Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

A Simple Way to Boost Participation in Your Corporate Fitness Center

Our staff are routinely focused on how they can grow participation in the corporate fitness centers they manage. Granted, they don’t have to work that hard at it in January, and maybe into February, but beyond those first two months of the year, the remaining ten months can prove challenging for meeting their participation goals.

ThinkstockPhotos-465140373.jpgOne of the ways they work on achieving specific participation numbers is through successful programming. It’s not rocket science, but you do have to know your members and understand what works with them in order to build effective programs. That’s why our crew is so focused on evaluating their offerings; the results help them better understand how to provide incentive and educational programs tailored to the interests and needs of the audience they’re serving.

Tapping into existing successes

One of our managers at a corporate fitness center in New York created a simple St. Patrick’s Day–themed program to help New Year’s resolution makers carry through with their newfound exercise habits into March. For this program, she set specific goals to increase fitness center visits (targeting eight or more monthly visits per member) and to increase participation in group fitness classes.


Each member who signed up for the program was given a small pot (“pot-o-gold”) into which they could place the gold coins they received for coming in to work out on their own or to take a class. She weighted the group class participation by giving two coins for each class. The participant goal was to collect as many gold coins (get as many visits) as possible for the duration of the program. Supplies for the program cost about $30.

[Related Content: 3 Ways to Improve Corporate Fitness Programming on a Small Budget]

Simplicity wins

Members provided feedback that one of the things they enjoyed about the program was its simplicity. It was both easy to understand and easy to participate. When work and personal lives are so complicated and hectic, it’s refreshing to have the corporate fitness center offer no-brainer incentives as a diversion and stress reliever. Not only was the program easy for the members, but our manager reported that she appreciated the simplicity as well; there were no detailed spreadsheets to manage, no massive uptick in 1:1 appointments to juggle, and no convoluted formulas to compute to determine program winners. In fact, even marketing the program was easy—who doesn’t want to win a pot of gold?

The NIFS manager reported that she saw several new faces engaging in group fitness who have continued taking classes long after the program concluded, and some associates who hadn’t completed their memberships hustled through their remaining steps so that they could participate in the program. Overall, she saw 72 percent of program participants workout out at least eight times during the month-long initiative, substantially higher than her typical frequent visitor percentage. Additionally, group fitness class participation increased by 15 percent.

Want to get your hands on other great program ideas that have been tested and proven in corporate fitness?  See what we've outlined as NIFS Best Practice programming.


Topics: corporate fitness motivation corporate fitness centers participation program planning Corporate Best Practices, group fitness incentives

Corporate Fitness: Increasing Fitness Participation with SKELETONE

SKELETONEYou want to see your corporate fitness center investment being used by your employees and you depend on your fitness center management team to do so.  What if I said one of our managers did exactly that with a simple, fun (and yes, silly) program.  Check out this data:

  • Increased monthly visits by 23% over the previous month
  • Demonstrated a 40% increase in active members who attended the fitness center at least eight times or more compared with the previous month

If you ask me, those are some pretty decent increases in participation compared to the prior month.  Now what if I told you it was done with a fun little incentive called SKELETONE!  It is amazing to think what a bunch of adults will do when you put a fun and silly program on the wall to get them competing with each other to see who can complete building their skeleton first.

The program was simple, after signing up you receive your skull and each time you visit the fitness center and complete a SKELETONE workout you receive a bone to build your skeleton.  The goal was to receive all nine parts to complete the challenge, which for us was more about members visiting the fitness center eight or more times in the month.

I’m sure you’re wondering how this basic program was so successful.  Our corporate fitness center manager knew he wanted to increase monthly visits and really get people to visit more than a handful of times for the month.  Promoting the program was going to be key and he needed to do so outside of the fitness center to get members to enroll.  The client site was having a wellness fair the month prior which created the perfect opportunity to use it as a spring board for promoting what was coming in the fitness center.  When evaluating the program after the fact, he felt that promoting SKELETONE at the event really “salted the jar” and got people interested.  The event alone resulted in 52 participants signing up for the program in advance.

Programming is essential for the big picture in corporate fitness; consider what else you can achieve when you have the attention of members.  Group fitness is a popular at this particular site and with some unfamiliar faces pre-registered for the program it was a great opportunity to promote classes and increase participation for the month.  By adding a twist to the program where participants receive an extra bone for their skeleton when they attended a group fitness class, participation in the group exercise program jumped 51% over the previous month!

Our corporate fitness staff utilizes fun programs such as this one to keep our members engaged.  Adding fun to the workout makes participants want to complete their workout, step away from their desk, and enjoy fitting exercise into their day.  Interested in other ways our staff engage clients?  Check out our Best Practices and see why NIFS Corporate Fitness Management staff is top notch!

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: Corporate Best Practices,

Corporate Wellness: Tipping the scale with NIFS Maintain Not Gain program – part 2

group_weighIn the first section of this blog, we outlined some of the core elements that frame Maintain Not Gain.  They’re the pieces that give the program its powerful punch:  it’s team-based, with a little grace, and big time visibility. In part two, we’re going to dive into the facts and see how the program actually works.

