Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Free Workout Friday: Summer Arms

describe the imageThe weather is warming up a little more each week, so that means it’s the season for swimsuits and tank tops! Even though many people exercise hard for the first half of the year to prepare for “swimsuit season,” many people tend to let their workouts take a vacation as well during the summer. Some easy ways to squeeze in exercise during the summer months are to take a walk outside, take the kids to a pool and play with them in the water, plan a vacation that involves activity such as hiking or canoeing, or walk or bike to your favorite restaurant instead of driving.

As you are getting those arms summer-ready, remember that when toning and shaping of muscles is the goal, strength exercises should be done in addition to a weekly cardio routine. Performing both cardio and strength exercises will help eliminate excess body fat while sculpting lean muscle. Here are some specific toning exercises for the shoulders, biceps and triceps that can be done anywhere. If you don’t own dumbbells at home or aren't able to make it to your corporate fitness center, you can use water bottles, cans or anything that can be easily held and is light-medium weight. Complete the following exercises striving for 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets.

1. Basic push-ups (on toes or knees)

2. Alternating lateral/frontal raise

3. Overhead tricep extension

4. Bicep curls

5. Shoulder press

6. Dips

Topics: exercise nifs fitness management muscle toning Free Workout Friday mixing workouts

Corporate Fitness: Free Workout Friday

C  Users kgootee Dropbox Images Worksite Fitness resized 600We don’t really know how other management companies do what they do for their clients; corporate fitness services aren’t easy to secret shop.  But we are great at what we do – we’ve got the satisfaction survey feedback and testimonials to back that up.  If your company works with NIFS in their corporate fitness center, there are a TON of services our staff provides to your employees at no extra cost.  Yes, that’s right.  We give a TON of services that are FREE to your members.  We take the “it costs too much” barrier for much of your workforce out of the equation up front because our primary interest is in helping your people live well. We don’t have shareholders to impress, and we don’t put up fancy bells and whistles that mask a very lean menu of complimentary services.  Nope – we’re not fancy-schmancy.  Instead we are a hard working, compassionate crew who are focused on serving your employees.

So enough babbling about us.  We’ve provided a FREE workout for you below along with a listing of some of our many complimentary services that are available to your employees when you provide NIFS as the staffing partner for your corporate fitness center.  There are a lot of great benefits we provide to the client as well – to find out more about those benefits, contact us.

This workout includes both strength exercises as well as cardio intervals to really kick up the intensity and burn more calories in a short amount of time.

  1. Body weight squats: 12-15 reps
  2. Push-ups (regular or on knees): 10-12 reps
  3. High knees: 30-45 sec.
  4. 1-arm dumbbell row: 12-15 reps per arm
  5. Alternating lunges: 20 reps (10 per leg)
  6. Mountain climbers: 30-45 sec.
  7. Shoulder press: 12-15 reps
  8. Overhead tricep extension: 12-15 reps
  9. Bicep curl: 12-15 reps

*Go back to #1 and repeat workout for a total of 2-3 sets, as time allows.

Finish with one round of each of the following for core:

  1. Stability ball crunch: 20 reps
  2. Russian twist: 20 reps (10 per side, alternating)
  3. Core plank: hold until fatigue
  4. Supermans: 20 reps

Want more workouts like this? Consider using NIFS to professionally staff your worksite wellness or fitness center. Here is a list of all the completely free services that NIFS’ staff members can offer to your employees:

