Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Joy Higbee

Recent Posts by Joy Higbee:

Senior living residents take on the NIFS Summer Games

Summer Fitness Games_AAEvery 4 (or 5) years a special summer event comes around that makes us all want to feel like an athlete. This year, residents in CCRCs from Minnesota to Florida showed that they have what it takes to compete in the NIFS Summer Games. NIFS fitness staff put together 8-10 different events that residents could compete in over the course of the Games. On the surface, this program looked like a way to celebrate the summer, but there was certainly more intention behind the design.

Functional Movements

The most obvious goal of the Summer Games program is movement. Each sport was chosen as a way for residents to motivate themselves to get some physical exercise into the day. But, while they were enjoying themselves, they were also performing functional movements in each activity. Some were obvious. For example, “gymnastics” was actually a series of balance exercises using cones, foam pads, and other tools. Walking and swimming events were also an obvious way to get more people to exercise to earn their medals. But what about sports like basketball, soccer, and table tennis? On the surface, it’s “just” tossing a ball at a hoop or kicking one into a basket, but have each of these incorporates other important skills as well. Think about it: to throw a basketball into a hoop you not only have to practice hand-eye coordination, cognitively calculate depth and force, but most people also perform a mini-squat to lob the ball up toward the hoop. For soccer, many of the same skills apply plus you have to balance on one foot to be able to line up and kick the ball.

Social Wellness

I think we can all recognize that the last 18 months have taken a toll on most people’s social and emotional wellness. One major barrier for some residents to come back to the fitness center and to group fitness classes is that they feel like they’ve lost their fitness. They are worried they won’t be able to keep up and so they are missing out on the physical benefits of regular exercise. One way to combat that feeling is to get people out of their homes and back into the social situations they love. Once they start to remember what they’ve been missing in the fitness center and with their friends and neighbors, it’s more motivating to come back to their regular activities.

And, of course, FUN!

At the end of the day there’s always going to be some element of trying to improve quality of life and infusing some fun into the community. For the NIFS Summer Games, much of the enjoyment for participants came from the competition aspect. Over 400 medals were handed out to participants across the program! Whether they were competing with other residents to see who could earn the most medals or challenging their own past performances, this one definitely brought out the athlete in everyone!

Get Our Guide to Successful Fitness Programs

Topics: senior living fitness programs for seniors

Sit-to-Stand is the new go-to move for senior living residents

07.2021_sit to stand_CHPK 2This summer, eight different NIFS fitness managers lead their residents through the Sit-to-Stand Challenge. Residents were asked to set a goal each day and complete a certain number of sit-to-stand exercises. They could group them all together or break them up throughout the day. The program was received with much enthusiasm as residents completed an average of 367 sit-to-stands per person during the month!

So, why build a program based all around one exercise? For one, it gives everyone an attainable goal. Someone might say no to something where they are asked to do 10 exercises at a time even if it’s just three days a week, but everyone has time to just do one exercise per day, right? But why the sit-to-stand? Check out these benefits:

Maintain Independence

The seemingly simple movement of getting up out of a chair is something many of us take for granted. Have you ever counted how many times you stand up throughout the day? My guess is that it’s a lot. Giving older adults the continued confidence that they can get out of a chair with no help is huge for maintaining independence and comfortable living.

Fall Prevention

When older adults are looking to maintain independence, their main concern is often fall prevention. Many times when people thing about fall prevention, they think of balance-specific exercises like a single-leg balance or a tandem walk. What’s sometimes missed is the strength and coordination aspect of balance training. The sit-to-stand is a great lower-body exercise because it incorporates most of the big muscle groups in the legs and hips. Strengthening those muscles helps maintain stability and therefore prevents falls.

“Prehab” and Injury Prevention

Another major benefit of strengthening leg muscles is the support those muscles then give to joints in the hips, knees, and ankles. If someone is thinking about a knee or hip replacement, one of the things that a surgeon might suggest is to do some “prehab” or basically to strengthen the area around the joint before surgery so that recover will be easier and rehab will be more familiar. Think of it as giving yourself a head start on recovery. Who doesn’t want that?

