Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

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

Programs: The Way to their Heart is through their Stomach:  If you Feed them they will Come!

We have all been there, you spend hours and hours program planning putting together what you KNOW is a terrific program.  You included all the buzz words that get folks jazzed up and ready to participate like:  BALANCE-BOOSTING, ULTRA- EFFECTIVE, FAT-BURNING, MUSCLE-BUILDING, TONING AND STRENGTHING, EXCITING NEW CLASS.  You plaster signs all over the place, put notices in mailboxes and do just about everything short of hiring a skywriter to fly over and advertise for you.  The first day of your new class dawns, and you are filled with enthusiasm.  You are thinking that you really knocked this one out of the park, and that the room will be filled with eager new participants and people ready to “feel the burn” so to speak.

As you are setting up a sinking feeling sets in, a few people start to trickle in and you look up at the clock.  One minute till show time, so you figure, I might as well wait a minute, introduce myself to everyone and make sure they are set and ready to go.  A few extra minutes go by and you end up with a grand total of five participants.  Five.  For all that effort and work, you prepared for weeks prior to the new program, and this is the turn out you get.   Plaster a smile on your face and show just as much enthusiasm for the five brave souls who showed up as you would if 40 (who you hoped might show up) people were there and were just as excited as you are.

As the class wraps up, you ask yourself:  Self, where did I go wrong?  Were my advertisements boring?  Should I have hired a barbershop quartet to sing a jingle for me?  Would it have been a good idea to pull the fire alarm to see if people would just show up?  We have all been there, and are not immune to the crash and burn of a new program.  Sometimes no amount of advertising can give a program the boost it needs to succeed.  But I can tell you that one method has never failed me, ever.  And that method is… FOOD.   You provide any kind of food to the members and they will show up, in droves.

So what kind of options do you have?  Depending on your clientele you can range from mild to WILD…  Think of theme-ing the heck out of it.  Make it jive with your program, so what about Hula Lessons and Tropical Smoothies with Pineapple and Coconut Water?  Or how about Tai Chi with a Chinese tea tasting following (oolong, black tea, green tea, etc).  Get them up and moving in the morning with breakfast. Our favorite is our D.I.Y Oatmeal Bar.  It is cheap, relatively easy and really draws a crowd.  Set out a pot of oatmeal, and then a variety of fixin’s, from raisins and craisins to brown sugar, sliced almonds, and maple syrup, you can’t go wrong.

But really, any old food will do.  The next time you launch a new program, check the web for fun food ideas and see what you can come up with!

Evaluate your community wellness programs and see how you can incorporate offerings to help build vitality in your community.  Download our eBook below!  

Download our eBook: Build Vitality In Your Community

Topics: active aging senior living

Senior Living Providers: It’s time for more than group fitness

Every senior living community offers group fitness classes.  If you want to stand out from the competition, you have to offer more.

Good is no longer good enough.

So much in senior living is evolving, except for fitness.  The fitness industry itself is evolving, and rapidly, but many communities aren’t progressing to adopt new exercise equipment for older adults, updated staff-led services that increase resident participation, or smart data from the fitness program that can inform future decision making.

What about your community?  It’s likely that you are offering at least some group fitness classes that the residents choose from each week.  These classes in senior living, especially formats that specifically address balance training or brain health, are a must for any senior living community.  There’s a decent chance that your residents love their group instructors, and the report from your activities director probably notes that the classes are well-attended and well-liked.

There’s also a strong likelihood that you haven’t looked closely at your exercise program recently as a place where the community could position itself as a leader in your market.  Good is no longer good enough.  Good is a starting point; it doesn’t mean the exercise program for your members is complete. 

It’s time to do more than group fitness.

When prospective residents walk into your community for a tour, they see a welcoming, warm lobby area with social nooks for sharing a cup of coffee and the latest gossip or viral YouTube video.  On the tour, you show them contemporary dining venues with menus that make their mouths water. You talk about updated apartments, technology tools that help them stay connected to their family and the larger community.   

As the tour progresses through the community, you eventually arrive at the exercise room. (Or maybe you skip the exercise area because it doesn’t contribute positively to the lifestyle you’re selling.) And it looks old, maybe like an afterthought. The equipment is donated or dated, the artwork is original to the wall, the small collection of dumbbells have cracked vinyl or rusted edges, and the information on the bulletin boards is no longer current.  Worst of all, it’s a ghost town; no one is in there.

