Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

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

Residents Seek Quality Senior Living Fitness Programs

GettyImages-674714126 (1)I recently had a resident from one of our client sites in Illinois contact me wanting to know which senior living communities in greater-Indianapolis NIFS was partnered with as she would soon be relocating to be closer to her daughter. She wanted to refine her search to communities where NIFS was similarly providing a robust health and fitness program to what she had come to experience in her current community. She had done some exploring on her own and quickly recognized that communities simply having an onsite fitness center with some weekly exercise classes did not measure up for her.

Think about that for just a minute, she was making visits to communities and spending time on websites; a fitness center walk-thru during a tour or clicking on some pictures of amenities on a website were not showing her enough. This informed consumer understood the value and distinction of a professionally managed fitness program and she wanted to narrow her focus to where she knows NIFS helps communities deliver on their brand promise of supporting residents in living well. A couple of observations on her part that she loved about her NIFS program:

  • Amazing Staff: she commented on how much she enjoys and appreciates the knowledgeable and degreed NIFS staff at her community. She shared how much she valued the relationship with the staff and the creative and engaging ways they keep her motivated.
  • Robust Programming: she loves a good challenge and finds that NIFS exercise challenges, incentives and educational programs keep her motivated. She likes the regular schedule of NIFS initiatives and is always asking what’s next!

Community leadership or life enrichment staff in senior living communities might not even see the distinction the way this resident does. After all, fitness is only component of an overall wellness program and/or community to operate. Or perhaps you are thinking other seniors wouldn’t make such an astute observation in a fitness program.

When NIFS first begins staffing services at a community and offering creative programs to engage residents, one of the common pieces of feedback we hear from clients is, “We didn’t even know what we were missing or that you would be able to get as many different residents engaged.” They knew they wanted to do better when bringing us in, but how quickly we’d make an impact regularly takes them by surprise. It’s always one of our favorite moments in a client relationship!

Here are a couple of examples of that program growth at NIFS client locations:

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In particular, take a look at the Total Members, Classes Offered/Month and Class Participants/Month. There are not a significant number of new classes added to the calendar at either community but through our ability to recruit and engage more residents in the fitness program, overall class participation increased by 46% across these two communities. If you think your group fitness participation is strong now, how would it look with an increase of almost 50%? What about a 34% increase in the number of one-on-one appointments conducted during the month? What kind of message would that participation convey to current and prospective residents? Is that a distinction your community needs?

This holds true with many residents as well. Once they see and experience the distinction, the fitness program becomes one of their biggest areas of pride in the community and something they vocally champion to visitors, guests and family members. Over a decade ago when I was still managing a NIFS fitness center, it was always interesting to hear the oohs and ahhs of guests of residents who joined them for a class or came into the fitness center to exercise with them. They would often tell me how it compared to the fitness center in the community in which they lived or in comparison to the resources available to them aging in place at home. Again, they had to experience it to see the distinction.

Perhaps it’s time to evaluate the quality of your wellness program to discover opportunities for your community to create distinction in the active lifestyle of your residents. It may also be time to consider your marketing message and how you are positioning your fitness program with prospects.

Evaluate the quality of your wellness program, download our quick read below!

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Topics: senior fitness resident wellness programs resident fitness improving senior fitness

NIFS is Supporting the Heartline Study and You Can Too

GettyImages-1200863072With NIFS non-profit mission rooted in research and helping people age successfully through the lifespan, we are excited to support a new research study from Johnson and Johnson, in collaboration with Apple. Heartline is a heart health study for individuals 65+ with the goal of helping participants understand and directly engage in their heart health and improve health outcomes.

As NIFS is currently partnered with dozens of senior living communities across the country and our residents love to learn about a variety of health topics, current research, and trending technology, we reached out to Heartline to learn more. What we discovered is that NIFS is uniquely positioned within the senior living industry to help support this study while also inspiring our residents with their desire to learn, contribute and be active.

