Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

How Do NIFS Business Partners and Contacts Benefit Our Clients?

Corporate_Fitness_Center-1-2Clients regularly ask me whether we have any recommendations or contacts for certain exercise equipment, or if we have any successful models in place for collaborating with rehab departments or cafeteria vendors. The bulk of our contacts in the world of fitness are with current clients where we have our professional staff on the ground managing their fitness program, or with consulting clients where we are providing support and resources to enhance their existing program. However, we also have a large network of industry contacts that we partner with, allowing us to (1) provide the quality service we do to our clients and (2) support other businesses outside of a client setting.

Once clients experience the ease of replacing their cardio equipment or launching a multi-vendor wellness initiative with our support, they recognize the added value that expertise brings to the partnership they have with NIFS. I love seeing clients supported on both sides—with our passionate staff on the ground in their fitness center serving their members, as well as with our administrative support helping guide their leadership team’s decision-making on broader facility and program needs.

Read on to learn about the relationships we build and the scope of our reach in supporting clients in 14 states across the US.

  • Equipment vendors: From balance and fall-prevention equipment, to group fitness supplies, to the latest trends in strength-training equipment, we have vendor partners across the US who help us find equipment solutions to meet our clients’ needs. For our senior living clients, we know which manufacturers have equipment that meets the unique needs of an active older adult population. For our corporate clients, we have partners who outfit facilities across the US with the latest and greatest equipment to create a welcoming and inspiring space for your employees. Not to mention, the relationships we have with equipment manufacturers provides us with national buying power, which we can pass along to our clients.
  • Architect and design firms: Particularly in a senior living setting where strong emphasis on quality, high-end fitness amenities for the aging population is on the rise, forward-thinking architects and designers reach out to us for consulting support on how to create a truly functional space that will best support a strong program when renovations or new construction are complete. These firms benefit from our end-user perspective, and we often pick up on some new ideas to file away in our bank of resources for future projects with clients.
  • Client vendors: At the site level, our staff regularly partners with other health and wellness vendors on campus to effectively bridge programs and services for their members. We work closely with rehab providers, cafeteria vendors, registered dietitians, employee health services, and many more. Some of these providers have a similar reach as we do in their profession across the US, and others are local providers, but we build strong connections with all to best serve our clients.

While the fitness industry can be full of fads, an ability to build strong relationships is a trend that will never go out of style and is essential for the success of any fitness program. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our clients, members, and vendor partners and love bridging new connections for clients to enhance their programs.

Interested in more information on the value we bring our clients? Read this quick read on 5 Reasons to Hire NIFS to Manage Your Fitness Center.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Topics: senior fitness management nifs fitness center management equipment corporate fitness management vendors networking senior wellness consulting corporate wellness consulting

3 Ways to Use Surveys to Improve Your Corporate Fitness Program

In a seasoned corporate fitness program, sometimes it's hard to figure out where to look next for improvement in the services, staffing, or overall offering. In NIFS almost three decades of providing corporate fitness management services, we've continued to evolve our use of surveys well beyond the typical satisfaction ratings. Below are three tested survey styles that we use on a regular basis to improve our corporate fitness centers and  ensure our staff are doing everything they can to sustain a positive and inviting fitness atmosphere for employees.

The New Member Experience Survey

We know that creating a positive and welcoming first experience for employees in corporate fitness is crucial to winning loyal members. And we value customer service skills in our staff as much as we value sound exercise science knowledge. In order to capture our staff's effectiveness at using strong customer-focused skills with new members, we began implementing a new member experience survey. We use the tool in a monthly welcome email with new members to get a better picture of any potential barriers members may experience as well as to better understand how well our staff are implementing expected procedures for orienting new members. Results from this survey offer strong talking points in semi-annual review discussions or more frequently if needed to both praise and correct staff, based on member feedback.

 View a sample of our new member experience survey

The Quality Assurance Surveys

When we contract with a business to provide fitness center management services, part of the package includes managing liability within the fitness environment. We have several components in our quality assurance program that support this activity, including a monthly emergency procedures survey which our managers fill out. It provides a nudge to ensure they're checking emergency equipment, stocking first aid kits, and documenting any missing or broken supplies in a timely fashion. We also have an annual risk management survey and a semi-annual emergency survey where staff work through emergency scenarios and take an emergency preparedness quiz.

View a sample of our monthly emergency procedures survey

The Satisfaction Survey (with a twist)

I suspect that most vendors like us provide a satisfaction survey to share with clients how the staff, services, and spaces are being received by their employees. It's foundational to measuring our commitment to the client; in fact, portions of our satisfaction survey sometimes translate into service level agreements between us and the client. We've made tweaks to our standard survey over the years, and we recently added a Net Promoter Score question as a new twist that provides us with more of an industry benchmark for the way our staff are connecting with members to build loyalty. 