Just about every piece of feedback on the Sit-to-Stand Challenge sent by participants was about how much stronger they feel after just one month and about how they want to continue doing the sit-to-stands in their normal exercise routine.

Check out what our participants are saying about the impact this simple challenge had on their strength and their confidence:

“About one quarter of the way through the challenge, I found it so easy to get up out of a chair. I was amazed at how easy it was getting up. I will be keeping it up from now on, but with 8-10 per day rather than 40 per day. Good program!” –Virsile, Chelsea, MI

“LOVED the sit-to-stand challenge along with all the other motivational activities.” –Jennie, Palm City, FL

“Probably many of us hadn't realized how much more sitting we were doing during COVID quarantine. I can tell I am stronger all over, not just lower body, from the continuous reminders to stay active and fit.” -Nancy, Indianapolis, IN

If you could choose one exercise to focus on perfecting over the course of a month, what would it be?

Get Our Guide to Successful Fitness Programs

Topics: senior living senior living wellness programs sit to stand

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: senior wellness motivation participation personal interest wellness programs relationships

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

Water Volleyball Tournament Is the Definition of Active Aging Week 2018

Active Aging Week is always an exciting time for the NIFS Active Aging team. Our team members work hard to create opportunities for the residents ranging from sports, recreation, and trivia to meditation, education, and beyond with the goal of celebrating a positive view of aging. NIFS staff members across the country went above and beyond this year to encourage residents to step outside of their comfort zones and celebrate actively aging all week.

This spirit was most certainly demonstrated by the water volleyball tournament that took place between our senior living sites in Chicago, IL, and Lincolnwood, IL this year. I had the opportunity to speak with both Ruth, the NIFS Fitness Manager at Lincolnwood, and Leah, the NIFS Fitness Manager at Chicago, to see how the day went. Check it out!

NIFS | Seniors playing water volleyball

Q: What inspired the idea of a water volleyball tournament between Lincolnwood and Chicago?

Ruth: I really wanted to put together more activities between our Illinois sites, and water volleyball seemed like a great way to get our residents together and get to know the other community. Leah did a great job of getting her residents to practice and actually come with their A game this year. I really would like to host chair volleyball tournaments to include Wyndemere as well since they don’t have a pool.

Leah: Last year, Lincolnwood came to the Chicago site to play water volleyball. We assembled a team for the event without ever practicing. The Lincolnwood players told the Chicago players that they “skunked us,” and that didn’t sit so well with our competitive residents. A rematch with Lincolnwood was one of the first requests I received when I started in Chicago last March. From there it was just a matter of timing, and we thought tying it into Active Aging Week was a great idea!

Q: So, let’s get the obvious question out of the way…who won?

Leah: I’m proud to say we brought the Poinsettia Trophy home this year. We had several residents who had played last year say they would only play this year if we practiced first. I put four practice times on the schedule, and the players enjoyed it so much they requested two additional practices. They were taking no chances this year and their hard work showed…we “skunked” them!

Ruth: Yeah, yeah they beat us...this year! We have an ongoing water volleyball group here at Lincolnwood that meets on Saturday mornings. They have a team resident leader, and honestly they were overly confident this year and really didn’t play to their full potential. Nonetheless, we loved having the Chicago team here and enjoyed the time together since we do a lunch afterwards as well.

Q: What do you think the residents enjoyed the most about the tournament?

Leah: Play is one of the best things you can do for your mind, body, and soul; and unfortunately, it seems like we lose sight of that as we age. This tournament gave our residents the opportunity to reconnect with their younger selves, become part of a supportive team, play, and have fun! Our team is a competitive bunch. They were jumping, leaping, and diving for the ball. One resident told me after the tournament that being on this team was the best workout and the most fun she had had in years.