Check out the website at www.heartline.com/NIFS as they do a great job describing the intentions of the study and how to get involved. Anyone residing in the US who is 65+ with an iPhone 6s or later and who has Medicare coverage is eligible to participate. Hello huge boomer population, we are talking to you! You don’t have to be personally invited or residing within a senior living community to get involved. If you meet the criteria above, you can visit the website to get started.

Here are a few things that I took away from our first discussion together that I really liked about Heartline and the helpful folks from Johnson and Johnson.

  • Ease of use: The study first launched in early 2020 giving them opportunity to gather user feedback on the Heartline app. If we were to introduce the study to our members, we knew that many would have questions on the ease of participating and using their iPhone or Apple watch. The Heartline app is in the app store and is currently rated at 4.6 stars with many positive reviews on not only how easy it is to participate but how individuals have increased their physical activity levels as a result of participating. Win #1.
  • Participant perks: By joining the study, individuals are not only contributing to medical research but they receive heart health education and have an opportunity to earn rewards. Again, reading some of the reviews within the Heartline app is a great showcase of how beneficial some participants have found the educational aspect to be in making positive lifestyle choices. Win #2.
  • Getting started: The knowledgeable team members from Johnson and Johnson made it easy for NIFS to get started in promoting Heartline by providing us with marketing collateral to help spread the word to our members. Not only did they provide flyers and newsletter article content we could use, but they helped us tailor it in a way that aligns with our messaging to our members while meeting their standards. Win #3.

NIFS is now promoting the Heartline study within the fitness centers we manage in senior living communities to be an advocate of research, heart health and technology in the realm of physical activity and older adults. You can be an advocate too by sharing the website with local senior centers, senior living communities, church groups, or the seniors in your life.

Topics: resident wellness programs improving senior fitness

GET A MARKETING BOOST: Outsourcing Your Senior Living Fitness Center with The Pros

GettyImages-649787946The senior living industry has been fervently moving over the past decade to renovate and build fitness centers for their residents and the momentum is only growing.

As reported in Senior Housing News, funding towards wellness real estate increased
by 6.4% from 2015 to $134 billion in sales in 2017 and is projected to grow to $180 billion by 2022.

Now savvy consumers are further moving the needle inquiring about what programs and services are available to residents in those fitness centers. After all, that $180 billion projection for 2022 incorporates “wellness environments” as two meanings…both the physical spaces as well as the human environment and the individuals who residents will have to interact with and receive the support they need.

Having a personal trainer and fitness classes are a great starting point but it leaves a lot on the table to fully reach your entire resident population and not just the able-bodied residents who would likely find a means of being active regardless. Wherever your community might be in your fitness program development, check out these five advantages on how partnering with fitness management experts like NIFS can help you further serve your residents while giving your marketing and sales team a boost in setting your community apart from your competition.


FIVE ADVANTAGES TO PARTNERING WITH FITNESS MANAGEMENT EXPERTS LIKE NIFS

  1. Fall Prevention Programming
    NIFS comprehensive Balance Redefined program provides residents with a variety of balance training and fall prevention services year round. From balance exercise prescriptions to balance classes and educational workshops to closely collaborating with therapy, residents gain confidence and skills to maintain their independence and live well.

  2. Fitness Center Layout And Design
    Having a fitness center is one thing and having a well-designed fitness center with equipment that is functional, safe and laid out in a way that supports the scope of programming available to your residents is another. There are many manufacturers who claim to meet these needs but be cautious in the selection process. Our experience with dozens of equipment vendors, communities, etc., allows us to support clients in making choices on equipment and the layout of their space that best meets the needs of their residents.

  3. Marketing & Sales Partners
    Resident successes and engaging programming happen every day in your fitness center but getting those stories into the hands of your marketing and sales team can be a challenge. We provide clients with monthly resources for social media posting on current programs, health observances, etc., as well as routine reports summarizing program successes and resident accomplishments so they can help prospects not only see your physical spaces but learn about the offerings and resident accomplishments.