  • Exercise Consultations- A NIFS health/fitness specialist will sit down with the employee, asking him/her specific questions relating to their currently level of activity, past experience with exercise, exercise preferences, and goals in order to make detailed recommendations.
  • Exercise Prescriptions- Upon completing a consultation, your employees will be able to receive a detailed workout plan from a NIFS health/fitness specialist. The employee will run through the workout at least once with a staff member to insure that he/she understands the workout, demonstrates proper form, and feels confident repeating the workout on their own for the following 6-12 weeks. Members may have repeated exercise prescriptions.
  • Individual Fitness Assessments (IFA)- Employees will have the opportunity to schedule a series of exercise tests to gauge their current level of fitness in five different categories: body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, aerobic capacity and flexibility. The NIFS health/fitness specialist will administer the tests accurately and give a thorough breakdown of the employees of their results, as well as show comparisons to national averages for their age/gender. These results prove to be valuable in helping the employee more clearly define their exercise goals.
  • Routine Blood Pressure Screenings- Any employee may utilize the NIFS staff to routinely check his/her blood pressure. The NIFS staff will keep a log of the readings that the employee can share with his/her family physician, which can assist in decisions of medication. When high blood pressure is identified, NIFS staff can make recommendations for exercise, diet and stress level to help lower those levels.
  • Educational Print Materials- Each month, NIFS staff will provide one newsletter, one John Journal and at least two bulletin boards to be posted throughout the worksite. These materials include a wide range of topics, and the content covers national health observances and events specific to that particular month.
  • Stretch Breaks- If you are responsible for hosting a long meeting for your employees, contact NIFS staff to present a “stretch break.” Stretch breaks are designed to last 5-10 minutes and will leave your employees more energized and tension-free, keeping them more alert and productive in the middle of lengthy meetings.
Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program corporate fitness worksite wellness muscle toning NIFS corporate fitness centers corporate fitness managment weight training

Corporate Fitness: Kettlebell Exercises

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

What are the benefits of incorporating kettlebells into your workouts?

Kettlebells resized 600Kettlebells have a comfortable, easy-to-use handle, which I feel is a little safer if you are swinging them around your head, although others may think because the weight is on the bottom, one slip of your grip could lead to an injury.

Kettlebells allow you to get a greater range of motion, and force you to use more stabilizer muscles. The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn! Performing a lot kettlebell exercises will help to strengthen your core as well. Core muscles play a major role in stabilizing your body.

Kettlebells in the Corporate Fitness Center

Working at a corporate fitness center, we teach a lot of classes and work with a fit population overall. Our participants like to be challenged using the kettlebells. They are good way to mix up workouts instead of always using traditional dumbbells. These fun-looking weighted balls with a handle are also easy to store and don’t take up a lot of room, which is good for group fitness classes.

Best Kettlebell Exercises

A squat kettlebell swing is one of my favorite exercises. This single exercise strengthens the lower body, core, and shoulders, and gets the heart rate up. What’s not to love? I’ve listed a few of my other favorite kettlebell exercises. Try them today!

Topics: muscle toning corporate fitness centers weight training

How to Lose Weight and Tone Up in the Corporate Fitness Center

This blog was written by Lisa Larkin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

cardiovascular exercise, corporate wellness, health and fitnessWorking at a corporate fitness center, I get a lot of questions on how to shrink the waistline. You may or may not have heard the phrase “you can’t spot reduce,” and it’s true. For example, performing stomach exercises alone won’t decrease the size of your stomach. There are, however, a couple of different things to consider when wanting to lose weight or tone up.

Cardio Burns Fat

You must do cardio; if you already do cardiovascular exercise four or five days a week, kick up the intensity of your cardio sessions. For example, add an incline while walking or jogging on the treadmill. Increase your resistance level on the bike or elliptical. If you aren’t currently involved in regular cardio exercise, that’s a good place to start. Spiking up your heart rate and oxygen consumption will help to burn fat.

Strength Training Builds Muscle and Bone Strength

Strength training is just as important as cardio. Performing strength training exercises can get your heart rate up, too, along with building muscle and bone strength. This will also help you to burn more calories while at rest. If you aren’t familiar with how to safely perform strength training exercises, schedule an appointment with your corporate fitness center staff.

Planks Strengthen Your Core

My last suggestion would be planks―and a variety of them! Planks help to strengthen your core (abdominals and lower back). I feel they are more effective than abdominal crunches. To perform a basic plank, you are on your elbows and toes. Keep your shoulders above your elbows and push your weight back toward your feet, as opposed to hovering over your shoulders. Start holding it for as long as you can and progressively add seconds onto your time. Ready, set, up!

