Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Mechelle Meadows

Recent Posts by Mechelle Meadows:

Corporate Fitness: Free Workout Friday

C  Users kgootee Dropbox Images Worksite Fitness resized 600We don’t really know how other management companies do what they do for their clients; corporate fitness services aren’t easy to secret shop.  But we are great at what we do – we’ve got the satisfaction survey feedback and testimonials to back that up.  If your company works with NIFS in their corporate fitness center, there are a TON of services our staff provides to your employees at no extra cost.  Yes, that’s right.  We give a TON of services that are FREE to your members.  We take the “it costs too much” barrier for much of your workforce out of the equation up front because our primary interest is in helping your people live well. We don’t have shareholders to impress, and we don’t put up fancy bells and whistles that mask a very lean menu of complimentary services.  Nope – we’re not fancy-schmancy.  Instead we are a hard working, compassionate crew who are focused on serving your employees.

So enough babbling about us.  We’ve provided a FREE workout for you below along with a listing of some of our many complimentary services that are available to your employees when you provide NIFS as the staffing partner for your corporate fitness center.  There are a lot of great benefits we provide to the client as well – to find out more about those benefits, contact us.

This workout includes both strength exercises as well as cardio intervals to really kick up the intensity and burn more calories in a short amount of time.

  1. Body weight squats: 12-15 reps
  2. Push-ups (regular or on knees): 10-12 reps
  3. High knees: 30-45 sec.
  4. 1-arm dumbbell row: 12-15 reps per arm
  5. Alternating lunges: 20 reps (10 per leg)
  6. Mountain climbers: 30-45 sec.
  7. Shoulder press: 12-15 reps
  8. Overhead tricep extension: 12-15 reps
  9. Bicep curl: 12-15 reps

*Go back to #1 and repeat workout for a total of 2-3 sets, as time allows.

Finish with one round of each of the following for core:

  1. Stability ball crunch: 20 reps
  2. Russian twist: 20 reps (10 per side, alternating)
  3. Core plank: hold until fatigue
  4. Supermans: 20 reps

Want more workouts like this? Consider using NIFS to professionally staff your worksite wellness or fitness center. Here is a list of all the completely free services that NIFS’ staff members can offer to your employees:

  • Exercise Consultations- A NIFS health/fitness specialist will sit down with the employee, asking him/her specific questions relating to their currently level of activity, past experience with exercise, exercise preferences, and goals in order to make detailed recommendations.
  • Exercise Prescriptions- Upon completing a consultation, your employees will be able to receive a detailed workout plan from a NIFS health/fitness specialist. The employee will run through the workout at least once with a staff member to insure that he/she understands the workout, demonstrates proper form, and feels confident repeating the workout on their own for the following 6-12 weeks. Members may have repeated exercise prescriptions.
  • Individual Fitness Assessments (IFA)- Employees will have the opportunity to schedule a series of exercise tests to gauge their current level of fitness in five different categories: body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity and flexibility. The NIFS health/fitness specialist will administer the tests accurately and give a thorough breakdown of the employees of their results, as well as show comparisons to national averages for their age/gender. These results prove to be valuable in helping the employee more clearly define their exercise goals.
  • Routine Blood Pressure Screenings- Any employee may utilize the NIFS staff to routinely check his/her blood pressure. The NIFS staff will keep a log of the readings that the employee can share with his/her family physician, which can assist in decisions of medication. When high blood pressure is identified, NIFS staff can make recommendations for exercise, diet and stress level to help lower those levels.
  • Educational Print Materials- Each month, NIFS staff will provide one newsletter, one John Journal and at least two bulletin boards to be posted throughout the worksite. These materials include a wide range of topics, and the content covers national health observances and events specific to that particular month.
  • Stretch Breaks- If you are responsible for hosting a long meeting for your employees, contact NIFS staff to present a “stretch break.” Stretch breaks are designed to last 5-10 minutes and will leave your employees more energized and tension-free, keeping them more alert and productive in the middle of lengthy meetings.
Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program corporate fitness worksite wellness muscle toning NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment weight training

Corporate Fitness: Foam Roller Therapy for Beginners

foam rollerYou may have seen foam rollers in your corporate fitness center and wondered what to do with them or how they benefit the body. Using a foam roller involves a technique called self-myofascial release. The idea is that when deep pressure is applied to areas that have been overworked or carry tightness, the soft tissue tension is released, allowing for better flexibility, improved performance, and decreased pain.