  4. AL/SNF Programming
    We all know communities are selling a lifestyle promise to residents wherever they might be in their aging journey and as healthcare needs change, so do fitness program needs and available resources. Our staff are readily teaching classes, providing one-on-one services and bringing programming resources to activities staff in licensed-areas on the campuses we serve. When we build a relationship with a resident in IL, we want to continue that relationship as the resident moves through the continuums.

  5. Robust Programming
    Even in communities where they have hired an FTE in-house to manage their program, we have learned that the limited resources available to that individual limits the potential for programming and services. We are regularly bringing residents fresh new offerings every single month to keep them inspired and asking us what’s next. With a network of like-minded professionals across the country, a NIFS fitness manager is plugged into new ideas, resources and trends that help bring a variety of wellness and fitness offerings to residents efficiently and with consistency.
Much like an individual’s own fitness journey, taking small steps can add up to making big strides in enhancing your community’s fitness program. Explore opportunities to build upon your existing successes and resident favorites and identify what resources you need to further expand and broaden your program’s impact.

Looking for a partner to help you in that exploration process? Contact NIFS for more information on our Fitness Management and Consulting Services.

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

Topics: senior fitness management senior living communities senior fitness fitness center for seniors improving senior fitness

Move More: Take a Break from Sitting

GettyImages-475200500Staying home is something we are all doing more of lately due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Spending more time at home has some benefits like increased family time, less driving, and especially lowering the risk of contracting COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are also hefty drawbacks to being homebound. As we spend more time inside, we are also sitting for longer and longer periods of time. Watching movies, reading books, or napping are all fun and enjoyable seated activities. Unfortunately, doing too much of these things can have disastrous results on our health. Taking breaks from sitting every 30 – 60 minutes will improve your safer-at-home experience by reducing risk of deadly blood clots, maintaining muscle and bone health, and using up energy that would otherwise be stored as fat.

  • First, sitting for extended periods of time negatively affects your body’s ability to circulate blood. When you spend too much time sitting, blood pools in the legs which can cause blood clots to form. This is known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Some DVT’s are small enough to not cause any harm, but it is possible for the clot to dislodge and travel to the lungs. This can lead to a deadly pulmonary embolism. Older adults are at a higher risk for blood clots like this, especially in combination with a medical history of cancer, obesity, or recent lower body surgery. To combat the risk of DVT’s and pulmonary embolisms, take frequent breaks from sitting.
  • Second, being immobile causes your muscles to shrink. The saying “use it or lose it” is true in this case. When you regularly stay seated for too long, your body adapts. The body’s ability to adapt is a marvelous thing, but it can unfortunately lead to some very negative side effects in this case. Muscles are responsible for movement. If we don’t move or exercise, there is no reason for our bodies to hold on to muscle tissue. All of this applies to bone tissue as well. If your bones do not frequently bear your weight, they will lose density and strength. This can lead to a condition called osteoporosis. Fortunately, there is a simple remedy. Get up, move around, and use your bones and muscles!
  • Finally, you should take breaks from sitting because it will help you maintain a healthy weight and body composition. When we are resting in a seated or reclined position, our bodies are not using very much energy. Long periods of inactivity lead to excess storage of energy, which in this case will be body fat. If your body holds on to too much stored fat, this can increase your risk of diseases like hypertension, type II diabetes, and cancer. To properly manage the amount of fat your body stores, it’s incredibly important to use up the energy that you consume (calories). The human body naturally uses energy from food to maintain its complex systems, but physical activity is the best way to burn more calories. To fight off excess body fat and the risk of disease that comes with it, manage your energy intake and output!