Ruth: Definitely promoting water volleyball is a way to reach out to our residents as another form of exercise beyond the standard fitness classes. They love the competition aspect and really enjoy developing as players, regardless of their age! Many of them played volleyball throughout their life.

Q: Were there any surprises? Anything that stands out from the day?

Leah: My residents were shocked and not too happy to find the beach ball at Lincolnwood was quite a lot bigger and heavier than the ball we have at Chicago. It really threw the team off during the first game (which is the only game we lost at the tournament). It was fun to see them adjust their style of playing.

Ruth: We actually were equally surprised last year when we had to play with a smaller-version volleyball; perhaps we need to come up with an in-between ball. I think the biggest surprise for us was how prepared the Chicago players were, their setups were definitely practiced.

Leah: There were many highlights of the day, but the thing that stood out to me most was the game-winning point of the final game. There was so much tension in the air as our resident made the final serve. When the ball dropped to the water and scored the final point, the Chicago residents just erupted with a cheer. On our way home the team asked if we could continue to play once a week and open it up to all senior living residents. It is now on our schedule every Wednesday at 1 pm!

Ruth: The good news is that our players surprised me by not being upset over the loss; they embraced the camaraderie among both communities. They also appreciated the positive comments regarding the pool size and the luncheon, but they are excited about next year and heading back to playing at The Clare.

Q: Do you have any advice for fitness staff who want to host a similar tournament in their community?

Leah: I definitely recommend having a few practices before playing an actual game and communicating with the other facility about towels and water. The site in Chicago provides towels at the pool, but Lincolnwood does not, so I was thankful Ruth let me know that in advance so we were prepared.

I’d be sure to clarify the rules with the players before the game.

Ruth was kind enough to coordinate a buffet lunch after the tournament so all of the players got to enjoy a lunch together. Timing wise, we allowed 30 minutes between arriving at Lincolnwood and starting the game, and 30 minutes between the last game and lunch. We could have done 20 minutes between each instead because our residents transitioned more quickly than expected. In addition to the Poinsettia Trophy, Ruth also prepared a laminated certificate for the winning team, which we framed and will hang in our pool area. The residents are extremely proud of the certificate and have brought their grandkids in to show them.

Ruth: Ditto on the above. Have those rules laid out in advance so all the players understand before the tournament and set up practices months to weeks before the actual game! It really is just a fun way to bring communities together and showcase NIFS’s work in providing programs that continue to encourage a “healthy lifestyle” for both the mind and body to equal active aging!

Thanks for sharing, Ruth and Leah!

To learn more about partnering with NIFS to manage your senior living community, click the link below. 

Partner with NIFS to improve your senior living community

Topics: water active aging week, competition senior living activities exercise and aging activities calendar senior living adding fun to senior fitness

Modifying Senior Fitness Programs for Assisted Living

Maintaining a well-run, popular senior fitness program in a CCRC can be tough. Often just managing the independent living fitness center is a full-time job for someone. Then, as residents move through the continuums in a community, they often start to miss out on the robust programming that was offered to them in independent living. So, what happens when a manager wants to extend programming into assisted living without adding a huge burden on themselves?


One answer could be to simply modify existing programs to better fit the assisted living population. This way, managers save some time with planning and can use many of the same program materials (which means saving money, too).

Here are a variety of tips for modifying senior fitness programs for assisted living: 

1. Make it a team effort.

One of the simplest ways to change an incentive program is to take it from an individual effort challenge to a team goal. For example, if the goal of the program in IL is to have a resident achieve 15 group fitness class visits over the course of a month, maybe the goal for AL would be to have the entire group achieve 35 group fitness classes over the month. Obviously, the goal numbers will depend on availability of classes and residents who want to participate, but you get the idea. Take it one step further and create a tracking poster to keep in the assisted living fitness area so residents can keep up on their progress.

2. Get volunteers involved.ThinkstockPhotos-533552808.jpg

Another way to make sure your assisted living program is successful is to involve some volunteers. Let’s say you’re doing a one-mile walking event for IL and you want to run the same event in assisted living. For IL, you can probably just market the event, promise some water and granola bars at the “finish line,” and residents will come out to participate. You could try the same thing in AL, but it certainly wouldn’t go over as well.

