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

Friendship Village Resident Praises the NIFS Fitness Program

IMG_1985NIFS has been partnering with Friendship Village Kalamazoo since 2015, when they opened their beautiful new Wellness Center. We recently heard an uplifting story from FV resident Kim Cummings regarding the impact the health and fitness program has had on his mobility and outlook on life.

Mr. Cummings has been an avid participant since joining the program in 2015, faithfully attending fitness classes two to three times a week and exercising in the Strength & Cardio Studio. NIFS Fitness Manager Alecia Dennis commented, “I love how Kim is always pushing himself to be better and stronger than yesterday. I am thankful that I am able to watch him flourish in all of his fitness endeavors. He truly is an inspiration to me and all of the residents here at Friendship Village!

We know the value our services bring to the residents and communities we serve, but it never gets old (ever) hearing directly from residents like Kim about their journey. Here is Kim’s inspiring story.

I came to Friendship Village regretting my ongoing dependence on a walker and lacking confidence in the Village’s fitness program. After eight months of our actual experience here, my perceptions radically changed. Having become a regular user of the fitness machines, now attending stretch and strength group classes two or three times a week, and now regularly walking our dog on the paved pathways surrounding the Village and its nearby woods, I’ve actually been able to ditch my walker and, though slowly, feel myself gaining additional strength.
I’ve also come to recognize the fitness program’s social function. The group classes, led by our zesty fitness manager, connect me with an ever-larger group of exercisers. None of us is terribly fit, but we all feel good about marching and stretching and pulling together. We just like coming together, grabbing our weights, finding a chair, and chatting with our neighbors. Likewise, when working out on the fitness machines, I find myself connecting with the individual exercising beside me. The machines are fun to work out on—they give one a sense of accomplishment and progress, but they also provide a great opportunity to introduce oneself to others.
A lover of the outdoors, I’ve also come to appreciate the Village’s accessible and attractive walking paths. I’ve particularly enjoyed my recent walks in the Village Woods (where, even in the winter, the paths are kept clear). I love getting to know the many different plantings and benches dedicated to past residents and to see the ongoing work of the Woods volunteers. Last week I spied a flock of migrating robins passing through the Woods and feasting on the crabapples planted along the side. Walking in the Woods reconnects me with nature and with the rich collective heritage of this Village community.
Freed from my walker and gaining strength, I feel that the fitness program and other aspects of Village life have added to my independence, enabling me to get around more easily. At the same time, it helps me get socially connected with other residents and stay connected with nature. I couldn’t ask for more.
Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.
Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living fitness center nifs fitness center management testimonials senior wellness consulting

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

Avoid an Empty Corporate Fitness Center with These Ideas

B130001.jpgThere are a variety of reasons for you, as a business owner, to set up a corporate fitness center for your employees; employee recruitment and retention are certainly among them. Increasingly, access to some form of exercise at work is becoming an expectation. It’s also not unreasonable to build a corporate fitness center because you actually expect it will help your employees be more active, which can lead to a variety of individual health benefits and possibly some productivity and loyalty benefits for the business.

But establishing a corporate fitness center for your employees is not an “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon. After all, only about 15–17% of the U.S. population owns a gym membership. If you want your employees to have opportunities to exercise, dedicating some space on campus for exercise is a good first step, but it’s not the end of the story. Following is a checklist of steps you need to carefully consider to avoid an empty corporate fitness center and ensure your fitness center is set up for success, both for your business and for your employees.

Do you have the right collection of equipment and amenities in your fitness center?

I've seen corporate fitness centers that run the gamut from fairly bare-bones to spaces that would rival high-end clubs. Fancy matters much less than function. If you don't intend to provide expert staff in the space, you need to have equipment that your employees can use without instruction. Some of the newer functional training equipment isn't all that intuitive; be careful what you buy or only the most sophisticated exerciser will be able to put your equipment to effective use.

