Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Creating a Parkinson’s Specific Group Fitness Class

GettyImages-1225625994 (1)In this blog, we covered some of the basics of how exercise is vital to those living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) in slowing the progression of the disease and managing symptoms. Now let’s chat about creating a Parkinson’s specific group fitness class for your members with PD. For me, group fitness is one of my favorite ways to exercise – something about the fun and engaging group atmosphere, accountability, motivation, and support from peers makes solo-exercise feel especially unappealing some days. Participating in group exercise can have huge benefits for your PD population too, but not just any group class is appropriate. Parkinson’s specific exercise classes can address common symptoms of PD including impaired balance and coordination, stiffness, freezing, poor posture, and limited flexibility/mobility which can in turn help to improve quality of life and help perform ADL’s more easily. Through a carefully developed exercise routine, individuals with PD may be able to slow the progression of the disease and improve their mobility and independence.

First, ensure that you (if you are the instructor), or your fitness staff have had adequate training and educational background on PD and are specialized in the training of individuals with PD to ensure classes are both safe and effective. You’ll want to encourage your members to check with their physician prior to starting a program and we recommend obtaining medical clearance as well.

While considering the unique training needs of members with PD, classes should be adapted to accommodate a variety of ability levels and include a variety of exercises which require both focus and effort. Each member should also be working at a moderate to vigorous intensity for the most effective workout. Utilize the RPE scale to ensure they are feeling somewhere between a 4-6 (moderate) or 7-8 (vigorous) out of 10. The components you want to include are aerobic, strength, balance, multitasking and flexibility for a complete workout. We recommend timing classes to be 50+ minutes in length so you have adequate time to warm up and training time inclusive of all components.

Structuring your classes: Start off with a warmup which includes raising the heart rate, warming up the body, stretching and flexibility exercises and of course some deep breathing. We want our PD members to really focus on deep breaths so they can relax and get a good stretch which in turn will combat muscle rigidity and assist in ADL’s.

Next, shift your focus to include aerobic training and strengthening exercises. Again, for aerobic exercise we want our participants to be working hard! This might be a time to consider adding in some dual tasks for cognition and coordination too! Dual tasks can be combined with any of the other training modalities so make sure to pepper those in often throughout your class. Try things like walking while counting backwards, catching a ball, standing on a foam pad while answering questions, or a variety of compound exercises. For this, just think “multitask” and have participants do two (or more!) things at once. For strengthening exercises, aim to hit the major muscle groups, but at the very least, you want to strongly address the muscles of the core, quads, glutes, back and triceps as they all lose strength and lead to poor postural changes.

Balance training is another essential training component in class as members with PD are two times more likely to fall when compared to those without PD due to slower reaction time, freezing, decline in mobility and balance, and lower body muscle weakness. You’ll definitely want to practice balance exercises and safe movement techniques in every exercise session!

Some other movements to add into your classes include boxing movements, yoga or tai chi practices, big movements, utilizing the voice loudly by counting or singing, and brain teasers or cognitive challenges. As always, end with adequate time to allow the body to cool down, stretch and some more deep breathing.

A few additional considerations as you develop your PD class include choreography and music! Studies have shown dancing and choreographed movements can help with balance, gait, confidence, movement initiation and QOL. Similarly, using music can reduce stress, improve breathing and voice quality, and make it FUN for you participants!

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Topics: active aging senior fitness group fitness for seniors improving senior fitness Parkinson's Disease

3 Tips to Keep Senior Group Fitness Fun and Engaging

GettyImages-828447578In the Active Aging community, group fitness is a large part of a resident’s daily life. Exercising solo and following a written workout plan doesn’t cut it for some residents. They need an extra motivational factor, such as being with a group and having someone instruct them step by step. Having friends around at all times is important to residents. It gives them a sense of security and accomplishment when they look in the mirror and see themselves exercising with close friends in the community.

Here are three ways to keep group fitness class fun and engaging enough for residents to return day after day.

Encourage New Participants

Retaining members in group fitness is simple, but trying to get new people interested is another trick. Establishing a rapport with residents before trying to suggest new things for them to try is a successful tactic. It shows them you care, and you’re not just trying to boost your numbers. Reach out to new residents and set up a tour. Set aside time for questions and concerns regarding the fitness center and how everything operates. Making them feel comfortable in the setting is vital.

Allow Time for Socialization

Class time is precious. Some days we are on a very tight schedule, but encouraging people to arrive to a class 5–10 minutes early can make a difference in the class flow. One way to start the class off on a positive note while allowing for some socialization is to greet all members at the door upon entering. It gives them a feeling of calmness and warmth knowing that their attendance is recognized and appreciated.