The good news is there aren’t many wrong ways to use the roller. You can use this tool on the back, quads, hamstrings, hips, glutes, IT band, and more. Typically, you will lie on the roller with the affected area pressing into the foam. Then, use your body weight to slowly roll back and forth on the roller.

You can compare the feeling of the foam roller to a deep-tissue massage. Some people will find the pressure to be therapeutic as it breaks down tension that they have been experiencing. For other people, the pressure can be too much, especially on tender areas, so it may be borderline painful. Start by rolling gently, perhaps supporting some of your body weight, so that it is not all bearing down on the roller.

Runners especially tend to benefit from foam roller therapy. When used on a regular basis, it can prevent tightness in the back, hips, and legs. If your corporate fitness center does not have a foam roller, consider investing in one of your own. They are inexpensive, ranging in price from $20 to $40 at your local sporting goods store. This article shows a foam roller routine that can be done once per day, leading to benefits in only two weeks.

Topics: corporate fitness corporate fitness centers pain relief

Avoiding Chemicals and Germs for Workplace Wellness

hand sanitizerCould your office be to blame for making you sick? This article refers to a recent study that found certain types of furniture, carpet and paint can contain harmful chemicals called PFCs, or polyfluorinated compounds. These chemicals are so widespread that 95 percent of Americans have been found to carry at least some level in their blood. The workplace, however, was the environment found to have the highest amount of PFCs in the air.

Interestingly enough, the study found that employees working in the buildings with the newest carpet, paint, and furniture showed more exposure to PFCs than employees working in buildings with older office surroundings. If you find yourself in the position of purchasing new carpet, paint, or furniture for your workspace, it could be worth asking the manufacturer whether there are any known substances in the materials that could be harmful in high level of exposure.

Chemical exposure isn't the only risk of working in an office environment. Offices are also breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria. Here are some things you can do to avoid catching germs in the workplace:

  • Keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer at your desk and use it periodically throughout the day.
  • If you use a shared computer or phone, wipe down items like the computer mouse and phone receiver regularly with an antibacterial wipe.
  • In restrooms, use automatic flush, sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers where available. The less contact your skin has with these items, the better.
  • In the office kitchenette, appoint one person per week to clean surfaces such as countertops, sink faucets, and handles on the refrigerator, microwave and coffeepot. General housekeeping may not be cleaning these items.
  • In your corporate fitness center, clean all machines and other equipment before and after use.
  • Exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet to boost your immune system no matter where you go!


Topics: corporate wellness employee health healthy workforce Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness common cold allergies disease prevention healthy habits

When Upper Management Exercises in the Corporate Fitness Center

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

workplace fitnessWe’ve all learned that exercise can play an enormous role in lowering one’s stress level and boosting a person’s mood. Supervisors in the workforce are no different—regular exercise has been shown to help those in management roles more effectively cope with their stressors.

This article writes that, unfortunately, when supervisors become overwhelmed with workplace pressures, their direct subordinates are the ones who become victims of the supervisors’ venting, hostile behavior, or negative comments. Therefore, regular exercise routines can not only enhance the physical and mental health of the supervisors, but also the wellbeing of the employees working for them.

Another reason why supervisors, especially those in a company’s upper management, should exercise is to lead by example. When you talk to an average new employee about exercising at the worksite, one of their fears is that their boss might view them as slacking off or just looking for ways to get out of work. When supervisors make exercising in their corporate fitness centers a priority, it shows to their subordinates that taking time for one’s own health is important and acceptable, provided that work duties and deadlines are still being met.

On a larger scale, when upper management, including CEOs and vice presidents, make fitness a priority, it sets a healthy climate for the entire company.

If you are a supervisor of even one individual, consider how your healthy—or unhealthy—choices can impact those around you. Set the standard in your work environment by becoming a leader in health.

Topics: stress corporate fitness centers productivity businesses corporate rewards Fitness Center health culture

Exercise Your Brain for Corporate and Senior Wellness

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

brain healthWhile exercising the brain is of great importance in retirement wellness centers to aid in preventing or reversing memory loss and dementia, it’s never too early to start actively increasing your “brain fitness.” Occasional memory loss happens to anyone, young or old. It often occurs in moments of fatigue, nervousness, or anxiety.