It’s a disconnect for the individuals on the tour.  And while that disconnect is real for your prospects today, it will be even more jarring for future prospects and adult children who are the savviest health consumers we’ve seen to date. Certainly, you can’t update all areas in your community at the same time, and there are many priorities ahead of the fitness space(s).  But that doesn’t mean a revitalization of the exercise program should be entirely off the table. 

You don’t necessarily need massive capital budgets to make improvements in your community fitness center.  And you don’t need to blow your operating budget to provide vibrant exercise-related programming to community.  But if you want to start using elements of your senior living programming to combat someday syndrome at your community, you absolutely have to do more than offer group fitness classes.

Find out how to do better for your residents.

Your prospects expect more than just classes on the calendar, your current residents deserve better, and NIFS can help you get there.  Find out more about how the right staff, the right services and the right equipment can positively and profoundly impact the exercise program you're offering your residents. Click below to find out more.

How Outsourcing fitness center management can work for your community

Topics: active aging senior living leading age

The Senior Fitness Center – Physical Therapy Relationship

If you are a fitness professional working with seniors, you’d better have a good relationship with your physical therapy department. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three seniors over age 65 falls each year, with 20 to 30% of those falls resulting in severe injury.

After a severe fall the senior may need rehab, but there are times when they do not want to go. The three reasons I hear most often about why they’re not going to therapy are

  • “I’m not going to therapy because I can’t afford it.”
  • “I’m not going because I don’t have time.”
  • “I’m not going because you can do it.”
I feel we, as fitness professionals, should have a positive relationship with the therapy department, and we should have a basic understanding of physical therapy protocols, such as Medicare limits. Knowing this basic information may help change the mind of a person who is trying to avoid therapy for one reason or another. When fitness staff and therapy work well together, the client/patient always wins, and that’s our ultimate goal.

The next time you hear one of the aforementioned reasons for not going to therapy, here is some information you can provide that they may not have known.

“I’m not going because I can’t afford it.”

Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy are covered under Original Medicare; the therapy caps for 2015 are $1,940. If this is the option they would like to go with, Medicare part B will pay 80% of the services and require them to pay 20%. Their cap resets after each calendar year, something many seniors don’t realize, so they may be fearful that they will have to pay 100% of the costs when in fact that isn’t true.

If the person has Medicare Advantage plan or any other detailed questions, I would suggest sending them to this section of the Medicare website, or to the therapy department. After all, we are laypersons in the field of Medicare, but our primary goal is to help them, so having this small amount of information along with other resources they can use may be enough to get them on the path to therapy.

“I’m not going because I don’t have time.”

When I hear this, I often follow it with one of my favorite fitness quotes from Edward Stanley:

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

We make time for the things in our lives that we view as most important. All we can do as fitness professionals is stress how important their body is; it’s their choice to agree and make the time to take care of it.

“I’m not going because you can do it.”

This might be the reason I hear most often. It is definitely flattering to hear the faith they place in your abilities, but we are not therapists and we must not overstep the scope of our training. Some people are really resistant to change, and their comfort level with you may be the reason they ask you to perform their therapy. I have found that if you show faith in therapy, and can suggest a therapist who you know is liked and gets positive results, it goes a long way in getting the person to consider therapy.

***

Neither department is more important than the other, but both are necessary for a successful and lasting recovery. The best fitness-therapy relationships are symbiotic, with both sides helping one another and referring clients. For more on strengthening this relationship, get this Quick Read.

Download our quickread for more about how intergrating services can be better for your resident's wellbeing.

Download Now

 

Topics: active aging physical therapy senior fitness injury rehab

Active Aging Week: Planning for a Successful Week of Programs

It’s that time again! Our team has been working hard to get ready for Active Aging Week 2015. We’ve changed things up a little bit this year. For the past few years we’ve done a friendly competition between Active Aging sites for the week. This year, we’ve set a goal as a team and we’re competing against ourselves to get our highest participation yet!

Read on to find out about some of the most exciting senior wellness elements of this year’s Active Aging Week.

Multiple Dimensions of Wellness

For us, the goal of Active Aging Week has always extended beyond just encouraging our residents to be physically active. This year is no different. We’ve planned events focused on physical wellness, but also social, intellectual, vocational, and emotional wellness. It’s so important to understand how each dimension impacts a person’s health and lifestyle. After four years of participating in multi-site programs, the residents appreciate the variety as well.