Optimal circulation, lean mass maintenance, and a healthy bodyweight are all goals that we should aim for during the COVID-19 epidemic and beyond. As we reduce our risk of contracting the virus, we should also aim to reduce our risk of serious inactivity related diseases. One extremely effective way to do this is taking breaks from sitting. At least once per hour, stand up and walk around for at least 5 minutes. Use your muscles by completing a few basic exercises like marching, wall push-ups, or chair stands. All of this together will help you stay healthy and strong as you stay at home. If you find yourself sitting down for a long period of time, remember to take a break from sitting every 30 – 60 minutes.

Check out our Quick Read for Basics for Fall Prevention Programming for your residents.

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Topics: senior fitness improving senior fitness movement

Top 5 Balance Training Tools for Seniors

Functional training (also referred to as balance training in our circle) is one of the four main components of fitness that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends be incorporated into weekly exercise programs for all populations. It’s not just cardio, strength training and stretching these days as the physical benefits of functional training ring true for all. The days of static exercises like standing on one foot are behind us – and thank goodness because frankly that’s boring and doesn’t truly simulate how we move in our everyday lives. Dynamic movement patterns, utilizing different training surfaces and unique pieces of exercise equipment can make balance training far more engaging and far more effective.

Here’s our equipment checklist for an effective balance training program:

  • Balance Pads & Beams – there are a variety of foam products on the market that can be utilized to enhance the challenge level of many balance exercises. Performing a balance stance on a foam pad or performing a tandem walk on a foam beam creates an unstable base of support kicking the somatosensory system into overdrive for improved lower body and core stabilization.
  • Biodex Balance System or Wii Fit – technology can make everything a little more fun and when any fitness endeavor feels less like “exercise” it can be a win! The Biodex Balance System provides an array of assessments, drills and games to track progress and engage residents in balance training exercises. The platform of the Wii Fit is a less expensive yet fun option to help residents play games while also working on weight shifting and balance.
  • Agility Ladders – these aren’t just for athletes! Tasking participants with a variety of stepping patterns both front to back and laterally can help improve stability and gait. Qualified fitness professionals can create countless exercises for residents to perform on an agility ladder for low to high-impact movements.
  • Painters Tape – perhaps the most basic piece of equipment of them all! Use painters tape to create a variety of grids and paths on the floor in your fitness center, aerobic studio, or even in an outdoor area. Fitness staff can help guide residents through a variety of movement patterns simulating ADL’s or perhaps other functional movements for recreational activities like GettyImages-526312285 (1)pickleball.
  • BOSU or Wobble Board – much like the challenge of completing a stomach crunch on a stability ball opposed to the stable floor, using a BOSU or Wobble Board while performing side leg lifts or squats helps to further engage the core and lower body muscles to get more bang for your buck out of that movement.

 

Our staff are using these tools every day in senior living communities across the US as part of NIFS Balance Redefined fall prevention programming. Having the equipment is one thing and having the creativity and expertise to apply them in balance classes, one-on-one services and other balance training offerings is another. The price points range greatly on these items from just a few dollars to thousands of dollars but the options are endless in how to creatively engage participants in effective balance training.

Learn more about Balance Redefined 

Topics: equipment improving senior fitness coordination agility balance challenge

Dance Your Way to Healthy Aging

NIFS | Senior dancing

Stay active as you age by putting on your dancing shoes! Fred Astaire said “Dancing is a sweat job!” But you don’t have to break a sweat to obtain the benefits of dancing; they have been proven to be unsurpassable. Dancing can be a fun for your residents, it can add a social element to your community, and it's a really good way to keep exercise exciting!

 

Teaching line dancing to seniors has allowed me the opportunity to see firsthand how this exercise provides healthy benefits for the mind as well as the body. Any form of dance would suffice in obtaining these wellness benefits, but if you’re worried that you need a partner, know that line dancing definitely doesn’t require one.