Instead, try recruiting volunteers (either staff or residents) and pair up with people while they walk. This way, your walk becomes not only about physical health, but also about social wellness and emotional wellness. Plus, most people would think of this event as an activity rather than just exercise, and so they are more likely to attend.

3. Recognize participants.

This isn’t actually a modification because it works equally well in both levels of care, but it’s still a great way to make the program a success. People love a recognition for their work. In assisted living, this can mean getting a little creative. Yes, you can stick with the typical throw-a-party-for-participants-at-the-end-of-the-program reward. Or you can try something a little different.

One of the simplest but most effective examples of this was during our Fitness Freeze last year. During this program, residents earn snowflakes for visits during the month of December. Instead of hanging them in the fitness center, one manager hung the snowflakes earned by assisted living residents on their doors. This resulted in two major positives:

  • When family and friends visited, residents could brag about their fitness center participation.
  • It brought more attention to the program and other residents started asking about how they could earn snowflakes.

***

What other ways can you think of to modify existing independent living programming for other areas of the community?

Interesting in knowing how our staff can impact your fitness program?  Download our quick read, simply click below.

Download Now

Topics: senior fitness assisted living programming independent living

3 Video Game Systems for Senior Living Communities

WP_20130424_016.jpgTwenty years ago, if someone had suggested purchasing video games for a retirement community, they would have been laughed at. “Those are for kids,” would have been the response. “No one over 60 is ever going to be interested in that.” I’m here to tell you times have changed! Now, everywhere you look people of all ages are getting in on the action and testing their skills in the virtual world.

Here are just three of the systems popping up in communities all over the country.

Nintendo Wii

This is probably the most popular one for communities because it’s been around for quite a while now and it’s fairly easy to use. The Nintendo Wii is a low-cost, commercially available interactive gaming system that gives immediate visual feedback in balance training. For most Wii games, players hold a remote and use it as the golf putter, baseball bat, bowling arm, etc. to play.

An optional add-on is the balance board for the Wii Fit game, which enables a user to test his or her center of balance with a visual display onscreen that shows what percentage of their body weight they carry over each foot. Those with an uneven center of balance will unnaturally compensate for their imbalance, which can cause their posture to become misaligned, increasing the level of stress on their bodies. The game allows users to learn about their balance and provides them with tips for improving an uneven center of balance with several different training modes, including yoga, strength training, balance games, and aerobics.

Xbox Kinect

The Kinect has been around for a few years as well, but it’s certainly newer technology than the Wii. There is no remote to hold or board to stand on. There is simply a camera that points at the general space where you’re playing and then your body is the “remote.” The Kinect generally requires a bigger space than the Wii and it’s more expensive, but the games are also more advanced. If you are working with a more active community, this may be the way to go. There is a lot more foot movement required for most of the Kinect games, so be sure to educate residents on safety before really getting into the action.

PlayStation Move

The idea of the PlayStation Move is very similar to the Wii. Each person has a remote and their motion is captured by a camera that’s plugged into the gaming system. I don’t have personal experience with this system, but from the reviews it looks like the movements and reaction time of the sensors/camera are much better on the Move than on the other two systems. Of course, that’s coming with a higher price tag, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons yourself. The Move offers a wide array of game options, from the mostly sedentary to the action-packed.

All three systems are great options for your senior living community. They do range in price, but you can often find a refurbished/used version of the system online or at your local GameStop store. Each system has a range of exercise options, from the traditional fitness games, to dance games, to more of the recreational pastimes. No matter which console you choose, they all encourage more physical activity in the community, and isn’t that the goal at the end of the day?

Also, there’s an added perk of having these systems available at your community. When grandkids come to visit, these consoles provide a great activity that spans generations. Think of how impressed that 10-year-old will be when grandpa shows them how to score big at the Home Run Derby on Wii!