Philanthropy

Thursday’s event has quickly become a favorite for many participants. Each year, we reserve Thursday as the day we focus on vocational wellness and giving back to the community. Each site gets to choose a philanthropy that they want to work with that day. Some sites donate clothing or food, some sites write letters to troops or veterans, and other sites use the opportunity to raise money for an organization. For each site, this is an important day where residents get to help out a cause that’s close to their hearts. 

Across the Continuum

The first year we put together an organized, multi-site Active Aging Week program, it was really just geared toward residents who resided in the independent-living sections of the communities. Since then, we’ve expanded the program to include assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and even employees. Each day’s events include elements that can either be extended across the entire community or easily adapted so each area can have its own version of the event. This has been especially nice for residents who’ve moved from independent living on to another area; now they aren’t missing out just because they transferred to a different level of care.

Personality

One of the great aspects of Active Aging Week year to year is that across the country our residents are participating in the week’s events together. Another awesome feature of the program is how easy it is to adapt to the personality of the residents within a particular community. Each site is handed a week-long program outline that includes some details to make the week run smoothly. From there, the rest is up to the NIFS manager and staff. They get to be creative in their implementation of each day’s events, and it’s a great opportunity to tailor everything to the residents at each individual community. This is one of the reasons Active Aging Week has been such a successful program for our sites. The planning and preparation are important, but the care, creativity, and attention to detail that’s given by each site manager is what really makes it special, and that’s what attracts residents to participate year after year.

Are you planning anything creative for Active Aging Week this year?

 

Topics: senior wellness active aging senior fitness active aging week,

Active Aging: Ten Ways for Seniors to be Active in the Country

active_in_countryLiving in the country can have its share of pros and cons when it comes to getting in your recommended daily activity. Although you might not have access to a fitness center at your fingertips, here is a list of 10 ways for seniors to stay active in multiple wellness dimensions while living in a rural area: 

  1. Can you dig it?  Try gardening!  Plant your seeds and reap the benefits with a bouquet of flowers, a variety of vegetables, and some new herbs to spice up your daily activity as well as your meals.
  2. Enjoy some time with nature by going on a nature hike!  With the scenery ever changing, this can be a beautiful change up to your typical cardiovascular exercise routine.  So don’t delay, lace up your shoes and take a hike!   
  3. Go for a swim at a local lake or community pool.  This activity uses the gentle resistance of water to strengthen your muscles.  It is easier on joints and the buoyancy of the water is effective for those with balance issues.  Don’t forget your water floaties!
  4. Walk a pet.  Take your favorite companion around the block for some good company during your exercise.  Maybe you start with a short distance that increases over time as you and your pet improve your stride and endurance together.
  5. Not feeling like going outside?  Then workout to a fitness DVD!  Pick out a yoga, gentle aerobics or senior boot camp DVD to do at your own pace in the comfort of your home.  What other workout DVDs do you recommend? 
  6. Go to the mall!  Do laps around your local mall to get your steps in each day.  You don’t have to go into a store and make a purchase if you don’t want to, but this is a great option whether the weather is rain or shine!
  7. Camping with the family.  Helping set up camp and carrying a pack can be a great way to burn calories while spending time with your loved ones.  Just avoid eating too many roasted marshmallows to gain back all of the hard earned calories that you just burned off!
  8. Check off the “honey-do” list.  Kill two birds with one stone by doing chores around the house while making your spouse overwhelmingly appreciative of you!  Dust, vacuum, do the laundry or put way the dishes and work off calories all the while!
  9. Do work around the yard.  Spend a nice, sunny afternoon outside by mowing, pruning and raking your yard.  Have a home improvement project that you’ve been putting off?  Then now is a great time to conquer it!  Your neighbors will be impressed by how immaculate your yard looks, and you will be reaping the benefits of your activity!
  10. Play with your grandkids at a park or playground.  Tap into your inner child and participate in the games that suit your fancy!  These are memories that your grandchildren will cherish for the rest of their lives. 

What ways have you found to be fit in your area?  Keep in mind these safety recommendations to optimize your overall wellness.  Don’t live in a rural area?  Then check out this blog about Ways to Stay Fit in the City!