Topics: corporate fitness weight loss muscle toning cardio

What Corporate Fitness Clients Need to Know About Barefoot Running

This blog was written by Mechelle Meadows. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Finding ways to incorporate current trends, or at least educating yourself and clients about them, is key to keeping your corporate wellness programming fresh. So if you haven't experienced the recent barefoot running movement, here's what you and your corporate fitness clients need to know.

barefoot running, employee wellness, fitnessAlthough barefoot running has existed for quite some time, the movement has reemerged in the past couple years. Rather than advertise any special shoe or apparel to enhance your runs, barefoot running followers suggest ditching the shoes completely to run with newfound freedom and a better connection to the ground than before.

Now the first thought running through the mind of your corporate fitness center members is probably along the lines of “Wouldn’t that hurt my feet if I happened to step directly on a rock or hard surface?” Podiatrist Stephen Pribut, DPM (quoted in this article), would agree, saying, “Most of my patients aren’t world-class runners. It wouldn’t make sense for them to risk getting twigs and glass in their feet.”

However, the same article points out that when you are wearing socks and tennis shoes, the body loses some of its proprioceptive awareness. Without the motion-control or stability features of a good running shoe, the foot and leg muscles have to work harder to react to surfaces. From my research over the past year, there is a general lack of strong evidence that wearing shoes is much better for the runner’s stride or biomechanics.

From an injury and liability standpoint, barefoot running is not something corporate health and wellness programs should incorporate onsite. Most fitness centers should hold policies of wearing tennis shoes at all times on equipment. If your runners are dying to try the trend for themselves, suggest they do it on their own time, offsite, on ground that appears to be safe.

Do any of your corporate fitness center members believe in barefoot running?

Topics: corporate wellness muscle toning exercise at home

Worksite Fitness: Improving Your Golf Game with Flexibility

This blog was written by Megan Jack. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Gold, corporate fitness, flexibilitySpring is in the air, and you know what that means: golf season, an event of particular importance to corporate health and wellness clients. The single most important thing you can do to improve your golf game this year is to improve your flexibility.

The Benefits of Flexibility

Limited range of motion and lack of flexibility is responsible for keeping most golfers from reaching their full potential. Simply, the easier and more fluidly your body can turn, the better, more powerful your swing. Stretching is a key element in both injury prevention and peak performance. A proper stretching regime benefits the golfer by

  • Developing a smoother swing
  • Delivering more power to the ball with less effort
  • Reducing aches and pains

Developing a Proper Flexibility Program

Before beginning your round of stretching, complete a warm-up consisting of 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, etc.) to raise your body temperature. Studies show that a proper warm-up will increase muscle extensibility and let you stretch more safely and effectively. Stretch prior to play, during play (when you feel you need to stretch), and post play. Follow this flexibility regime:

Knee to Chest: Stretching lower back and gluteal muscles

  • Lie on back with body extended.
  • Bend one knee, bringing it toward the chest.
  • Grasp with both hands behind the bent knee.
  • Hold the stretch, breathing for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.

Cat and Camel: Stretching upper and lower back muscles

  • Kneel on all fours.
  • Slowly round the back, arching it upward and bringing the head toward the floor.
  • Hold the stretch, breathing for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Slowly scoop the back, bringing your abdomen toward the floor.
  • Hold the stretch, breathing for 20 to 30 seconds.

Figure Four: Stretching hips and gluteal muscles

  • Lie on back with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross right leg over left knee.
  • Grasp with both hands behind the left knee, pulling the knee toward the chest.
  • Hold the stretch, breathing for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.