Another suggestion is to open the class with a question about a recent event that occurred within the community; for example, a community-wide meeting, a recent bus trip, or last night’s meal or party. (But be careful when asking about the food. That seems to be a hot topic at all communities.) This will allow for some interaction among residents and energize them before the class kicks off.

New residents often do not know many people when coming into a community. If a new resident comes to class, give them a warm welcome by introducing them to the group. Or, if that resident comes off as shy, quietly introduce them to their neighbor. It might turn into dinner plans for that evening!

Vary Exercises and Formats

Here are some ideas of ways to keep things fresh and challenging:

  • Residents love structure and routine. Keep class schedule changes and time alterations to a minimum. Too much change ends up having a negative impact on the group fitness program.
  • Many see the clock strike 10am and know there is a class going on. So, having a different type of class at 10am each day is a good way to give residents a variety of exercise.
  • Keep a routine warm-up and stretch routine in each class. It allows for residents to settle in and limit confusion while getting adjusted.
  • There are so many exercises and creative ways to cue an exercise, so use them to your advantage.
  • A couple different variations or intensity modifications per class is a way to make sure each resident leaves the class feeling challenged. It is tough to find a happy medium between too challenging and too easy because most classes have people with a variety of skill sets in attendance even if the class is noted as “high level.”
  • When providing a new exercise, speak slowly and clearly so that the residents can grasp what you are saying. Giving a brief explanation for the variation or how it will impact their strengths/weakness is also a good way to keep the residents engaged.
  • Constantly teaching new information has been a successful tactic in keeping group fitness classes well attended at some communities.
Topics: active aging participation social wellness resident engagement adding fun to senior fitness improving senior fitness

Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise

GettyImages-1203934092We already know that exercise is a key contributor to a healthy lifestyle overall, but for those with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) this is no exception! In fact, exercise is extremely critical for people with PD, and research shows that participating in an exercise program can not only help to maintain balance and mobility, but can also slow the progression of the disease, and improve many of its symptoms! Establishing an exercise routine early on in diagnosis is key for PD management, but for any fitness level or disease stage, just getting up and moving is helpful.

Common symptoms of PD include tremors, rigidity, slowed movement, and balance and coordination impairment. Those symptoms coupled with the fatigue, muscle weakness and low power that people with PD frequently exhibit have the power to greatly affect day to day life, but they don’t have to.

It is recommended by The American College of Sports Medicine and The Parkinson’s Foundation that individuals with PD participate in 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week. For the greatest benefit, exercise should be intentional, and you should look to include cardiovascular endurance, strength/resistance, balance, and flexibility exercises into a training program. Together, these modalities create a comprehensive fitness regimen and will help reduce the risk of falling and improve the ability to perform activities of daily life – like getting dressed, reaching for an object, or standing up from a chair.

Where to Start:

  • Safety First! Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Pick exercises that you will enjoy! It doesn’t matter how “great” your program is if you don’t plan to stick to it. The most important thing is to make sure you exercise regularly, so try to have a little fun while you’re at it!
  • Consider joining a group exercise class! Joining in on Parkinson’s specific classes will offer you added motivation, support and socialization with others who also have PD. Additionally, you will receive instruction and any necessary modifications from trained experts.
  • Exercise at an intensity that feels like a challenge.

Still unsure of how to start exercising with Parkinson’s Disease? Starting, or restarting, an exercise program alone can be intimidating, and with PD requiring some special considerations it can be even more difficult to truly know where to begin. There are numerous benefits associated with working with a qualified fitness professional – ideally a fitness professional who has an educational background and experience working with PD – that span far beyond added motivation and accountability. Working with an educated and credentialed professional is essential in properly progressing exercises, reducing risk of injury, and maximizing effectiveness for all individuals, but especially those with unique needs. Qualified professionals can not only advise you on where and how to start, but will also be able to progress you accordingly, and adapt your exercise program to meet your individual needs. They will be able check and correct your form, while also educating you on which muscles are being targeted, and why that is important in maintenance and slowing of your PD progression so that you can continue to perform daily tasks and activities.

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Topics: active aging senior fitness improving senior fitness Parkinson's Disease

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

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.

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

Senior Living Lifestyle: Create Your Wellness Team

If you missed the first blogs of this series featuring insights on developing a robust wellness-based lifestyle at your community, start here. Some content will cover practical tips and some will identify barriers to achieving success meant to spark conversation within your community. Read on for the final piece of the series.

GettyImages-1008096704 (1)All personnel working in a senior living community have a stake in supporting resident well-being from your concierge to your bus drivers to your service staff in the dining room. The daily interactions your team have with residents and the work culture at a community all directly impacts the quality of life of residents. As communities pursue opportunities to both evaluate resident care needs and broader program and service needs under the banner of enrichment, forming a wellness committee of your key stakeholders can be an integral step. Finding the right balance of personnel to represent different arms of the community as well as getting their buy-in with already full workloads can be a tricky step.