It’s not enough to set up a great program where participants form teams, then sign up with the best of intentions, and weigh in on a gigantic scale.  It simply doesn’t guarantee their success.  We take very seriously that it is our job to educate the participants, to motivate them and to provide constant reminders and reinforcements that they CAN be successful at maintaining their weight.   We provide that support in a variety of ways such as:

  • Weekly emails. Over the years we’ve changed the topics, added emails about current trends, low-fat recipes, stress tips.  You name it, we’ve touched on it.   In fact, we’d written so many emails over the years for this program that we started wondering about their effectiveness.  So in 2012, we evaluated the program and asked participants what other topics would they like to see in the weekly emails. We were expecting to hear about new exciting topics to cover for the next year but what we discovered was that people still wanted to know about the basics; blood pressure, BMI, diabetes, cholesterol, etc. You would think by now with the internet, the news, health magazines, Dr. Oz, the constant feed of this kind of information, that people would be sick of it and know it by heart.  For our audiences, that was not the case. So, for our 2013 weekly emails we covered the basics again meeting the requests of our participants.
  • Nutrition education.  We know that our members seem to have an insatiable appetite for health education.  In particular, they routinely ask about nutrition.  Our staff constantly get asked about food, drinks, supplements, fad diets, cleanses, juicing, etc.  Turns out, when we asked our participants if they felt the food in their corporate environment was supportive of their Maintain Not Gain goals over the holidays, 15% said no. While we weren’t happy with that percentage, we used that information to communicate with department leads about making different options when providing food for their departments. We have been able to suggest alternatives such as a less calorie dense yogurt bar filled with fruits, granola and healthy toppings, providing smoothies or even bagels made from whole grains and low-fat cream cheese. We’ve also worked with cafeteria vendors so they can put together a healthier spread if they provide the breakfast, lunches or snacks for departments.

The Numbers Tell The Story

We’ve surveyed participants regularly throughout many offerings of the program.  We’ve learned a lot from the data about how we can provide a better program, and we’ve also learned about what participants are gaining from their efforts:

  •  90% of the participants said Maintain Not Gain has positively influenced their lifestyle choices for the duration of the program.
  •  72% of those who responded said that they were able to reduce their calorie consumption
  • 56% said they increased their daily activity
  • 60% said they ate healthier at holiday parties, and
  • 30% said they reduced the fat in their own recipes.

The biggest reason we’ve been running this program for so long is because it works.  From the participants we surveyed, 87% were successful in avoiding any holiday weight gain and 97% said they will participate next year if the program is offered.

Not only have our participants maintained their weight but we also have many participants who actually LOSE a few pounds. That’s quite impressive over the holidays. In 2013, with one client, we had 2,242 associates sign up for Maintain Not Gain and 1,780 of those participants were successful in maintaining their weight over the holidays. That’s an 80% success rate. Bottom line, we are tipping the scales in the RIGHT direction with our Maintain Not Gain program.

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: employee wellness Corporate Best Practices,

Corporate Wellness: Tipping the scale with NIFS Maintain Not Gain program – part 1

MNG_LogoThere is more to maintaining your weight over the year-end holiday season than simply weighing in before Thanksgiving and weighing out after New Year’s Day.  Still, before we go off the deep end with ridiculous claims about holiday or year-end weight gain, let’s get the facts.  Despite common claims that traditional holiday weight gain is seven pounds or more, the research shows that people typically only gain one to two pounds during the holidays.  The problem with that minimal gain is that studies show many people never get those extra few pounds back off and, over the course of an adult lifetime, what once seemed like inconsequential weight gain can become a significant health issue.   It’s also worth nothing that at least one study  found that adults who are already overweight are more likely to gain five pounds or more during the holiday season.

Given that there’s an appetite to maintain weight during the party-going-season that is the holidays, many business have folded holiday weight loss or weight maintenance challenges into their annual programming.  NIFS, in fact, has been offering our Maintain Not Gain program to our clients for more than 12 years.  And we think we’ve gotten pretty good at it, but our offering is done with a few different, but powerful twists. 

The Power of the Team

You see, we understand the impact of social networks on weight gain; we also know that teamwork can impact weight loss.  So rather than leaving participants to fend for themselves against their natural networks who may be inadvertently working against them, we decided to opt for the team approach.  It doesn’t take pounds of scientific papers to understand why we chose teams as the basis for participation in our Maintain Not Gain program.  If you’ve ever been on a team you know that personal responsibility and accountability increase greatly when others are depending on you for the entire team to be successful. (Do you want to let your team down because you claimed an extra slice of pecan pie and didn’t move your body enough?)

The Power of Forgivenessthanksgiving_dinner

The Maintain Not Gain program is for people, not robots.  We know what it’s really tough to make it through Thanksgiving without overeating, not to mention all the office pitch-ins, family gatherings, and sweet treats that show up deliciously wrapped and calling your name.  We also know that body weight is a dynamic number and we aren’t huge fans of putting undue attention on a single number.  So, we’ve built the program with some grace by giving each participant a two-pound variance.

As an added bonus, the program focuses only on the weight of your team.  So a four person team has an eight pound grace.  If one person gains nine pounds and everyone else loses a teeny bit, then the team can still claim success.  (Of course, we think there’s maybe some room to improve that team’s dynamic.)

The Power of Fun

This program has become such a fantastic tradition for our staff and our members.  One of the ways that some of our sites elevate the initiative is by renting a multi-person scale so all four team members can get on at once for a total weight.  In this case, we do public weigh ins and weigh outs.  It creates quite a scene as participants giggle and gasps when they see the weight of four people!

For fun, we also set up a competition where we offer prizes for the most creative team name and let all the participants decide the winner. A few of my favorites from last year were, Thin it to Win it, Jingles over Jiggles, Dreaming of a Lite Christmas, and Mission Slimpossible.

In part 2,  of this blog we’ll cover the “how to’s” of our program so that you can get busy building this promising program for your own network.

Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers


Topics: employee health Corporate Best Practices,