NPS.png

Even if you're unfamiliar with NPS, there's a good chance you've answered a product or service survey question that generated an NPS for the provider. It's usually worded to ask how likely you are to recommend X service/product to a friend and the answer is given on a 0-10 scale. The responses then are broken down into three categories:

  • Detractors, rate their likelihood to recommend between a 0-6. They are considered likely to stop using your product/service and/or share negative feedback about your product/service.
  • Passives, rate their experience as a 7-8. They’re neutral to your brand; they might continue to use your product/service, but they aren’t likely to invite others into the fold.
  • Promoters, rate their experience as a 9-10 and they are considered evangelists for whatever you’re selling; they LOVE you and will tell others about how great you are.

The industry average NPS for fitness centers as tracked by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub association (IHRSA) is 43. That score includes commercial gyms, so it’s not quite apples to apples, but we are talking about a very similar scope of services where members are entrusting their physical health to the fitness center staff and carving out their very precious personal time to spend time at the gym.  Since we added an NPS question to our survey over the last few years, we have far exceeded that industry benchmark and we are regularly looking at strategies to continue growing member loyalty.


This overview provides a good snapshot of the types of information we gather through surveys, but I haven't touched on how we use the survey responses to coach our staff, improve our client relationships and manage customer liability. To dig more deeply into these topics, grab our white paper.

Make better use of surveys in your fitness program >

Topics: employee health and fitness corporate fitness center service level agreements for corporate fitness corporate fitness survey tips corporate wellness consulting

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

NIFS | Corporate Fitness ClassNIFS isn't the only agency that provides fitness management expertise to businesses. There are several like us because the market demands it. While many organizations have adopted a DIY attitude about managing their own fitness programs, an additional (and substantial) set of businesses has recognized the value in outsourcing fitness center management for their corporate fitness center or in their senior living community.

We’ve been at this for almost 25 years and I’ve heard a variety of objections to outsourcing fitness staff. I’ve got my own list of objections to those objections...so here we go:

Objection 1: Outsourcing fitness center management is too expensive.

This objection really comes down to a comparison of direct versus indirect employee costs. Working with a partner may be more expensive when you compare wages and benefits you pay your employee with the billing you would get from a partner. The fitness management organization has overhead and a margin they need to earn.

When you look at the cost to hire, train, and supervise an employee, your cost comparison starts to even out. Then throw in the consideration of ongoing training and supervision, potential turnover, and statutory costs related to employees, you may find that partnering with a staffing agency like NIFS provides significant value.

Objection 2: I have no control over the staff person.

I don’t know who you’ve worked with historically, but any organization in this business that doesn’t put service first and foremost is making a gigantic mistake. When you’re working with the right outsourcing partner, that organization should be keenly interested in keeping you, the client, happy. To that end, they should be very interested in your feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the staff they’re providing at your location.

Objection 3: An outsourced staff person won’t have buy-in from our constituents.

For starters, see objection #2. Keep in mind that the only way a staffing agency stays in business is if they have learned to be nimble and highly adaptive to a variety of environments. You can check on a potential outsourcing partner’s flexibility by talking to a variety of references.

When we go to work in senior living settings, we often pair up staffing services with wellness consulting (at no additional cost) so that we can better support the organization and further understand the culture with that client. This understanding is communicated to our staff on the ground so that we’re all operating from the same educated starting point.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Objection 4: Fitness isn’t rocket science; we’ve got this.

Okay. You’re right. Fitness isn’t rocket science, and you may very well “have it.” There are a host of highly capable, service-minded, passionate health and fitness professionals out there who are ready to work directly for you. But who has their back?

Who provides them with fresh ideas, resources, direction, and support? Your human resources director? Your activities director? Not likely—unless you’ve somehow hit a gold mine of fitness-educated staff at your business, the fitness manager you employ is probably the only one of his or her kind in your four walls. Outsourcing partners (the best ones, anyway) bring a team of resources, professionals, expertise, and support to the staff member they provide your organization.

Maybe you have other objections I can address. If so, leave them in the comments below. On the other hand, if I’ve just addressed your objections and you’re ready to start looking at outsourcing partners, drop me a line, or take a closer look at us through the rest of our blog. If your business has to move through an RFP process, you might want to read what I wrote on my top 10 RFP questions for corporate fitness management.