If you want to offer group fitness classes in your space, you'll need to have enough room to host the classes; consider 40–60SF per participant (don't forget to count the instructor!). Also keep in mind that your classes will increase volume in the fitness center and you'll want your locker room spaces to accommodate those peak-use times fairly well. With 28 years in the business, I can assure you that employees will stop coming if the locker room situation involves fighting for space.

Do you have the right leadership for the corporate fitness space/programs?

The single best way to maximize employee use of your corporate fitness center is to provide staff who manage the environment. Yes, there is a cost for that, but before you assume you don't want to pay it, consider the ramifications because here's how it plays out. Without staff to support and educate employees, the same 10% of your employees who exercise now are the ones who will use your fitness center. And the employees you're really trying to serve won't try something new in your corporate fitness space because they aren't sure what steps to take.

So committing to the fitness center space but not the fitness center staffing is building a gym for the employees who are exercising anyway. That's a pretty substantial investment for the employees who don't really stand to benefit from it.

Finding the right corporate fitness management partner doesn't have to be hard, and before you assume hiring out for that role is a horrible idea, check out this blog that addresses common misconceptions on outsourcing corporate fitness management. If you're still convinced your business is better off managing your fitness program in house, here are some suggestions for hiring your own corporate fitness manager.

Do you have a healthy culture that supports employees choosing to exercise during their time at work?

Employees spend more time commuting to and from work and actually at work than they spend anyplace else. Inviting them to exercise while they're already at the office may be our best hope for helping adults move more. But if taking a full 60-minute lunch break to work out is frowned upon by management, your corporate fitness center will stay mostly empty. If employees don't see their leadership making healthy choices a priority, your fitness center will remain a ghost town. It's not enough to have "break-time" policies written into your handbook. You have to lead by example and you have to make it okay for your management team to engage in the behaviors you want to see.

 Webinar Series: The Guide to Successful Corporate Fitness Centers

Topics: corporate fitness corporate fitness managment health culture nifs fitness center management equipment staffing corporate fitness center

Why Hiring the Right Trainer for Your Senior Fitness Program Is Vital

Let’s face it, personal trainers are pretty ubiquitous these days, and it’s easy to understand why. The industry doesn’t have licensure (yet), and there are a lot of inexpensive and easy-to-obtain “personal trainer” certifications available that allow fitness enthusiasts with little knowledge about how the body works to earn a distinction as a personal trainer.

The scary truth about hiring a personal trainer for your senior living community is that the typical consumer doesn’t necessarily know what to look for in a qualified fitness professional. Unfortunately, the I-paid-them-and-they-certified-me individual looks equally competent alongside the individual who has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and who has earned and painstakingly maintains an industry gold-standard certification.

While hiring an exercise professional for your senior living community fitness program is a very buyer-beware proposition, the rewards for making the right staffing choice can be great.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to the residents.

MMFC1.jpgThis is really what it’s all about, right? You want a passionate, capable, competent, self-starter running the exercise program in the community. You need someone who will

  • Coordinate the group exercise program (the fitness specialist should be teaching at least some of the classes).
  • Initiate and execute on health-related programming both in the fitness area as well as in partnership with other departments in the community.
  • Promote and provide important services like exercise prescriptions (writing individual exercise programs for residents) and senior fitness testing, as well as follow up with residents to offer updated exercise programs and repeat testing as appropriate.
  • Track participation by individuals and reach out to nonactive residents to invite them into programs.
  • Manage the fitness space, including ensuring amenities are well stocked and equipment is in good working order.
  • If your personal trainer isn’t doing these things for you, it’s worth spending some time to re-envision what’s possible in your exercise program. Your residents deserve regular access to diverse classes that respect and challenge them physically. They will participate more if a fitness professional is available to customize exercise plans for them and to help them evaluate their progress along the way. And having a point person who is tracking the participation data and is constantly innovating will draw in more residents who wouldn’t engage without a personal invitation.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to your business.