How have you used gaming systems to improve your senior fitness program’s physical activity?

Download: Why is exercise important for seniors? >

Topics: balance senior fitness senior living community technology video games

Benefits of Collaborative Programming with Senior Living Communities

“Come on!”

“No pressure!”

“You can do it!”

Those are just a few of the phrases you’ll hear thrown out in the last round of the Semi-Annual Corn-Toss tournament held between several CCRCs in Indiana every spring and fall. This is one of many multicommunity events that NIFS fitness center managers put on every year. Sometimes events are competitive (such as corn-toss, water volleyball, or pickleball), and sometimes they are more educational (wellness seminars). A lot of coordination is involved (scheduling, transportation, food, and so on), but it’s always worth it!

ThinkstockPhotos-510313194.jpgHere are some of the ways the residents reap the benefits of collaborative programming with senior living communities outside of their own.

1. It’s an opportunity to make new friends.

It seems like making new friends only gets tougher as we get older. With social media, email, and easy modes of transportation, it’s so easy to keep up with the friends and family we already have in our lives, so why would you bother meeting anyone new? Study after study has shown that a healthy social life has amazing, positive effects on lifespan/longevity and quality of life.

Collaborative programming between communities creates a situation that facilitates new friendships because residents already know they have something in common. If everyone in a room is playing in a Euchre tournament, a resident can guess that the person sitting next to them at the table enjoys playing cards. Voila! Easy icebreaker! It’s also fun to see residents who consistently participate really getting to know each other. They start to make friends with residents at new communities, but also with neighbors who perhaps they hadn’t really known.

2. Staff can share ideas while residents experience a new way of learning.

As fitness staff, we spend a lot of our time trying to teach people about how to be healthy. We give advice about fitness and nutrition and staying active, but after a while, it can start to sound a little like a broken record. For residents, hearing about the same health/fitness topics from the same people means sometimes it’s in one ear and out the other. These collaborative events provide a great opportunity for residents to learn from someone else who has a different teaching style. Sometimes, hearing the same good information presented in a new way can be all it takes to make the advice “click” for a person.

3. Competition drives participation.

This doesn’t hold true for everyone, but at many communities, competition drives participation. If residents know they are practicing for a tournament against a “rival” community (however they may define that), they might be more interested. This not only means more participation on the day of the competition, but also leading up to the competition. And who knows, maybe during one of those practice sessions residents will see a bulletin board for your next fitness incentive and decide to sign up for that, too.

***

Multicommunity programs are fun and educational, and build camaraderie among residents. Whether informative or competitive, they are a great opportunity to learn from each other and about each other, and they always lead to a fun time.

Does your community regularly participate in collaborative programming with other communities?

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

Topics: participation senior living communities CCRC Programs and Services programming competition

Active Aging: Using the Fitness Freeze to keep visit numbers up

fitness_freeze1.jpgEveryone is planning their holiday vacations and parties. As the manager of a fitness center, your job is about to get just a little tougher. This time of year it’s incredibly difficult to keep the attendance up in the fitness center. I think a lot of members think they can just “put it off” until January 1st and that it’s not that big of a deal if they miss a few weeks of workouts. Unfortunately for those people, there can be major losses after just two weeks of skipping workouts. According to this article, it only takes two and a half to three weeks of inactivity to start seeing strength declines; and losses in cardiovascular fitness can happen even more rapidly.

So, in order to combat those declines in our Active Aging sites, we’ve created the Fitness Freeze program. The basic idea of the program is as follows:

Members earn a snowflake for each week where they exercise three or more times. This can include attending a group fitness class, working out in the fitness center, or exercising on their own somewhere else. At some sites, residents can earn a “bonus” snowflake by completing an assigned task such as a scavenger hunt, an express workout, or trying a new machine or exercise. As members earn their snowflakes, the manager will hang them up throughout the fitness center. The effect is thrilling. Each fitness center becomes a “snowy” wonderland as more and more residents earn their snowflakes.