A few considerations in forming a wellness committee include:

  • Establishing balanced representation from key departments that impact resident well-being. Your wellness committee members shouldn’t be strictly clinicians and it shouldn’t be strictly activities personnel. It should be a healthy blend of both areas plus fitness, dining, chaplain services, etc...
  • Establishing balanced representation from staff who are connected with leadership’s vision for the lifestyle you want to foster (i.e., perhaps your marketing director) as well as representation from staff who are interacting daily with residents hearing directly about their interests (perhaps your activities coordinator). Make sure the personnel encompass both ends of the spectrum from your administrative staff to your line staff to best meet the needs of current residents while also modeling for future residents.
  • Establishing goals for the group to help keep all of the personnel with different daily job duties and focus areas working on the same track. Your Wellness Champion from part II of this blog series is integral in supporting this step but allowing your team to come together to talk about the challenges they are experiencing in their departments, the feedback they are hearing from residents, etc., can help them identify their goals as a team and establish a work plan to move forward together.

As your wellness team comes together and begins having a strong team dialogue, identifying challenges and problem solving together, you might also consider the formation of a resident wellness committee or including a resident on your staff committee. Once again, the same level of thoughtful diversity in your resident representation should be considered. Many communities will invite their most active and fitness-oriented residents to join such a committee but you also want voices that have strong connections to spiritual well-being, volunteering, etc…

In establishing your wellness team, having them form goals, and collaborating regularly, your community will uncover ways to bridge resources and support one another as a collective front. In turn, your community will make more of an impact on residents’ lives and will have more positive stories to tell about your culture.

Looking to do wellness better in your community?  Connect with NIFS on how you can better evaluate your wellness offerings for residents in your community, schedule your free 30 minute consultation today!

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Topics: active aging wellness consulting lifestyle philosophy in senior living nifs consulting services

Help for Foot Pain Could Be as Simple as Your Laces

GettyImages-1173137476 (1)Oh, my aching feet! More importantly, why do my feet hurt? Let me explain further. At times in the past, the top of my foot has felt like it was being crushed by the laces of my sneakers. I logically thought that all I needed to do was loosen the laces of my sneakers and it would solve the problem. It did not help. Really, all it did was create more problems because then my sneakers felt like they were going to fall off, and then the loose-fitting sneakers began to rub on and irritate my heels. On top of that, when I did loosen the laces, the shoes would then come untied too easily.

Asking a Podiatrist

I am a runner, and having this issue was becoming extremely frustrating. I even went so far as to try new running shoes (to no avail). After all of this, I began to think there was something wrong with my feet. I asked one of my friends, who happens to be a podiatrist, his thoughts. He began by asking me to take off my sneakers. (“Ugh,” I thought to myself, because I had just run in those things, and you could only imagine my embarrassment!) This first thing he did was take the insoles out of my shoes and examine them. He didn’t look at my feet—just my shoe insoles!

Then he said to me, “You have a high instep, and we need to create more space in your sneaker.” Create more space? I was perplexed. He then began to unlace my sneakers and re-lace them, avoiding lacing the middle eyelets of each shoe. I put my sneakers back on; and to my delight, I had no pain.

From there I began to think about how lacing your sneakers differently or more creatively could alleviate pain in your feet in other scenarios as well. Turns out, there is a plethora of information on the internet that speaks to that very topic.

The Important of Shoe Fit for Seniors

I am lucky enough to have a job doing what I love. I work in an active aging community, and so often I see people suffering with painful bunions, toe or foot deformities, and even arthritis. These painful issues combined with mobility problems seem to go together with people wearing ill-fitting shoes to accommodate their foot and/or mobility concerns. I see things like people buying shoes that are too big to make it easier to slide their foot in and out of, or trying to alleviate the pressure of a shoe pressing on an already painful bunion. Ill-fitting shoes can even increase your risk for a fall, and adversely affect things like circulation or neuropathy.

If balance or painful feet are an issue for you, you should start with your doctor first and from there consider meeting with a shoe-fit specialist only after your doctor has assured you that there is nothing that needs to be medically managed first. It may be something such as a shoe that is too large or small, or even just your laces!

I came across this article in Self magazine that speaks to creative lacing techniques. It made all the difference for me, and it might for you, too!

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Topics: shoes running active aging foot health foot pain pain

Transcending Generations with Wellness in One Word

NIFS is participating in the Wellness in One Word campaign sponsored by Monarch Collaborations and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). The campaign will launch a digital photo gallery during Active Aging Week on October 1 – October 7, 2019 of individuals taking a picture or selfie while holding up their defined word of what wellness means to them in that moment. The goal is to collect and share 1,000 pictures to connect people, spark discussion and create a strong sense of community amongst participants across the world.