Hurdler’s Stretch: Stretching hamstring muscles

  • Sit upright with right leg out to the side.
  • Bend left the knee, bringing the left foot in to touch the right inner thigh.
  • Reach toward the right foot, holding the stretch and breathing for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Quad Stretch: Stretching middle and upper quadriceps

  • Stand holding onto a wall for support.
  • Bend left leg, bring foot toward glute, and grasp left foot.
  • Keep knees together and flex your gluteal muscles.
  • Stretch, breathing for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

Pec Stretch: Stretching pectoralis (chest) muscles

  • Stand facing an open doorway or corner.
  • Bend elbows to shoulder height at sides and place palms against the doorframe or wall.
  • Lean body forward, stretching and breathing for 20 to 30 seconds.

Consider starting a golf league within your company. It’s just another way to incorporate worksite wellness into your program!

Topics: exercise corporate fitness muscle toning

Worksite Fitness: Post-Pregnancy Muscle Toning

This blog was written by Megan Jack. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

pregnancy, exercise, abdominal mucsles, toningThe deepest part of the abdominal wall―and the most important, specifically for postpartum exercise―is the transverse abdominis. These muscle fibers run horizontally across the abdomen and perform abdominal compression, which draws the belly inward and narrows the waist. It is sometimes referred to as the “internal girdle.”

The Flat-Belly Muscle

After pregnancy or excessive abdominal weight gain, the transverse acts as a splint helping to close any abdominal separation. It is the body’s most important core stabilizer and is responsible for “re-flattening” the abdominal wall. With pregnancy, the abdominal wall has been pushed outward for nine months. It is important to first retrain those muscles to pull back in toward the spine.

A common mistake postpartum is to jump right into crunches, which strengthens the external layers (rectus abdominis). External layers can then overpower the transverse, leaving it functionally weak. This in turn causes the abdominal wall to bulge outward, specifically below the waist. So I encourage my corporate fitness clients to train those abs from the inside out. 

An Exercise for Tightening Your Core

It is never too late to retrain and balance out all of your core muscles. Try the following exercise from, beginning with 3 sets of 5 repetitions held for 5 seconds, and progressing to 3 sets of 8 repetitions for 10 seconds.

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat.
  2. Place a Bender Ball between your knees.
  3. Place an object such as a toy block or two hockey pucks taped together on your stomach in line with the hip bones.
  4. Without holding your breath, squeeze the Bender Ball between your knees and draw the pucks down into the abdomen without initiating a crunching action. Some visualization cues to think about: “Navel to spine” or “zipping up a tight pair of pants.”

As you pull your belly in, you should notice the pucks or block sinking. If they rise as you complete the exercise, stop, reset, and try again.

Topics: corporate fitness muscle toning

Wii Balance Program for Senior Fitness: A Follow-up

This blog was written by Sean Holbrook. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

A month ago I wrote "Wii Fit and Wii Sports: Why They're Good for Senior Fitness," which covered the benefits of the Nintendo Wii to increase physical activity among seniors. That blog set off the proverbial light bulb in my head and made me wonder how could I incorporate Nintendo's Wii into senior fitness classes at my Continuing Care Retirement Community.

senior fitness, balance, coordination, muscular toningI had originally planned a four-week balance program with a three-month follow-up using the Fullerton Advanced Balance (FAB) test to be launched the following month. But I came up with a way to incorporate the Wii Fit to use the initial body test on the game as one of the pre- and post-test measurements for the program. Along with using the Wii Fit body test, participants performed a baseline assessment using the FAB test.

Based on their performance in the baseline assessments, participants would be set up with personalized exercises that focused on one to two specific areas pertaining to their balance that needed the most work. The most common areas were lower-body weakness, center-of-gravity control (standing and dynamic), vestibular impairments (inner ear), and poor use of vision.

Along with individualized exercise programs, participants were encouraged to use the Wii Fit and play balance games to become more aware of their center of gravity and work on their center-of-gravity control. The most popular balance games used during the program included ski jump, lotus focus (using it with tandem and semi-tandem balance stances), snowboard slalom, and ski slalom.