This is a tough one. Community leadership seems to have a difficult time making the leap from status-quo group fitness classes and the occasional trainer to establishing a manager for a robust fitness program. Maybe that’s consumer driven, and today’s residents, for the most part, aren’t balking at the outdated model. Maybe the lack of change is rooted in where fitness falls on the priority list.

Yet, with the right fitness center manager on board, you can free up your activities director to actually create person- and purpose-centered activities instead of tracking down a substitute for the group fitness instructor who just bailed on a class. You also send a distinct message to prospects and current residents that healthy living is central to who you are. And because so many communities are still operating on the outdated “group fitness + occasional trainer” model, you clearly distinguish your senior living community from the competition.

If you’re ready to start tapping into these benefits, you can either hire your own fitness center manager for the community, or partner with an organization like ours (NIFS fitness center management) to start improving the fitness program for your residents.

 Senior Fitness

 

Topics: CCRC senior living nifs fitness management staffing senior fitness personal trainers nifs fitness center management

Senior Living: Fitness Center Design for Current and Future Residents

father_daughterSeveral months ago, my parents were prospects in the market to relocate to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) from their 4.5-acre home of almost 20 years. There were a variety of reasons for them making this move consideration, but age and ill health weren’t on that list. 

My parents (at the time of writing) are both 72 years old and in quite good health. My mom walks up to an hour with friends most days of the week; she’s done that for as long as I can remember. My dad is an avid exerciser and he’s the reason I’m a runner today. He gets significant cardiovascular exercise for more than an hour four to five days per week, along with rigorous strength training at least three days per week in his home gym. They are both very active in their community and in the extensive gardens and rich woods on their property.

They aren’t frail, and they don’t fit into the more typical average age of 80+ in most CCRCs. 

Checking Out a Community with My Parents

So when they started shopping and had narrowed down their list to a primary community that held their interest, they asked my family to join them for a tour. We walked through the community center building and got a great look into the typical areas including the bistro, the formal dining room, the library, the craft areas, and the fitness areas. 

After we left the community, and 100% without my prompting, my dad asked me why their fitness center had “all of that strength equipment for old people” in it. Those were his words, not mine. This comes from a man who has never belonged to a gym, who has exercised in his basement with modest equipment for decades, and who doesn’t bear an ounce of pretension. Yet he very quickly identified the “old people” equipment in his community’s fitness center.

Senior living community operators are in a tight spot when they try to cater to current residents but build space, programming, and services that they hope will appeal to future residents. The fitness center tour and post-tour discussion with my dad is no exception, and it’s exactly the reason that any operator engaging in a fitness center build—whether as part of brand new construction or as a positioning project—needs to thoughtfully and carefully establish their fitness center layout.

Design of the space and the equipment you select matters. Both elements can profoundly impact the residents’ experience in the space. And when your community is continually battling someday syndrome as a barrier to getting prospects to make the move, how you outfit the fitness center can also be a factor.

CCRC Fitness Center Equipment and Design Considerations

Here are a few things to think about with respect to senior living fitness center design and equipment that engages current residents and attracts future prospects: 

  • Create your group fitness studio and your fitness center as distinctly separate spaces. We see a lot of first-draft designs come with an accordion or partition wall between the two rooms. There is no actual utility for that design; and in fact, it may limit how both rooms can be used. 
  • Build size for the future. If your community is poised for a phase two or three that adds residential units and creates more potential fitness center members, build the initial fitness spaces for growth. 
  • Lay out the equipment with accessibility in mind. Put the equipment most likely to be used by your most frail residents nearest to your main entrance so that it is easy to access. 
  • Create clear sight lines for the fitness management staff. Design the spaces so that staff will have the greatest visibility possible for all areas. Part of the reason for having staff managing your fitness program is for participant safety. It’s tough to keep people safe when you can’t see them exercising.
  • Choose equipment that is built with an older adult in mind, but that doesn’t scream “old.” While there is currently a gap in the marketplace for a complete line of strength and cardio equipment well suited for this audience, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy beautiful and functional equipment that will work well both now and in the future. Contact me to get an operator’s perspective on the equipment that’s available

No doubt you have a lot to consider with a fitness center design project. If you’re a visual learner like me, you might get some inspiration from looking at a few of the projects we’ve been privileged to support.