It is fascinating to think how this “word” can change for us so many times throughout the day depending on life’s stressors, our interactions with others, what we are able to accomplish in that day, etc.. It’s also interesting how this “word” might be felt or interpreted by different generations.

Emily.GratefulWhen I asked our NIFS team members to share their “word”, I received submissions of vitality, fulfillment, longevity, power, and balance. Our staff join our team from all walks of life and personal and professional experiences, yet their commonality is a strong desire and passion to work with seniors. Through providing individualized exercise services and teaching a variety of exercise classes, our staff are building relationships and helping improve the quality of life for older adults across the country. The tone and context of their submissions was similarly unified.

When I first started my career with NIFS, I managed a fitness program for a senior living client on the south side of Indianapolis. During my time at the community, I enjoyed sharing personal milestones with the residents of purchasing our first home, celebrating our first wedding anniversary, becoming pregnant with our first child and receiving a job promotion. As a young professional in that environment surrounded by active older adults with so many stories to tell about their own life experiences and rich histories, it helped me gain a strong perspective in how much one should truly cherish those milestones and experiences. While my job was to teach and lead the residents in various fitness programs, I learned so much from them in this perspective that I have carried with me through my career and life.

We can reflect on the emotional highs and lows of a given day or a given hour of a day when our words might be anxious, happy, excited, or accomplished. When it comes down to focusing on our overall well-being and pursuing a life of purpose and intention, I believe the “words” our staff are feeling transcend all generations whether you are a young professional at 23 beginning your career or an 83-year-old taking a balance class in a senior living community. The NIFS team is learning valuable lessons in how to appreciate those universal truths for all of us pursuing vitality, fulfillment, longevity, and balance. As I personally reflect on this campaign, our teams’ work serving older adults across the country, and what my “word” will be, I chose grateful.

Follow us on Facebook to see some of our Wellness in One Word submissions.

Topics: senior wellness continuing care retirement community active aging active aging week, inspiration wellness-based lifestyle

Partnering with NIFS—Not Your Average Fitness Contractors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friendship Village Resident Praises the NIFS Fitness Program

IMG_1985NIFS has been partnering with Friendship Village Kalamazoo since 2015, when they opened their beautiful new Wellness Center. We recently heard an uplifting story from FV resident Kim Cummings regarding the impact the health and fitness program has had on his mobility and outlook on life.

Mr. Cummings has been an avid participant since joining the program in 2015, faithfully attending fitness classes two to three times a week and exercising in the Strength & Cardio Studio. NIFS Fitness Manager Alecia Dennis commented, “I love how Kim is always pushing himself to be better and stronger than yesterday. I am thankful that I am able to watch him flourish in all of his fitness endeavors. He truly is an inspiration to me and all of the residents here at Friendship Village!

We know the value our services bring to the residents and communities we serve, but it never gets old (ever) hearing directly from residents like Kim about their journey. Here is Kim’s inspiring story.

I came to Friendship Village regretting my ongoing dependence on a walker and lacking confidence in the Village’s fitness program. After eight months of our actual experience here, my perceptions radically changed. Having become a regular user of the fitness machines, now attending stretch and strength group classes two or three times a week, and now regularly walking our dog on the paved pathways surrounding the Village and its nearby woods, I’ve actually been able to ditch my walker and, though slowly, feel myself gaining additional strength.
I’ve also come to recognize the fitness program’s social function. The group classes, led by our zesty fitness manager, connect me with an ever-larger group of exercisers. None of us is terribly fit, but we all feel good about marching and stretching and pulling together. We just like coming together, grabbing our weights, finding a chair, and chatting with our neighbors. Likewise, when working out on the fitness machines, I find myself connecting with the individual exercising beside me. The machines are fun to work out on—they give one a sense of accomplishment and progress, but they also provide a great opportunity to introduce oneself to others.
A lover of the outdoors, I’ve also come to appreciate the Village’s accessible and attractive walking paths. I’ve particularly enjoyed my recent walks in the Village Woods (where, even in the winter, the paths are kept clear). I love getting to know the many different plantings and benches dedicated to past residents and to see the ongoing work of the Woods volunteers. Last week I spied a flock of migrating robins passing through the Woods and feasting on the crabapples planted along the side. Walking in the Woods reconnects me with nature and with the rich collective heritage of this Village community.
Freed from my walker and gaining strength, I feel that the fitness program and other aspects of Village life have added to my independence, enabling me to get around more easily. At the same time, it helps me get socially connected with other residents and stay connected with nature. I couldn’t ask for more.
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Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living fitness center nifs fitness center management testimonials senior wellness consulting