It’s a fun, simple program that has proven extremely effective in our Active Aging sites. Last year was the first running of the Fitness Freeze program and it resulted in:

  • 11% increase in the total visits from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.
  • 8% increase in members gained from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.
  • 26% increase in the number of appointments held from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.

Our team has set even higher goals for the 2015 Fitness Freeze and I can’t wait to see the results! How are you keeping your members motivated during the holidays?

It's not just about creative programming, how do you plan to take your program to the next level?

Download our eBook below for strategies to take your fitness center from vacant to vibrant!

Download Now

 

Topics: active aging senior living senior living wellness programs

How to create more effective wellness program

Planning ahead is central to what we do.  It’s how we create successful initiatives like our March Into Better Balance Challenge, the 30 Day Squat Challenge, Club PED, National Senior Health and Fitness Day, Active Aging Week, Maintain Not Gain, and several other offerings. One of the ways that planning ahead helps us better serve our clients is with program evaluation.  We’ve written before about the importance of measuring the impact of activities in your wellness program.  In order to effectively evaluate what you’re offering, you have (1) know the programs you’re running, and (2) do the work to set up the program well.

Beyond program evaluation, there are a lot of factors our staff consider to pull off successful programs, and the one element that holds all of that programming together is our planning process.  In fact, our team is already hard at work filling out their 2016 program planning templates. The planning tool allows managers to look at several elements at once:

 1. Balance

Viewing the year-at-a-glance program plan is really helpful for our staff who are looking to provide a balanced programming strategy.  For example, staff can spread out their larger wellness initiatives and sprinkle smaller programs into parts of the year that are typically busier for members. They can also create a balance between types of programming such as fitness incentives, wellness programs, and educational pieces.

 2. Deadlines

Probably the most practical reason to plan ahead is to make sure all the prep work gets done in time. Many of the events and initiatives run by our managers involve other staff and departments. Planning ahead allows you to make sure you can get everything done on time. For example, let’s say you have a field day event planned. You’ll need to work backwards from the date of the event to be sure you have time to order supplies, advertise the event to your members, make arrangements for food and drinks, and plan what you’ll need for set-up. All of those details can take six to eight weeks or more to come together depending on how involved your program is. You can’t get started a week before and expect it to run smoothly.

 3. Community Collaboration

When we plan out the structure of our year ahead of time, it gives us a chance to take that plan to the other departments within the client – be it at a corporate site or in senior living – to allow for optimal collaboration.  And the possibilities for truly engaging programming is great. Our partners offer fantastic creativity to boost initiatives for better participation and for a more well-rounded approach.  Planning in this way also helps us avoid overlap with other key initiatives at the client so that the audience (employees or residents) isn’t confused, frustrated, or otherwise dis-incentivized to participate. 

What’s next?

If it’s true that failing to plan is planning to fail, then how do you go about building this plan?  Below are some tips and tricks to get you started.

Build programs with purpose

We’re not spending time and energy on programs for them to go unattended. And none of us really have time to slap spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.  Instead, consider developing programs that have a purpose behind them.  It might be that you’re trying to tie into participation goals for the fitness center, or group exercise classes.  Then design the offering geared toward that goal. 

Establish annual campaigns

Members love a good tradition, and you can easily play into that nostalgia with fun programming that occurs annually. Competitions with bragging rights have worked well for us.

Look at untapped areas within your environment

In our corporate settings, sometimes the cafeteria or outdoor settings provide new spaces for creative programming.  In senior living communities, the pool may be a huge opportunity for social, intellectual, and/or physical programming. Grab our quick read on how to grow aquatics participation or click below.

  CTA Aquatics Programming

 

Our creative staff have come up with creative ways for drawing in participation for programs in a variety of settings.  Check their success with the Fitness Freeze, Meditation, and NIFS150 programs. Subscribe to our blog to receive future posts about our successful programs.

Subscribe to NIFS blog

Topics: programming for wellness effective wellness programming senior living wellness programs