Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Fitness Staff Collaboration: NIFS Helps with Professional Development

IMG_2504Variety is the spice of life, and that’s what we’ll have in town this week at our annual managers’ meeting. Each year we fly our management team to our headquarters in Indianapolis for professional development, collaboration, and networking. Our passionate team arrives from across the U.S. from different client settings and with varying personal interests and backgrounds. Their one commonality is their passion for serving their members, and we love the dialogue and collaboration that unfold when everyone gets together.

3 Benefits of Collaboration for Fitness Staff

This connection and access to a wealth of resources is one of the strongest value elements we bring to our clients. They receive our onsite fitness staff managing their program and building relationships with members, plus the expertise of a national organization doing this work across the U.S. How does this routine collaboration truly elevate a fitness program?

  • They don’t feel like they are on an island. As a fitness professional in a corporate or senior living setting, it can feel like you are isolated without resources or like-minded individuals who have similar goals and job duties. NIFS has routine meetings, workshops, and events like our annual meeting in Indianapolis to bring new ideas, resources, and inspiration to your fitness program, keeping things fresh and exciting for your members as well as your fitness staff.
  • They can benefit from vetted programs and promotions. Sometimes it can be hard to execute a vision for a program or determine how to best reach a group of individuals because you aren’t quite sure how to get started or you are concerned about unanticipated road bumps along the way. NIFS managers regularly connect on a variety of platforms to discuss new ideas and ask for feedback among their peers. This provides members at our client sites with more finely tuned and professional programming.
  • They are connected to the latest trends. Fitness is a trendy industry, whether you are working with children, the general population, or seniors. By having staff from the four corners of the U.S. and a little bit of everywhere in between, this broad reach keeps our team connected to not only what is trending but how to educate and market new programming to members in our client settings.

3 Tips to Garner Collaboration for Fitness Staff

So what do you do if you aren’t connected to an organization like NIFS to help keep your staff connected?

  • Professional development: Provide funding to send your staff to workshops to help them stay plugged into the industry. Without an organizational connection they might still miss opportunities to learn how others are effectively implementing that type of programming in your setting, but it can certainly lead to some fresh ideas and keep staff inspired.
  • Create a network: Do you have neighboring communities or businesses with staffed fitness centers with which you could encourage collaboration? Perhaps there’s a network of senior living communities in your town where the fitness staff could get together once a quarter for idea sharing. Perhaps your group fitness instructors, trainers, and fitness manager at your corporate site could meet once a quarter to discuss what they are hearing from members, share ideas to attract new participants, etc. Your network can be in-house with existing personnel or branching out, but creating space for discussion among like-minded individuals can be advantageous.
  • Identify a strong contact: Whether or not someone at your setting is in-tune with the fitness industry, make sure your fitness staff has someone who has a good listening ear and an understanding of your fitness program’s goals. Fitness staff can feel less isolated in their decision-making when they have a partner at the site level who understands the work they are doing, and when they have someone in their corner for brainstorming or discussing member needs.

This collaboration is where the magic happens in taking a fitness program from good to great!

Find out more about NIFS Fitness Center Staffing

Topics: senior living fitness center fitness trends nifs fitness center management corporate fitness management onsite fitness center fitness center staffing nifs staff networking professional development

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!

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

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

Liven Up Your Senior Living Community Fitness Center

Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 2.34.17 PMPicture this: You are 78 years old touring a senior living community with the marketing and sales coordinator. They take you to the ground floor or basement of the building and they flip on the lights of the uninhabited fitness center. It has painted cinderblock walls, fluorescent lights, no windows, and a hodgepodge of equipment. It feels deserted and you wonder how active the community is.

You then tour a neighboring community and you see the fitness center on the main floor, with sleek and contemporary equipment, dedicated staff leading residents through a workout, light pouring in through the windows, and more residents passing by in the hallway just having left the bistro next door from an afternoon coffee talk.