Click on the button below to download a sample of our work!

Fitness Center Design

Topics: CCRC senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior living communities fitness center for seniors nifs fitness center management senior wellness consulting

How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Resident Wellness Program

In this blog, I want to run through a handful of questions that often come up when I have an initial call with a possible client who is interested in doing wellness better at their senior living community. But before I get too far into that information, I thought I should start by offering my definition of wellness so that we’re all on the same page for that terminology. 

When I say wellness, I’m talking about multidimensional, active programming that can span the continuum and that fosters maximal participation throughout the community. It is not just fitness, or activities, or dining, or chaplain-based services, and it certainly isn’t clinic-based or born from a healthcare model. Wellness incorporates a very broad range of program and event types, and it’s built to provide purpose for the participant.

The other element to defining wellness that might be confusing is the distinction I make between wellness and activities. It is my opinion that building a true resident wellness program requires more than simply renaming your traditional activities program. You’ll need to consider existing personnel in your community and whether/how they can collaborate for improved offerings under a different strategy. You will also need to formulate a plan around changing how programs are developed, executed, and evaluated. 

So with that context established, let’s get on to the questions and answers that you can use to benchmark where you are now with resident wellness and how to do wellness better. 

Do you have dedicated staff who plan and execute a variety of activities for residents in the community?

In many communities, it’s common to hear that there is a resident wellness program, when in reality there’s an activities program, a fitness program, chaplain services, etc., all functioning in their own silos with limited collaboration. 

For your wellness program to truly be robust, you need to have a leader at the helm of program/event development. There are a lot of ways to do this; sometimes it’s the activity director who assumes this role; and in other cases, this position is given to the fitness coordinator or social worker. You want to make sure you’re tapping the right person who can effectively lead a team, who has strong capacity for strategic thinking and collaboration, and who has a better-than-high-school understanding of human health. 

Do you have dedicated fitness personnel who manage your exercise programming?

Even in 2015, the fitness “room” (if you will) still comes in all shapes and sizes. It is consistent to see some space dedicated to exercise equipment within most communities, and typically group exercise classes are held in other areas of the building. Pools are still very hit-or-miss in established senior living communities. 

Best-in-class services for your residents demand a dedicated fitness professional (or team, depending on the size of your community and the desired scope of services) who can manage the exercise program for your community. That individual should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field with strong expertise in prescribing exercise for seniors. He or she should also be quite skilled at teaching a variety of basic group exercise classes. And that fitness manager absolutely needs an outgoing, approachable personality to go along with the technical expertise.

In most cases, we see a hodgepodge of group fitness instructors and personal trainers floating in and out of the community to support exercise activities for residents. While this approach will allow you to have some staff support in your exercise room as well as maintain your class schedule, you are failing to build a strong service that includes 1:1 attention for the residents as well as community-wide programming and data that can inform how the exercise program should evolve. 

activeaagingWhat percentage of your community events/program are active (up, moving, interacting with others, learning, growing, doing) as compared to passive (sit-and-listen)?

Just because the residents are retired from their careers does not mean that they are retired from life. Providing opportunities for participants to learn new things, meet new people, discuss new concepts, and see new places builds a purpose-oriented lifestyle in your community. If more than 50% of your activities calendar includes routine programs like cards and sit-and-listen offerings, it’s time to take a fresh look at how you can build more person-centered offerings on a regular basis.

What percentage of your residents participate in the activities offered at your community?