Subscribe to our blog

Topics: active aging active living senior fitness

Active Aging: Ten Ways for Seniors to Stay Active in the City

active_in_cityIf you live in a city, then you have your share of challenges when it comes to keeping fit.  Although so many things can be available at your fingertips, how do you successfully stay active?  Here are 10 ways to be fit in multiple wellness dimensions for seniors living in an urban area: 

  1. Stop to smell the flowers by walking around a park or botanical garden.  Research shows that green space and being outside can lower stress.  I’m not saying you have to hug a tree in appreciation…unless you want to.   
  2. Enjoy a cultural experience at a museum while racking up your steps.  Many cities house museums for art, science, history and much more!  This is a great excuse to check out the latest exhibit while stepping your way towards health.    
  3. Walk a pet.  Use a cute pooch as your excuse to get out and about on a regular basis.  Start slowly and increase your pace and/or distance over time!
  4. If you have access to a body of water, then try sailing, canoeing, or kayaking.  This can be a fun option to mix into your routine by getting out on the water.  Don’t forget to take pictures from that different point of view to show all of your friends!
  5. Take the stairs.  Stairs are everywhere throughout the city.  If this is a safe option for you, then challenge yourself with some stair routines.  Walk them, every-other step them, do sidesteps…be creative!  I usually do stairs while listening to Eye of the Tiger…and pretend I’m Rocky Balboa.
  6. Explore your city’s architecture and history.  Whether it’s on foot or on a bike, explore the ins and outs of your city while getting exercise.  More and more cities are offering bike rental services so if you don’t own a bike, then try renting one! 
  7. Participate in an organized race event.  Many cities host races of various lengths, causes and themes for you to participate in throughout the year.  Select a race with a meaningful cause to you and train accordingly.  This can also provide a target end-goal for your exercise regimen. 
  8. Attend festivals or street markets.  This will give you an opportunity to walk around and even pick up a few fresh treats while being social with a few hundred of your closest friends!
  9. Beat traffic by walking instead of driving.  Given the accessibility of many locations, try walking to and from appointments and events such as grocery stores, hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, dentists, and the theaters when appropriate.  This is a healthy option that is also good for the environment. 
  10. Try a Gentle Yoga or Tai Chi class!  Both of these classes are beneficial to seniors since they are gentle on joints, promote range of motion and target on balance improvement.  Some classes will even meet outside on nice days!

What ways have you found to be fit in your city?  Keep in mind these safety recommendations to optimize your overall wellness.  Don’t live in a city?  Watch for my next blog about Ways to Stay Fit in the Country! 

Exercise is important as we age, check out our quick read for more information and share with your loved ones to keep them active, click below!

Download now

Topics: active aging senior living exercise for elderly

Senior Living: Keep Moving and Keep Improving with Senior Health and Fitness Day

moving_seniorsNational Senior Health and Fitness Day is approaching with celebrations focused on senior health and wellness across the country on Wednesday, May 27.  Many YMCA’s, health clubs, park districts and especially Independent and Assisted Living Communities will structure programs and activities to promote staying healthy as we age!  The motto for this year is “Keep Moving and Keep Improving” That got me thinking about not just why it’s important to move but how exercise can actually continue to improve our quality of life. 

When I ask our active agers about the possibility of living to the age of 10, they always comment that they would be happy to live to that age under the condition that their bodies and minds are still capable of decent function, not necessarily great or even good function, but decent function to get around and still have cognitive ability.  Enough to move!

Movement is defined as an act of changing physical location or position or of having this changed (a slight movement of the upper body).”  The definition is not emphasizing how much or how intensely we need to move, it’s simply saying motion of the body, even slight motion of the body.  My goal for National Senior Health and Fitness Day is to promote moving the body! No matter what your limitations, there is an exercise that can be modified to benefit and keep the body moving!  The ultimate goal is that by movement (exercise) we will continue to improve quality of life.

So how do you keep moving with limitations?

  • First recognize your “movement” limitations and ask are they temporary or permanent? For example, if you broke your ankle and are recovering, or had recent surgery, for most those are temporary “movement” limitations. On the other hand, if you have arthritis in your knees, or have been told you have Parkinson’s then these are more than likely permanent “movement” limitations.
  • Second find an exercise routine that focuses on three things:
  1. Safety! It may be best for you to choose a movement with a limited range of motion or perform it sitting instead of standing.
  2. Strength! What will strengthen my “movement” limitations? For example, if you cannot move one arm higher than another because of a rotator cuff problem, continue to move them both separately, continuing to keep the stronger side strong and also allowing the weaker side to gain more strength.
  3. Fun! Whatever you do you need to enjoy it in order to continue doing it! If you enjoy a particular exercise classes, talk to the instructor about modification and your “movement” limitations when necessary.  Or, hire a personal trainer to design a program appropriate for you.  Remember always consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

The goal is to keep moving! If you keep moving you’ll keep improving! Celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day with a lifetime goal to keep moving!