There are exercises you can do to increase memory and other cognitive skills. Just as you should incorporate variety and extra challenges into your physical exercise routines, you should do the same for your brain.

A few mental exercises suggested in this article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer are

  • Learn one new word per day and find ways to work it into normal conversation.
  • Learn a new language.
  • Perform routine tasks in a different way.

Often in retirement or corporate fitness centers, we challenge clients by asking them to close their eyes or stand on only one foot while they do basic strength exercises, thus heightening their proprioceptive awareness and teaching better balance. Similarly, the article says that when you change up simple daily tasks, such as unlocking your front door with your eyes closed, you are activating more senses and key areas of the brain, keeping your mental function at its top level.

Make it your goal to add one mental exercise, such as a crossword puzzle, to your daily routine!

Topics: corporate wellness senior wellness programs productivity brain health memory

Stay Fit on Weekends Away from the Corporate Fitness Center

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

hiking, active weekendAs corporate health/fitness specialists, we see our clients giving it their all in the gym Monday through Friday. Then, something called the weekend happens.

Generally speaking, most people take a break from exercising in their corporate fitness center on the weekends. While it can be a good idea to devote two days to recovering from a week of hard workouts and busy work schedules, weekends also present several opportunities for unhealthy eating. Talk about a double whammy!

Keep Up Your Exercise Momentum

Remind your corporate wellness clients that while they should rightfully enjoy their weekends, they should also practice moderation, so that when Monday morning rolls around, they don’t feel like their fitness levels are back at square one. For those with weight-loss goals, in particular, the lack of exercise Saturday through Sunday combined with the increase of calories can do enough damage to negate all the calorie burning done Monday through Friday. 

Watch Your Sodium Intake

Aside from the high-fat and high-sugar foods and beverages that are consumed on weekends, this article from the Men's Health blog points out that sodium is also the culprit of weekend weight gain. Pizza, nachos, candy, sodas, and other junk food or restaurant selections often include loads of sodium, causing bloating and water retention that reflects on the scale.

Tips for Staying Fit on the Weekends

Here are tips to keep the weekends guilt-free and the scale happy:

  • Rather than indulge in everything, pick one to three of your favorite “splurge” foods to eat during the weekend (in reasonable portions), while keeping the rest of the diet in check.
  • Use Saturday and Sunday for recreational activities with family members or friends, such as gardening, softball, or hiking.
  • If you do plan on exercising on the weekend, do it first thing on Saturday morning before excuses or other plans ruin good intentions.
Topics: exercise nutrition weight management corporate fitness centers sodium

A Corporate Fitness Professional Looks at the Paleo Diet

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

As corporate health and fitness professionals, we are often the first people our members come to with questions about new diets they come across. We all know that fad diets don’t work, plain and simple, but sometimes these new diet trends are disguised just enough to be appealing to even the most health-conscious people.

Recently, a corporate fitness center member asked for my thoughts on the Palecaveman diet, paleoo Diet. While this is not a brand new diet, it has recently become more trendy. The basis of the Paleo Diet (also referred to as the Caveman Diet) is that the most beneficial foods for the human body are the ones that our Stone Age ancestors would have hunted and gathered. Vegetables, fruits, meat, and seafood are the staples of this eating regimen.

At first glance, it looks okay. It includes all-natural foods rather than pushing any premade meal plans or supplements. However, this program recommends a much different meat-to-plant ratio than what we’ve all been taught in our basic nutrition classes. It suggests that up to 68 percent of our diets should be meat, or calories from animals.

Many metabolic functions can be compromised with an extremely high protein intake. A diet consisting of more than 30 percent protein can be linked to kidney problems and dehydration.

Remind your corporate fitness center members that the word “diet” usually indicates that there is some form of restriction. The healthiest mindset towards food is one that acknowledges all foods are permissible. Our main priority should be filling our bodies with nutrients while leaving room to enjoy treats in moderation. When an eating plan makes claims like “Lose weight!,” or the “World’s Healthiest Diet!,” chances are, it isn’t a lifestyle plan that will stick.