Fitness Benefits of Dancing

Here is a list of some healthy reasons to dance your way to fitness:

  • Improved cardiovascular, muscular strength, and flexibility.
  • Promotes healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and blood sugar.
  • Coordination improves as you work through the different movements.
  • Lung capacity can increase.
  • Bone strength can increase; bone loss can be stopped or slowed down.
  • Assists with weight control—half an hour of continuous line dancing can burn an average of 300 calories.
  • The social aspects of line dancing are obvious. Your sense of well-being and the camaraderie you have with the other dancers is wonderful for your health.

In addition to the above, did you know that dancing is an excellent brain exercise? It integrates several brain functions at once, increasing connectivity. As people age, maintaining memory and continuing to challenge intelligence is a real priority. What better way than to dance? Dancing requires memorizing steps, and that provides mental challenges that are crucial for brain health. Consider the fact that to execute a dance you need to remember the specific steps that flow in a sequence, and the brain has to inform the body how to move in a timely manner.

Not only does the physical aspect of dancing increase blood flow to the brain, but the social aspect of the activity leads to less stress, depression, and loneliness, which can also cause memory issues.

What Dancing Can Do for Your Balance

Dancing is also all about balance. Dancing consists of changing up the steps, arm patterns, formations, speed, and rhythm. All of these factors play a significant role in maintaining balance. Just envision doing the grapevine movement, where you must maintain balance as one leg crosses behind the other all while in motion.

Read our blog [Balance Programs: Are you meeting your residents needs?]

Not to mention that when you are dancing you are also dual-tasking. Dual-tasking has shown to improve gait and balance because everyday life involves doing one or more things simultaneously (walking and talking, or moving forward and looking to the side as examples). Therefore, when you’re moving your feet one way and arms or head the other in a dance routine, you are dual-tasking. Also don’t forget the fact that you’re having to think which steps come next.

Try the Grapevine Movement

Want to get started? Here’s the simple grapevine movement. Safety always comes first. Designate a place where you can reach to hold on if necessary, and modify your movements if crossing one foot behind the other is too challenging.

A grapevine is a series of steps in one direction, stepping to the side. Count 1, 2, 3, 4 to the beat of the music and do the following:

  • Step to the right with the right foot.
  • Cross the left foot behind the right foot. (You can modify by just slightly stepping back and not crossing entirely.)
  • Step right with the right foot, uncrossing your feet.
  • Close your feet together.
  • Repeat stepping to the left with your left foot as well.

See how NIFS Premier Balance Redefined Programming enhances resident wellbeing. Download our Media Kit below.

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Topics: weight loss bone density brain health depression flexibility balance training for seniors improving senior fitness dancing healthy aging

Knowing what makes your residents tick could improve programs

Your community is, or should be built on resident satisfaction. Your residents are your priority, but they are also your revenue. Without them, your community increases the chances of failing. It’s important to understand this when building programming at your senior living community.

Every community is different. Every resident has a specific want or need. Our job as Wellness Managers is to hone in on what those needs and wants are and to address them. How do you do this? Here are five ways to assess your wellness programs so they are continuously successful and you are meeting the demands of your residents.

NIFS | A closer look

#1 - Get to know your resident population

It takes some time to understand what your residents really enjoy. It’s also important to note that not all residents are the same. Where some may enjoy the social interaction and class environment, others enjoy solitary fitness or wellness programs. It’s important to identify these differences and make sure that wellness programs have variety and cover many different personalities and preferences.

#2 - Listen to ALL resident feedback and take action

This can be tough, but is necessary to grow and develop a program that residents enjoy. If a resident comes to you and says, “I don’t think this program is successful and this is why…,” it’s important to take a deep breath, and LISTEN. As hard as it may be to sit back as it feel like someone is tearing your hard work into shreds, they are providing valuable information to improve your programming. Be open to the positive and negative feedback so you can make the necessary changes for improvement.

#3 - Evaluate your wellness programs

Evaluating wellness programs is the key to success. There are many different ways to do this. The best way is to keep track of your data and evaluate it. How many residents participated in your event/program/specialty classes? Did it show an increase in overall participation for the month in which you ran the program? Did you make a survey and distribute it to residents that participated? These are all valuable ways of gathering information to see if wellness programs are a hit or a miss.