Get our Slideshare: Improve Resident Engagment

Topics: active aging senior living fitness center health and fitness

Active Aging: Make no bones about it

walking_seniorsHow healthy are your bones? This may not be a question you can answer quickly. Many seniors already have weak bones and don’t know it, but the good news is you’re never too old to take steps towards keeping your bones strong. Strong bones support us and allow us to move well. They protect our heart, lungs, and brain from injury. Our bones are also a storehouse for vital minerals that we need to live.

When you think of bones, you might imagine a hard, brittle skeleton. In reality, your bones are living organs. They are alive with cells and flowing body fluids. Bones are constantly renewed and grow stronger with a good diet and adequate physical activity. The amount of calcium that makes up your bones is the measure of how strong they are. Your muscles and other systems in your body must also have calcium to work. Therefore if it is in short supply from what you get in the foods you eat, your body will simply take the calcium from the storage in your bones.

Falls are a common thing you hear about when discussing senior bone health. It is a major reason for trips to the emergency room and for hospital stays among older adults. You can help prevent fractures by maintaining the strength of your bones. If you fall, having healthy bones can prevent hip or other fractures that may lead to a potential severe disability. If bones are fragile, even a minor fall can be detrimental.  

Some things that weaken bones are out of your control. For example, if your family member has a bone problem, you could also be at risk. Also, some medical conditions can make you prone to bone disease. But there are also several things you can do to maintain your bone health as you age. 

Each day, calcium is deposited and withdrawn from your bones. If you don’t get enough calcium, you could be withdrawing more than you’re depositing. Be sure to get an adequate amount, this can be done by eating calcium-rich foods and taking supplements. It can be found in dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. You can also get it from orange juice, nuts such as almonds, soybeans, fortified cereals, and dark green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and collard greens.

Vitamin D is necessary to help your body absorb the calcium. As you get older, your bodies need for vitamin D also increases. It is made by your skin when you are in the sun but many older people don’t get enough vitamin D this way. Eating foods with vitamin D, such as salmon, mushrooms, and fortified cereals and milk will greatly benefit your body. You can have a blood test done to check for a vitamin D deficiency or abnormal calcium levels. Taking supplements can help as well, talk to your doctor about how much vitamin D you need.

Physical activity is another way to keep your bones strong. Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, even if it’s broken up into 10 minutes three times a day. Participate in activities like walking, dancing, stair climbing, gardening, or strength training. When you jump, run, or lift a weight, it puts stress on your bones which sends a signal to your body that your bones need to be made stronger. New cells are then added which strengthens your bones.

Talk to your doctor about your bone health questions and concerns; together you can evaluate your risks. The doctor might recommend a bone density test. This is a safe and painless test that will assess your overall bone health and determine your risk for fractures. It is recommended that women over 65 and men over 70 should all have a bone density test.

By 2020 half of all Americans over 50 will have weak bones unless we make changes to our diet and lifestyle. As discussed, a diet that includes enough calcium and vitamin D and physical activity can help prevent bone loss and fractures. Take initiative today to keep your bones healthy and strong!

Get our Slideshare: Improve Resident Engagment

Topics: active aging bone density senior living community healthy living

75 year old resident with Parkinson's steps up to the challenge

This is the story of a man, who by all accounts, has received a challenging diagnosis, and who, by any standards, could have slowed down years ago.  But he hasn't, and instead, he's overcoming his health challenges to help patients at Lurie's Children's hospital through the Aon Step Up For Kids fundraiser.

Larry Pirovano, a resident at The Clare, in downtown Chicago has been working with his NIFS personal trainer, Zach DeCoster to accomplish the stair climb challenge that required more than 1,600 steps.  We've got his amazing stats below as well as a video from a local NBC affilate who profiled his inspiring story.

  • On January 25, 2015, Larry and Zach climbed 80 flights of stairs in the Aon Center in 50 minutes and 15 seconds.  
  • Larry placed 2nd in his age bracket.
  • He raise the most money of all individual participants and was 16th in total fundraising including all teams and individuals.

 stepping_up

Topics: active aging senior living communities personal trainers