In most cases, activities for senior living fall into the Pareto principle, where 20% of the residents are engaging in 80% of the activities. Often, we see this phenomenon in place because your activities and events planners have slipped into an order-taker role. Their ears are tuned to the vocal minority and they fill the calendar with ideas offered by the residents who are already participating. To get out of this order-taking mode and to start moving toward programming that attracts more than the same 20% who have been participating for years, you’ll have to try something different with your team and your expectations. This is where a strategic, multidisciplinary plan steps in.

How is programming developed and executed at your community?

When I talked about personnel in one of the earlier questions, I mentioned the individuals working in silos so that events happen independent of each other throughout the community. A more strategic approach to programming is warranted if communities are committed to engaging more residents in lifestyle on their campuses and appearing more attractive to hesitant consumers. This type of practice requires planning activities well in advance with input from a team of experts. It requires thinking that moves away from the one-and-done offerings and toward layered, multidimensional, inviting programs that have the members talking, connecting, participating, and learning. 

It also requires a thoughtful approach to gathering data for the programs. Each offering should be created with an intended purpose that is measurable. Program plans should be built with that goal in mind, and tactics designed to help achieve that goal should be identified. When the program is complete, the team should evaluate whether and how they achieved their goal, as well as identify what they learned in the process that can be used for more effective programming in the future.  

So, now that you’ve finished all the questions and answers, where does your community stand? If you’re ready to do wellness better, we have some tools that might be helpful. See the list below for those additional resources:

Not sure how to start evaluating your resident wellness program?  Contact us below.

Contact Us >

 

Topics: senior wellness programs corporate wellness staffing program planning nifs fitness center management

How to get employees moving with great wellness programs

logoOur staff has found that getting employees moving can be difficult.  It is very often that our members speak of a variety of barriers that prevent them from exercising.  We have all experienced hectic schedules that interfere such as work meetings and events, overtime, family events such as a child’s activities.  It’s our job to help our members find ways to fit it in to their schedule, make time for themselves to live a healthier lifestyle.   Be Active Be Fit is a program that was developed to encourage participants to strive for 150 minutes of physical activity a week for 8 weeks.  Participants are encouraged to count any time they are doing physical activity no matter what the activity.  Whether you prefer to bike or run, maybe you walk or swim, right down to mowing the yard and cleaning the house with reasonable effort can count. 

This program was implemented at a couple different client locations earlier this year.  One staff member implemented an intranet site to better reach employees who don’t visit the fitness center to allow them to participate.  Sixty percent of participants surveyed post program stated that they liked being able to view the program online.   Also implemented were weekly challenges to encourage members to strive to try new things.  This staff member provided educational pieces to help his members better understand portion sizes and caloric intake.  One challenge educated participants on how to establish their estimated target heart rate, 34% indicated this was something they learned due to the program.

The simplicity of implementing and participating in this program really helped with its success.   Members entered their weekly minutes via a survey where the staff could export the weekly results for quick access to the program data.  This program successfully encouraged people to be more active with 55% indicating that Be Active Be Fit helped motivate them to continue with their program. 

Consider these simple steps when implementing a wellness program similar to NIFS Be Active Be Fit:

  • Establish a goal – what are you wanting members to achieve and how do you plan to reach your goal?  Establish what you want to achieve and outline what you can do to best implement and achieve the results you are hoping for.
  • Educate participants – use this opportunity to educate your employees about health and wellness.  Establishing an educational component further delivers the message you are trying to deliver about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Promote and encourage – make sure you are spreading the word about the program.  Use all of your resources to best introduce the program and increase awareness.  Incorporating weekly reminders help keep them going and improve the success rate of the program.
  • Evaluate the program – survey your participants post program.  This will help you better understand the needs of your members as well as better understanding success rate of your program. 

Interested in other ways we engage our clients with great programming?  Subscribe to our Best Practice Series and receive 10 other Best Practices established in NIFS Corporate Fitness Management.

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: nifs best practices nifs fitness center management

Why Nobody's Using Your New Resident Fitness Center (Part 1 of 3)

empty fitness centerFrom the wellness consulting and fitness management work we’ve done with our clients over the last several years, we’ve seen our share of essentially empty fitness centers and pools in senior living communities.