CORPORATE FITNESS STAFFING ›SENIOR LIVING FITNESS STAFFING ›

 

Topics: worksite wellness nifs fitness management NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment employee health and fitness corporate wellness staffing outsourcing fitness managment senior wellness consulting corporate wellness consulting

Why Group Fitness Belongs in Your Corporate Wellness Program

I’ve never been that into group fitness. I’m simply more of a solo exerciser. But starting my career managing corporate fitness centers, it became clear to me very quickly that my personal philosophy about where group classes fit into my routine was counter to a sizable minority of members in the facilities I supported.

There is something about that group dynamic that works for participants. Whether it’s the energy of others, the instructor who tells you what to do, or the music that moves your feet, something draws participants in and keeps them coming back.


Mixed Adherence and Retention Results

Researchers have long been studying variables that can influence exercise adherence; and to date, outcomes from various studies have been in conflict. For example, the S.W.E.A.T. study on women ages 40 to 65 showed that group-based exercise in a “center” setting compared with home-based individual exercise netted better retention. But other research indicates that home-based interventions demonstrated better adherence over time.

We do know that positive social support from both staff and peers directly in the exercise setting is important, and group classes provide a built-in social network. Also, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) polled gym members for their primary areas of participation and found that about 43% of gym members participate in group exercise.

NIFS Poll Shows Benefits of Group Fitness Classes

Anecdotally, I know of several individuals who have been able to dramatically improve their health primarily through group classes. So when we polled our NIFS corporate group fitness class participants about their experiences with our classes, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the results.

We polled all employees at our client locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we’re offering group fitness classes. In some cases, we’re providing only classes at a location, whereas in other locations we’re managing the corporate fitness center along with providing classes. Here’s what we learned:

  • Just over one-third of responders indicated that NIFS group fitness classes were their primary source of exercise through the week.
  • Almost 80% indicated that they exercise more often because of the group fitness classes available at their office.
  • Roughly three quarters of responders noted personal health improvements since they started taking group classes with NIFS instructors.
  • A full 96% indicated that the classes at their worksite were a definite employee perk.

The numbers tell us that group fitness is still a fantastic way for employers to create exercise opportunities for their employees. It’s a low-cost (or no-cost if employees pay) option that doesn’t require much equipment or space, and it can net positive health outcomes for employees. It just may earn you loyalty points as well.

If you’re sold on the idea of adding group exercise classes to your corporate wellness offerings but aren’t sure where to start, check out this blog and our quick read: 3 keys to adding group fitness at work.

Topics: group exercise corporate fitness motivation NIFS corporate fitness managment data corporate wellness consulting

Why Corporate Fitness Center Design Matters

Corporate_Fitness_Center-1When a business makes the commitment to put in a corporate fitness center, they are making a statement (hopefully one of many) about how important their employees’ health is. It’s a substantial investment, and the project is not to be taken lightly. 

From an outside perspective, you might think there’s not much to designing this kind of space. Put up the walls, install the equipment, and you’re ready to go, right? I suppose you can charge ahead with that philosophy, but you may be leaving quite a bit to chance in terms of building a space that is safe, efficient, and effective for your employees. 

From conception to completion, we’ve had the privilege of being involved in dozens of fitness center design projects over the last several years. Below are three reasons why we think thoughtful design in corporate fitness is key to a successful fitness center program.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Selecting the best equipment influences the success of your space.

When deciding which exercise equipment you want for your space, be sure to do your homework. Every sales rep will offer to lay out your space with their equipment for free. And every rep will tell you that their equipment is the best. Carefully lay out the features that are most important to you (don’t forget about warranty), and make a pro/con list for the equipment you’re considering to determine what will work best in your space and for your employees.

Hiring the right staff will help maximize use of the fitness center.

Only about 20% of American adults are meeting the physical activity guidelines as offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (And that’s probably a falsely high estimate because the data is gathered through self-report mechanisms.) So you can expect that less than 20% of your workforce would get enough exercise even if you didn’t put in an onsite fitness center. Simply offering a corporate fitness program isn’t enough to get employees in the inactive 80% camp to start moving. 

Corporate fitness is not an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. Having the right staff on board can make a big difference on utilization of spaces and programs through the fitness center. But you have to build the space from a user’s perspective in order to provide opportunities to maximize the programming that invites new participants. 

Your fitness management staff should be able to keep track of key metrics as well as provide a variety of programs (including group fitness classes) and services designed to draw in more users on a regular basis. 

Establishing the best possible layout will make a difference for users.

Thoughtful design will take into account the quantity and types of equipment needed in the space, as well as intended uses for the environment. For example, if you have an employee audience with an insatiable appetite for group fitness classes, don’t skimp on your studio space. Make it large enough to accommodate anticipated volume, and equip it with the right types of storage to house the group class toys. Carefully research what’s needed for the group fitness stereo, and pay close attention to work areas adjacent to the studio space to make sure that soundproofing is available where needed. 

