Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Staff High Five: Mike Hertzler

We say it with pride quite regularly, our amazing staff in corporate and senior living fitness centers are what help us serve our clients so well. Their strong educational background in health and fitness helps us set the bar high while their exceptional creativity and relationship building skills allows them to keep their members engaged and asking what’s coming next. Since we have the privilege of getting to know our staff across the country, we thought our followers might like to as well. Join us monthly as we throw a different NIFS team member a High Five.

  • MHertzlerName: Mike Hertzler
  • City, State: Richmond, VA
  • Years with NIFS: 3 months
  • Position: Fitness and Vibrance Director
  • What brought you to NIFS: I was attracted to the opportunity with NIFS because of the resources, the team and evidence-based training. I also wanted to continue to enrich the lives of older adults, using my background, experience, and skillset.
  • What is the most impactful moment you have shared with a member:  Nothing encourages me more than to see a resident or team member work through a tough life event and change their life. It is by far my favorite part of my career; is seeing their progress and quality of life changing as a result. More recently, I filled in for a program, and 4 of the participants in the class were new to the program. And I spoke with one of their spouses soon after the class finished, and she says, “That’s the happiest I’ve seen my husband in years!” Moments like that never get old to me!
  • What separates a NIFS fitness pro from the rest:  NIFS requires the highest level of creativity, as well as comes with a large support system/network, program incentives, and resources right at your fingertips. It’s amazing! I enjoy the open dialogue with our team, balance of structure, and autonomy NIFS provides me. NIFS also requires a high level of education, experience, and specialized certifications while working with the older adult population.  
  • What is your favorite thing about working at your client site: I truly enjoy working with older adults! I didn’t know exactly where my education and career would take me, but I’m sure glad it brought me here. There’s something special about working in a retirement community setting, and the relationships you form. I learn just as much from the residents, and I’ve made a lot of new friends along the way.
  • What motivates you:  By helping others, and doing things for other people. I’m also motivated to be the best friend, leader, husband, and father one day that I can be.  
  • What is your favorite hobby:  I love being outdoors, camping, hiking, boating, and exploring new areas. I think if it were possible, I would spend all day outside!

Interested in learning more about our staffing services? Click below for what best fits your needs.


Topics: nifs fitness management staffing nifs staff

The Health Benefits of Being Outdoors

GettyImages-1189775053Every Sunday, I make a cup of coffee and head outside. I often just sit and listen to the sounds all around me. I take it all in. Even now I can feel the sun on my face, sense the gentle breeze, the sound and feel of the chair as it gently rocks back and forth. It is so easy for me to close my eyes and bring myself right back to that moment whenever I need to. There is something about being outdoors that feels so important to me. Every experience in my life seems more fulfilling while I am doing it outdoors.

For example, I love running outdoors. If you ask me to run on the treadmill, I have more of an attitude of I will do it because I know it is good for me, and not so much because I love it. The same goes for swimming. Put me in the ocean and I am in my glory but the same does not seem to exist for me when it comes to jumping into an indoor pool.

There have been studies that talk about the health benefits of being outdoors and perhaps these studies can more definitively describe the feelings and benefits most human beings experience when they are outdoors.

Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

It's not clear exactly why outdoor excursions have such a positive mental effect. Yet, in a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.

"When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts," says Dr. Strauss.

Digging a bit deeper, it appears that interacting with natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits. For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body's fight-or-flight response.

The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing effect, according to Dr. Strauss. "Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry".

As the weather changes and summer begins to roll back in, find ways to get back outside and enjoy the outdoors. The no cost key to living a happier, healthier life.

Topics: senior wellness mental health outdoor exercise

Staff High Five: Brian DuVall

We say it with pride quite regularly, our amazing staff in corporate and senior living fitness centers are what help us serve our clients so well. Their strong educational background in health and fitness helps us set the bar high while their exceptional creativity and relationship building skills allows them to keep their members engaged and asking what’s coming next. Since we have the privilege of getting to know our staff across the country, we thought our followers might like to as well. Join us monthly as we throw a different NIFS team member a High Five.

  • BDuVallName: Brian DuVall
  • City, State: Carmel, IN
  • Years with NIFS: a little over 2 years
  • Position: Marketing Graphic Designer
  • What brought you to NIFS: After 10 years at my previous job, I felt I needed a change, but spent a few months doing freelance. I realized I still liked working downtown and being in this area, so when the position opened up I was thrilled.
  • What have you learned about NIFS programs and services for our clients: Working with Emily, Kara and Ashley, I understand the need for fitness not only in the professional field, but in retirement and beyond. My previous employment, I really didn’t have time, or should I say, felt I had time for fitness. Here I am blessed to be around it all day and can take an hour out of my day to walk two flights of stairs to the fitness center. I wish I had the programs NIFS corporate and active aging offers when I was ten years younger! And of course, having parents and in-laws who are retired, and seeing that they either aren’t active or active enough, makes me feel happy to hear the positive effects our programs have on the community, and possibly have a hand in making that possible. And, hopefully, after we get back to some sort of new normal, be in a position to reach more communities with newer programs that I had a hand in making possible.
  • What do you enjoy most about supporting NIFS staff and clients with your graphic design work: I really feel like it’s to help people in my own creative way, to solve problems. I dabble in fine art from time to time but not a creative person in the purest sense. More of a mechanical/graphical/literal type.
  • What motivates you: Continuing from the previous question, when someone presents me with a challenge, I enjoy trying to figure it out, and when I feel a really good idea hit, the blinders come on and I can’t think about anything else.
  • What is your favorite hobby: I have a few. Kids activities take up a lot of my time, but most of the time if I have a free moment, I like to play guitar. Also, ever since working here, you can feel the need to stay fit, so along with working out during lunch here at NIFS.

