips to help your community capture and share some of that marketing gold happening in your fitness center!

  1. It starts with the data. Having a strong foundation in your fitness program, where you are tracking total members, visits to the fitness center and classes, engagement in various services each month, etc., can help you identify the wins and program successes you want to spread the word about during prospect tours and social media postings. If you don’t have a solid foundation established to track this data with consistency, it’s difficult to substantiate the impact your program has with any bearing. Click here for more insight on the value of strong data.
  2. Capture the feedback. With a qualified fitness professional at the helm of your fitness program, you have someone who has a strong relationship with your residents, who is coaching them and guiding them in the fitness center, and who hears directly from your residents about the strides they are making in their fitness, balance, and overall well-being. Having a system in place to share resident success stories can be marketing gold to help your consumers identify how living in your community might positively impact their quality of life as well.
  3. Make it visual. On your website and social media channels, avoid use of stock art where possible. If prospects are following you socially, let them genuinely experience your community by seeing your spaces alive with vibrant activity week after week. They’ve likely seen your fitness center, pool, or aerobic studio during a tour, but you can help them truly feel what your residents experience through your images and videos or let your fitness manager go live for an even more engaging experience. Being able to see their friends and acquaintances thriving in a space they once toured can build a much stronger connection than stock art alone.

Let NIFS Help

The era of social media is changing how consumers shop from afar. Don’t miss out on creative opportunities to help your prospects experience your community week after week as they scroll through their Facebook feeds. If you have questions about how to effectively move forward with some of these components or how to have the right structure in place to do so, contact NIFS for more information on our fitness management or consulting services.

Find out more about NIFS Consulting Services >

Topics: senior fitness management data collection success social media marketing in senior living senior wellness consulting