#4 - Make sure programs are evolving over time

Your programs should evolve with your residents. If you have been running the same wellness programs for five years and haven’t changed them at all, it becomes routine, less exciting for some, and participation may decrease. Give residents something new and fun to enjoy. I am not telling you to completely re-invent the wheel, but to simply add/take away/replace some aspect of your program to make it more enticing and fresh. You’ll be amazed by what small and simple modifications can do for the community and programs.

#5 - Ask for help

It’s okay to ask community leaders, colleagues and staff members for information and help to reignite or invent a completely new program. Team work is one of the best ways for a community to put on a great event. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout your planning.

Being proactive in assessing fitness and wellness programs will not only keep you informed about the impact you are making for your community, it will also show that you genuinely care about the goals you are trying to achieve. Your community will recognize that not only are you putting in the effort to make a program, but you are also putting in the groundwork to make that program successful, enjoyable, and have a positive impact for residents.

Click below to learn more about partnering with NIFS to manage your senior living community fitness center.

Partner with NIFS to improve your senior living community

Topics: active aging senior fitness management resident wellness programs program evaluation nifs fitness managment senior living wellness programs programming resident engagement improving senior fitness

Senior Living: Putting the Fun Back in Your Fitness Program

When planning exercise and physical activity programs for our active older adults, it’s sometimes easy to get lost in the nuts and bolts of programming, and as a result, we can forget to ask one important question about our programs.  “Are the residents having fun?”  We know how important fun and play is for all ages, but it’s especially crucial for senior living residents that commonly struggle with anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

Finding ways to create a fun environment is especially important when developing exercise programs because for most people exercising isn’t inherently a “fun” endeavor. This is even more the case for the average active aging resident who might have limited exposure to exercise, and when they think of exercise all they picture is what they see on reality TV shows. So, how can we can make our programming more enjoyable for all residents?

Playing sports

We don’t always think about sports when it comes to senior living, but sports play is a great way to add fun into your current programming, and to provide your residents a chance to relieve past glories, or have an experience they’d never expected to have. The best part is that every sport can be modified to fit your residents and their abilities. This past spring we introduced Chair Volleyball to the residents at North Oaks, and it was an instant hit. They had so much fun, that they played for almost an hour and didn’t realize it. Most encouraging was that the majority of the group had never played volleyball in their lives, and now had a brand new experience they could return to for social interaction and movement. 

NIFS | seniors seated fitness

Adding a social aspect to group fitness classes

This is the simplest, cheapest, and easiest thing you can do today. Instead of just walking through the door, teaching, and leaving; strive to make your classes more interactive. This could be as simple as having participants count repetitions when lifting weights with you. Earlier in my career I started classes off by telling a silly joke, and it became a hit. From that point on, I allowed participants to provide the jokes every day. It was simple, a lot of fun, a great opportunity for important social interaction, and was something to look forward to before each class. 

[Read More: How One Community Got Focused on Brain Fitness]

Striking up random silliness

Here is where you have a tremendous opportunity to be creative and take advantage of the personalities of each residents.  It can be as simple as playing music with different themes in the fitness center, in a group classes, or having a day where the participants wear funny hats and dress in the same color. The potential ideas are limitless and can really help create an environment where the residents are active members of your programs and not just passive participants. 

 Obviously, what every person considers to be fun will be different, but that provides an incredible opportunity to try new things and think outside of the box. Finding ways to increase the “fun level” of your programming can sometimes be a challenge, but there are plenty of easy, lost cost ways to increase the value of programs for residents.  What are some ideas that you have tried in your facility to make your programs more fun? If you’re thinking about this for the first time,  it’s time to have some fun and get creative!

How we improved an already successful fitness program

Topics: active aging senior fitness adding fun to senior fitness improving senior fitness