These two environments paint highly different images of a community and the residents’ experience engaging in an active lifestyle. While the ground-floor space is quiet and functional for exercise, the main-floor fitness center conveys vibrancy and a sense of community. It is a space to inspire residents to be active and champion a healthy lifestyle. The purpose of my comparison is not to bash ground-floor fitness centers, however; we have developed highly successful fitness programs in this exact environment. But if you have the means to move your fitness center to a more central location, it’s something to consider.

Moving the Fitness Center out of the Basement

Over the years, we have witnessed more and more clients bringing their fitness centers out of the basement or tucked-away spaces and positioning the fitness center as part of the central hub of activity alongside their dining venues and auditoriums. It isn’t just another room where people who like to exercise can go. It is in the forefront and inspires residents to go exercise!

This type of renovation can be easier said than done in finding the space, resources, and more to make this kind of transition happen. Even if you don’t have the resources at the moment to renovate or relocate your fitness center, there is plenty that communities can do to cultivate that inspiring and engaging environment. After all, we’ve seen some of the most beautiful, state-of-the-art fitness centers go underutilized without proper staffing support for residents.

Liven Up Your Fitness Space

Consider these three tips to liven up any fitness space.

  • Staffing, staffing, staffing! Of course I’m going to beat this drum, but we’ve watched underutilized fitness centers from 800 square feet to 2,500 square feet blossom into lively and inviting spaces simply by adding qualified fitness staffing who build relationships with the residents and offer quality programs and services. Give your fitness center a personal connection and draw for residents.
  • Give it a facelift: It’s always amazing what a coat of paint and fresh flooring can do for a space. If your space is lacking windows, make sure plenty of lighting is available and choose a light paint color.
  • Update the small supplies: Sometimes the small supplies of dumbbells, stability balls, ankle weights, and so on can overrun a space and make it feel cluttered without proper storage solutions. Consider how these items are housed and consider making small investments in storage options or replacing items. A dumbbell rack with uniform weights, for example, is much sleeker than mismatched styles and colors you’ve accumulated over time.

If you are looking to give your space an upgrade or interested in more information on qualified staffing to champion your fitness program, contact the experts at NIFS.

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

Topics: senior fitness senior living community senior living fitness center fitness center design equipment fitness center staffing improve your fitness center

NIFS Consulting: Helping Your Fitness Program Go from Good to GREAT!

Fitness management services are the foundation of our business, but did you know we also offer an array of consulting services to support communities who do not staff with us? While it isn’t quite the same as having our qualified staff on the ground daily at your community, many clients have found a consulting partnership with NIFS to be advantageous in connecting their own staff, amenities, and more with an industry expert who can provide them with the direction and resources to elevate the programs they are providing their residents.

5 Consulting Opportunities with the NIFS Experts

Here are some ways that you can collaborate with NIFS to improve your fitness and wellness offerings:

  1. Facility layout and design: As operators of fitness centers across the country, we know how to make spaces flow for improved member experience and overall function. We also have national buying power with top equipment manufacturers to bring your facility the right equipment for your users. Whether it’s a fitness center or pool, we can help you identify the right pieces of exercise equipment to incorporate into a creative and expertly designed space.
  2. Staff hiring and training: 20181024_080931-1From group fitness instructors, to personal trainers, to fitness managers, finding the right people is at the heart of what we do, and our interview and vetting process helps us find the best of the best. If you are looking for support in recognizing fitness qualifications and making the right hire for your community, NIFS can lead your interview process. We can also aid in the training process once you make your hire to get your new team member on the right path and connected to NIFS resources and programming materials.
  3. Wellness program design: Let us help you identify fresh opportunities to create purpose and intention in the lifestyle cultivated for your residents. We know how to break down the silos and bring together enrichment, health services, fitness, rehab, food and beverage, spiritual services, and more for seamless programming that is both seen and felt by your residents. Conceptually, many communities struggle with getting these key stakeholders in resident well-being collaborating with a unified vision, and we can help you bridge this into reality.
  4. Data collection and evaluation: It’s difficult to determine how effective your programs and services are and how many people you are reaching consistently if you don’t have data to evaluate. We can help your fitness staff develop an efficient system for tracking participation data, identify key benchmarks to measure and evaluate over time, as well craft SMART goals to continually strive toward program enhancements.
  5. Group fitness program design: Residents love their group fitness classes, but are you certain that your community has an array of classes to address the main components of fitness throughout the week for varying intensity levels? We have a niche for developing robust group fitness programs as well as best practices on how to market the classes, how to attract new faces, and how to keep the classes fresh so that this resident favorite at your community reaches more individuals and remains strong.