Adequate locker room and shower space is a must, and easy access to drinking water is essential. Flooring surfaces need to be carefully considered along with where to place mirrors, how to orient equipment near and around windows, and what staff office/desk spaces will accommodate. 

And you should rely 100% on your architectural team to provide all of those elements for the space initially. But it’s not reasonable to expect that team to understand, from an operator’s perspective, how your fitness staff and employees will work and exercise in the space. Unless your architect had a previous career managing a corporate fitness center, my experience is that the architect might miss some key elements in the design that would ultimately inhibit the end-user experience.

If this brief outline of key design and program elements for your fitness center has you thinking you might be in over your head, check out our fitness center design sampling, or contact me to talk through the questions brought on from reading this post.

Topics: corporate fitness centers participation corporate wellness staffing fitness center design equipment corporate wellness consulting

3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program

Business man on ellipticalCosts for care, costs for absenteeism, vendor costs, the cost of doing nothing…there has been a lot of chatter and posturing online recently about this information as it relates to corporate wellness. In case you’re not quite up to speed on all the cost-related information, here’s an infographic that will give you some compelling, high-level numbers and information to digest. As corporate wellness goes, there’s a ton out there on ROI too. Whether it’s accurate is up for debate depending on who's doing the talking.

If you’ve read anything we’ve put out over the last several years, you know that NIFS falls into the “do for your employees, not to your employees” camp when it comes to workplace wellness. When you treat your employees well and you provide the right services and amenities for the right reasons, there will be value to the business.

While an onsite fitness center isn’t the right choice for every business, it is an amenity that falls squarely into our “for your employees” philosophy. If you have any heart for taking care of your employees like you take care of your business, here are three reasons you should be strongly considering adding a fitness center to your overall worksite wellness strategy.

#1: Taking Care of Your Talent

Your talented people are what make your business thrive. Technology matters, bricks and mortar play a role (most of the time), and other physical and cultural elements contribute to your success, but at the end of the day, it’s your people who make your business what it is. And you’re counting on them to perform at the top of their game.

Making it easy for your employees to exercise (through a corporate fitness center, for example) is one way to keep your smart and highly valuable employees using their talents for the benefit of your business. Compelling research has shown that adults who exercise reap more than just the physical benefits of movement.

  • This study shows that work-related benefits following a bout of exercise can include improved quality of work and better time management. The study also showed that exercise contributed positively toward an employee’s tolerance of his/her coworkers. And who couldn’t benefit from a more tolerant atmosphere?
  • This study shows that creativity is better following aerobic exercise and for at least a two-hour span after the exercise has been completed.
  • This article points out how we believe regular exercise can positively impact stress. And before you write off stress as a non-issue for the workplace, take a look at this data from an annual poll of American workers regarding workplace stress. (Bonus: you can take our own stress inventory at the end!)

[Related Content: 5 Tips to Help Your Employees Move More]

#2: Taking Care of Their Health

The physical health benefits of regular exercise are so well documented that I won’t bore you with study after study here. Let me instead take this opportunity to remind you of how easy it is to support your employees as they search for ways to get in the minimum recommended levels of exercise each day or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.

What you may not realize is that the health benefits of exercise can still be achieved if the 150 minutes is broken up into very small increments throughout the day. Yes, 10 to 15 minutes of movement two to three times each day is enough. So you can start to see the math add up on allowing flexible schedules for walk breaks, or short group exercise class opportunities, as viable ways to help your crew move more.  

#3: Taking Care of Your Turnover

A corporate fitness center falls squarely under the “Employee Benefits” category, and the link between benefits and turnover has been well studied. Turnover, although regarded by some as a positive for business (fresh ideas, new energy, "lose the dead weight", etc.), is still expensive.

  • This Gallup report outlines how to predict employee turnover, and points to pay and benefits as one of the top five predictors for employee turnover.
  • This Forbes article puts the spotlight on how treating employees well by providing them with access to “resources that support well-being and performance” has a positive but difficult-to-quantify impact on employees. The article spotlights the Virgin Pulse Workforce survey, which showed that 87 percent of polled employees give consideration to employer-sponsored health and well-being offerings before they choose to commit to an offer.

If you’ve had enough of the statistics, reports, and research, perhaps you’re ready to dig in on the options for creating a corporate fitness center. Click below to access our Guide for Successful Fitness Centers for a better understanding about the fitness center footprint, staffing and programs you can expect for your employees.

Download Our Guide >

Topics: corporate wellness employee health benefits corporate fitness centers ROI productivity corporate wellness consulting