It’s sad.

So often, community leadership invests substantial capital dollars for dedicated fitness spaces including rooms that hold the exercise equipment, rooms devoted to group exercise classes, and additional (and typically significant) spaces for aquatics amenities. The result after construction is that the spaces are beautiful—even stunning.

But these same swanky spaces, unfortunately, often aren’t functional. Sometimes they contain the wrong equipment or a dysfunctional design. Most commonly, the biggest roadblock to a thriving fitness program is that these spaces weren’t considered under any type of strategic plan, so programming of the space is largely ineffective for the residents and typically disjointed from the rest of the community.

The result is a beautiful new space that sits unused.

If you’re wondering why you poured so much money into this non-revenue generating space that appears to provide no additional benefit to the residents, or how to avoid this phenomenon, stick with me on this blog series, where I’ll write about the following:

  • Your capital investment isn’t the end of your commitment.
  • Your residents need quality leadership in order to engage in the fitness services.
  • Your marketing and sales team may be missing the mark when selling fitness to residents.

Part 1: Your Capital Investment Isn’t the End of Your Commitment

It’s a big deal: You spent a lot of time with your developers on crafting a new space (or overhauling an existing one) that will match your community’s appearance, and that you hope will be a welcome addition (or change) for your residents. It’s not cheap, either, but you’ve done your due diligence, secured the funds, and designed the heck out of the space(s).

The capital investment may be so substantial that it feels like enough.

Alas, your time and your money are, in fact, not enough. There are important details to consider regarding the design of the space—details that can make or break the overall function of the amenities. Read our blog on key things to avoid when you’re building a fitness center in senior living to find out more about common pitfalls when designing a new fitness space for senior living.

But you can’t stop with the physical space. This isn’t an “if you build it, they will come” type of project. You will need to cultivate a strategic plan for effective use of the space after it’s open for use.

Maybe that strategy is the job of the activities director.

Or maybe…the community needs a whole new approach to resident wellness that puts a wellness director at the top of the activities food chain. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Wellness is a way of life, not an activity, and it should be cultivated accordingly. Do the activities drive the wellness program in your community, or does the wellness culture dictate the activities? Answering that question according to the organization you are striving to be will help you figure out the hierarchy question.

Regardless of who is in charge of it, the strategy for effective use of the fitness center is really central to ensuring that this new space contributes positively to residents’ vitality. Questions for cultivating the strategy should include the following:

  • What is the goal, mission statement, or focus of wellness in the community, and in what ways do you expect that your fitness program will contribute to that end?
  • What investment needs to be made in staffing for the fitness center? (The answer to this question varies by community, but I can just about guarantee you that fee-based personal trainers and group fitness instructors are not enough.)
  • How will you know you’re achieving success in your programs? Will you mark it with simple participation goals, or will you be reviewing health outcomes, satisfaction, or other outcomes in your programming?
  • If you’re changing your activities/wellness hierarchy, how will you communicate those changes to the community and how will you reinforce your emphasis on this culture shift? Will that information need to be communicated to the residents? If so, how will you do that?
  • What operating decisions need to be scrutinized in light of your new emphasis on resident wellness? Does it make sense for your organization to make this strategic shift by including wellness for your employees at the same time?

To be sure, these questions, when thoughtfully addressed, will likely lead to more questions. Be patient; cultivating a strategy takes time and often requires continuous tweaking. It is a journey well worth taking, both for the benefit of your business and for fulfilling you commitment to facilitate a vibrant lifestyle for your residents.

In part 2 of this blog series, I’ll write about the importance of the right leadership in your fitness program. Make sure you have subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a beat on this series and other hot topics we’re covering.

Subscribe to NIFS blog

Topics: senior center solutions senior fitness management CCRC fitness center engagement senior living community marketing fitness center for seniors nifs fitness center management