Even if your organization does not avail itself of the full range of fitness management services that NIFS offers, you can still consider consulting with us on specific pieces of the puzzle to strengthen your fitness and wellness offerings. Not sure what to expect when utilizing our consulting services?  Check out our quick read below for more information.

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Topics: nifs fitness management nifs fitness management staffing data collection fitness center design fitness center staffing program management senior wellness consulting

Retirement Community Fitness Centers - Is Bigger Always Better?

This post was updated on May 7, 2018.

There is a trend NIFS | Senior Fitness Center Designamong owners and operators of senior living communities toward a focus on resident wellness. The movement is based in research findings which indicate that opportunities for residents to live actively are important both to prospective residents as well as to their family members. Couple those findings with the constant news updates about how good regular exercise is for older adults and its easy to see why communities are so focused on ramping up their resident wellness programming. 

Perhaps the most visible element in a community's overall wellness program is their exercise offerings. When I consult for senior living clients on their fitness program, I am often asked if size matters when it comes to their physical space for exercise. Does it matter that their fitness center is small, with only a few pieces of equipment? Does it matter that they don't have dedicated group exercise class space? They can't afford to put in a pool - is that a problem for growing their exercise program?

 

Size isn't the only consideration.

Size is an important consideration, but it shouldn't be the only consideration. Much positive and fulfilling life can be lived by your residents in even the smallest spaces. We've worked with several clients who are small on space, but significant on providing meaningful and effective programming designed to engage rather than entertain residents. The challenge becomes accommodating as many participants as possible when your footprint is tight. Creative thinking can often help you solve issues like not enough equipment or overcrowding in exercise classes.

Where size does matter is when we're looking at the passion, personality, and skills of the individual(s) leading the exercise programming at your community. Even the biggest, shiniest, most state of the art fitness centers, pools, and other healthful spaces will become like a ghost town if there is no staff presence (or it’s the wrong staff presence) there to connect with your residents. Staff personality and capability reign supreme when it comes to a quality, compelling, and invitational programming at your community. 

[Learn More: Read our case studies on the impact of staff for a successful exercise program]

Get the size of your staffing just right.

There are a few ways you can invest in quality staffing for your exercise program:

  • You can provide your own staffing.
  • You could also consider tapping an existing partner for this service. We see therapy groups sliding into this market.
  • You can partner with a group like NIFS who does fitness center management as a core business.
Be careful about hiring your own exercise specialist; it's not rocket science, but there is likely more to hiring, training, and providing ongoing support for your new fitness manager than you realize. Also understand that if you connect with your therapy partner for exercise programming, your fitness environment and services will remain clinical in nature. Outsourcing is an option and when it comes down to weighing the full value proposition, it may not cost your community more than hiring your own fitness professional. 
 
Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

There’s a lot at stake here.  Not enough staffing, or the wrong staff member(s) could poke a serious hole in what should be an uplifting, feel-good offering at your community. If you don’t have the money to spend on the bricks and mortar, make sure you have the resources to effectively operate what space you do have, or the entire investment could provide less than stellar results.

Topics: senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior fitness fitness center staffing