Topics: corporate fitness nutrition weight loss

Helping Corporate Fitness Clients Find Motivation for Exercise

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

The fact that exercise is beneficial for your health is common knowledge these days. It would be hard to find someone to say that he or she shouldn’t exercise. The problem lies in mustering up the motivation to begin a routine and stick with it week in and week out.

yoga at workThis article provides tips for parents on setting healthy examples for children when it comes to exercise. The ideas could be applicable to anyone, though. One of the most important tips it touches on is to stop thinking of exercise as a chore. We all have never-ending to-do lists, parents especially, but exercise can be a stress relief and something you do to better yourself. Yes, it should be planned for, but rather than seeing it as the next chore in your list, think of it as a personal time-out.

The article offers other valuable lessons, too—planning ahead for your exercise, setting realistic goals, and bouncing back from setbacks. As a corporate fitness professional, the advice that struck me the most was the importance of finding your personal motivation or your reason for exercise. Knowing that you should isn’t always going to help you get off the couch, and in fact, can lead to feelings of guilt and shame when an exercise program isn’t adhered to. Material rewards can be nice, for instance treating yourself to a massage or a new pair of jeans, but those prizes can also cease to spur you on day after day. An intrinsic desire to be healthy and a personal drive to stay committed yield the best results.

As a visual example of motivation, poll some of your corporate fitness center members and ask them what their reasons for exercise are. Post this on a bulletin board along with their pictures for all to see as examples of sticking with it!

Topics: exercise corporate fitness motivation

Corporate Wellness and the War on Junk Food

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

The advertising world has come a long way. Think back many years ago when cigarette ads could be found in magazines or on television. Many studies have concluded that banning cigarette ads led to less demand for cigarettes. Most recently, various groups are calling for junk food ads to be banned from media. You might wonder if advertising is really powerful enough to influence these lifestyle factors, but a study done in Quebec showed that when junk food ads were banned, fast-food expenditures dropped by 13% each week!

The shift I’ve notice the most when it comes to food advertisements is that certain unhealthy products have realizBoy eating poptart resized 600ed they can’t compete with the health benefits of some more nutritious items. So, to market their products, they’ve chosen to highlight the “fun” aspect of eating their foods. Take Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, for example, with their taglines, “Made for Fun” and “Joylicious.” Their commercials depict cartoon kids frolicking around with rainbows and hearts. What child watching that commercial wouldn’t want a Pop-Tart? Same with Frito-Lay and their tagline “Good Fun.”

Our job as corporate wellness professionals should be to educate our clients to look past creative marketing techniques and realize that eating isn’t simply a fun hobby. Eating should be enjoyable, yes, but also nutritious enough to fuel the body.

When it comes to advertisements, look for phrases like “100% whole grain,” “fiber,” “heart healthy,” and others that signify a product is more nutritionally dense. Still, be careful, and don’t believe everything you see or hear!

Topics: corporate wellness nutrition

Misunderstood Carbs Are Not the Enemy of Corporate Wellness

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

carbs, sweetsCarbohydrates, carbs for short, is generally a misunderstood term among your corporate wellness members. When people hear the word “carb,” they instantly think of breads, cookies, chips, or other treats that, in their heads, automatically equate to extra pounds on the body. Many fad diets, such as Atkins, focus on the elimination of this nutrient, so it’s no wonder that the general population thinks of carbs as a five-letter dirty word.

There's More to Carbs Than Breads and Sweets

The first step in educating those in your corporate fitness center is to remind them that the carbohydrate food group is much wider than just breads and sweets. This group includes vegetables, fruits, and plenty of healthy grain options. Our bodies are made to function best when carbohydrates comprise about 55 percent of our diet. When we overload on the two other nutrients—protein and fat—health problems can occur.

Carbs Are an Important Source of Energy

Secondly, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for exercise as well as your body’s daily functions. Carbs support your body’s central nervous system, so it’s easy to see why people on low-carb or no-carb diets can have trouble focusing on daily tasks, may become irritable, or always seem tired.

There's a Difference Between Complex Carbs and Simple Carbs

Lastly, educate members on the difference between complex carbs, which are higher in fiber and carry more nutrients, versus simple carbs like refined or processed foods. Steer away from phrases like “good carbs” and “bad carbs,” because both versions can be incorporated into a healthy diet. Carbs are not the enemy!

Topics: corporate fitness nutrition worksite wellness