It has been about six weeks since the program began and many of the participants have begun their four-week assessments. I'm happy to report positive results. At the four-week assessment, 80 percent of the participants have shown improvements over their FAB baseline tests. The most common areas of improvement have been lower-body strength and center-of-gravity control. The participants are scheduled for a second three-month follow-up, which will give them adequate time to see significant changes in their balance and on their scores in the FAB test.

Topics: muscle toning senior fitness

2011 Group Exercise Trends for Corporate Fitness Programs

This blog was written by Penny Pohlmann, MS. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

Why have group exercise classes remained popular since their introduction in the '80s? I don’t think it’s the leg warmers and leotards, but I could be wrong. Perhaps it is the motivation and social interaction that come with exercising with a group. Or it could be the time-efficient solution in our time-stressed culture.

Whatever it is that continues to draw people to participate in group exercise classes, this area of the fitness and exercise world goes through trends and fads much like other areas in life. Here are some trends you can expect to see in 2011.


This Latin-inspired dance class is exploding right now. The Zumba motto, which is “Ditch the Workout; Join the Fun,” is a perfect way to describe how its participants feel about the class. “It’s so fun you forget you’re working out,” one of my members said to me. I think the bass-thumping music has something to do with it, too.

Boot Camp

You guessed it: This military-style class attracts both men and women for the no-frills approach to working out. Boot camp groups have been growing in popularity for the last several years, and they are still on the rise in 2011. Instructors lead their recruits through pushups, jumping jacks, lunges, and sprints before the sun rises.

Early mornings aren’t for you? Because of their popularity, health clubs and gyms are offering many indoor boot camps at all times of the day.

C  Documents and Settings kgootee My Documents Dropbox Hubspot Images group yoga resized 600Yoga

This slow paced, gentle exercise class known for its stress-relieving style of mind and body exercise is especially popular in corporate fitness centers. In addition to the traditional style of yoga, called hatha yoga, look for other forms to emerge in 2011, like power yoga and hot or bikram yoga

Group exercise class offerings can be a key factor in the success of a corporate fitness center. If you don’t already offer group exercise classes in your wellness center, they may be the best motivation to get your employees to get on board with exercise.

Topics: corporate fitness program exercise group exercise muscle toning

Corporate Wellness: Spring into Shape with Calorie-Burning Sports

This blog was written by Kara Gootee. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

sports balls resized 600With spring around the corner, everyone is itching to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. After being cooped up all winter long and stuck on the treadmill, it’s time to change your workout and take it outdoors.

When considering your workout, why not take into account the activities you enjoyed as a kid? Here are five activities that will not only have you acting like a kid, but will also burn those calories!

  • Biking is not only easy on the joints, but is also a good way for the less active to get back into exercise. An hour-long leisurely bike ride can burn up to 290 calories while working the legs and glute muscles.
  • Softball leagues are getting ready to start, so grab your co-eds or create a corporate team and join a league! A one-hour game of softball will have you working your shoulders, back, arms, legs, and core while burning up to 360 calories.
  • Tennis works your back muscles, shoulders, arms, legs, and core while increasing your cardiovascular endurance. A one-hour doubles match can burn 300 calories, whereas playing singles can help you burn nearly 450 calories while covering the court!
  • Basketball is another great cardiovascular activity that will provide you with a full-body workout as your run up and down the court shooting your best jump shot. Grab your buddies for a pickup game to burn 420 calories during an hour-long game.
  • Volleyball is a great family and friends game that can burn up to 250 calories for an hour of recreational play. Volleyball is another great league activity. Grab your coworkers and join a league for some fun outside of work!

Look for events in your area in which you and your coworkers can take your skills to a friendly competition. The Indiana Sports Corporation puts on the Corporate Challenge in Indianapolis every year, encouraging 4,000 + employees of approximately 100 local companies to train for different events. Much like field days we had as kids in school, there are a variety of events that promote corporate wellness and encourage employees to obtain healthy lifestyles.

*All calories are estimated based on a 160-pound individual.

Topics: exercise corporate fitness weight loss muscle toning