Interested in learning more about our staffing services? Click below for what best fits your needs.


Topics: nifs staff

Residents Seek Quality Senior Living Fitness Programs

GettyImages-674714126 (1)I recently had a resident from one of our client sites in Illinois contact me wanting to know which senior living communities in greater-Indianapolis NIFS was partnered with as she would soon be relocating to be closer to her daughter. She wanted to refine her search to communities where NIFS was similarly providing a robust health and fitness program to what she had come to experience in her current community. She had done some exploring on her own and quickly recognized that communities simply having an onsite fitness center with some weekly exercise classes did not measure up for her.

Think about that for just a minute, she was making visits to communities and spending time on websites; a fitness center walk-thru during a tour or clicking on some pictures of amenities on a website were not showing her enough. This informed consumer understood the value and distinction of a professionally managed fitness program and she wanted to narrow her focus to where she knows NIFS helps communities deliver on their brand promise of supporting residents in living well. A couple of observations on her part that she loved about her NIFS program:

  • Amazing Staff: she commented on how much she enjoys and appreciates the knowledgeable and degreed NIFS staff at her community. She shared how much she valued the relationship with the staff and the creative and engaging ways they keep her motivated.
  • Robust Programming: she loves a good challenge and finds that NIFS exercise challenges, incentives and educational programs keep her motivated. She likes the regular schedule of NIFS initiatives and is always asking what’s next!

Community leadership or life enrichment staff in senior living communities might not even see the distinction the way this resident does. After all, fitness is only component of an overall wellness program and/or community to operate. Or perhaps you are thinking other seniors wouldn’t make such an astute observation in a fitness program.

When NIFS first begins staffing services at a community and offering creative programs to engage residents, one of the common pieces of feedback we hear from clients is, “We didn’t even know what we were missing or that you would be able to get as many different residents engaged.” They knew they wanted to do better when bringing us in, but how quickly we’d make an impact regularly takes them by surprise. It’s always one of our favorite moments in a client relationship!

Here are a couple of examples of that program growth at NIFS client locations:


In particular, take a look at the Total Members, Classes Offered/Month and Class Participants/Month. There are not a significant number of new classes added to the calendar at either community but through our ability to recruit and engage more residents in the fitness program, overall class participation increased by 46% across these two communities. If you think your group fitness participation is strong now, how would it look with an increase of almost 50%? What about a 34% increase in the number of one-on-one appointments conducted during the month? What kind of message would that participation convey to current and prospective residents? Is that a distinction your community needs?

This holds true with many residents as well. Once they see and experience the distinction, the fitness program becomes one of their biggest areas of pride in the community and something they vocally champion to visitors, guests and family members. Over a decade ago when I was still managing a NIFS fitness center, it was always interesting to hear the oohs and ahhs of guests of residents who joined them for a class or came into the fitness center to exercise with them. They would often tell me how it compared to the fitness center in the community in which they lived or in comparison to the resources available to them aging in place at home. Again, they had to experience it to see the distinction.

Perhaps it’s time to evaluate the quality of your wellness program to discover opportunities for your community to create distinction in the active lifestyle of your residents. It may also be time to consider your marketing message and how you are positioning your fitness program with prospects.

Evaluate the quality of your wellness program, download our quick read below!

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Topics: senior fitness resident wellness programs resident fitness improving senior fitness

What Corporate Fitness Members Gain from Group Fitness

GettyImages-1195045259When waking up early in the morning, it can be extremely difficult to make it through a morning workout by yourself or perhaps you may not push yourself as hard through the last round of squats as you power through alone. There is a quite a bit that can be said about exercising in a group and how it births motivation.

Group fitness classes are not a new concept, but there has been a major increase around the corporate fitness center I staff with the rising numbers of group strength training, Tabata, core, stretching and HIIT style classes. Research has shown us that the healthy actions of our peers tend to rub off on us. It has also been proven that people who are trying to lose weight tend to spend quite a bit of time with their friends who are on the same trajectory towards similar health goals. Working out tends to be more enjoyable and communal when you are a part of a pack.

Group fitness classes allow individuals to increase their commitment to a fitness routine. Working out with a group has been linked to enhanced consistency, motivation, longer duration of being able to work out, amazing conversation and feeling inspired by others. Working out with a group of peers or friends drives consistency in such a way that when there’s someone who hasn’t shown, there’s accountability and positive peer pressure to help swerve against quitting or skipping a class. One study done by the National Library of Medicine showed that 95% of individuals who started a weight-loss programs with their friends completed them vs 76% of individuals who tried to tackle the goals themselves.

Group fitness allows you the benefit and advantage of being able to diversify your workouts. There are only so many exercises that you can perform alone and sometimes you may hit a point where you are doing the same exercises, which tends to get boring. Throwing other participants into the mix with a dynamic exercise instructor allows your workouts to get creative and reduces the urge to feel lonely from working out solo all the time. Having multiple individuals to exercise with opens up the catalog to be creative when it comes to partner resisted exercises, adding in exercises that others have recently learned or trying new things together.

Last but not least, group fitness permits one to capitalize on endorphins. Group workouts brings so much more benefit to your mental health rather than trying to always tackle a workout solo. When you’re a part of a great fitness classes with a bunch of good people, this kind of community and team effort makes you feel great outside of just the temporary boost you may experience after one small workout.

Whether you are just getting started with exercising or you are looking to change things up in your fitness routine, consider group fitness classes to learn new exercises and get some extra motivation along the way!


Topics: group exercise corporate fitness group fitness corporate fitness programming