Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Liven Up Your Senior Living Community Fitness Center

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

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

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

Moving the Fitness Center out of the Basement

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

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

Liven Up Your Fitness Space

Consider these three tips to liven up any fitness space.

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

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

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

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

Help Clients Overcome 3 Common Misconceptions About Exercise and Aging

It’s well known that being physically active, especially as we age, yields many physical benefits. Examples include decreasing risk factors for chronic diseases, and preserving many aspects of physiological functions, such as cardiovascular function, muscle strength and endurance, as well as balance and flexibility.

In addition to the many physical benefits that you can gain from regular exercise, there are also many psychological benefits. Some of the benefits associated with regular exercise consist of (but are not limited to) improved quality of life and cognitive functioning.

As a fitness instructor I am constantly hearing reasons why individuals feel as though it makes no sense for them to exercise. One example I have heard recently is “I’m 85 years old. What good could taking part in regular exercise do for me? I am too old for there to even be changes made to my strength or balance.” (Hint: This isn’t true!)

Following are three common “excuses” or misconceptions regarding regular exercise that I hear frequently from older adults, and how you can address these concerns.

GettyImages-929610028 (1)I’m Too Old

You might hear: I’m too old to start exercising; its too late to make a difference in my health; it isn’t safe; I don’t want to fall and break a hip; I’m going to get old anyway

To be honest, no one is ever “too old” to start a regular exercise regimen. Many older adults are not aware that regular physical activity has been shown to be beneficial to individuals of all ages, even those well into their 80s, 90s, or older. Besides, inactivity is often associated with the common signs of aging. Older adults often have a fear of falling, especially if they have experienced falls in the past. Thus, these individuals think they are safer or rather better off if they remain sedentary. However, what these older adults don’t realize is that regular exercise is going to help them build strength and stamina, prevent the loss of bone mass, and allow the individual to improve their balance.

How to address this: In addition to discussing how certain exercises are beneficial to oneself especially as we age, instructors should also go over ways to make exercises less scary and thus safer.

I’m Too Busy

You might hear: I’m too busy to exercise; I don’t have time

Many people of all ages don’t realize that exercise does not need to take place at any specific location or at any specific time. Really, exercise is one of those things that shouldn’t be made more complicated than it has to be, and can be made to fit into your daily schedule. Exercises can even be performed in smaller bouts of 10–15 minutes that are repeated a couple times throughout the day, or even simpler exercises that can be connected to certain parts of their routine. Older adults might find exercise to be easier once it is part of a routine.

How to address this: Fitness instructors should guide these older adults on how they can add simple exercises to their daily routines. One example could be practicing a single-legged stance while waiting for their morning coffee to brew.

It’s Too Boring

You might hear: Exercise is boring; exercise is not enjoyable

Most individuals today seem to dread working out and look at it as something that just needs to get done to check it off the to-do list. People often associate exercise with repetitive movements that may be viewed as boring. However, there are a lot of different ways for older adults to make fitness an enjoyable part of their everyday life.

For example, they could take up a sport (such as golf, hiking, or swimming), take a walk with a friend, play with grandchildren, work in the garden, or even take a group fitness class. The key is to at least keep the body in motion, because some movement versus no movement can still be beneficial to their health.

How to address this: Fitness instructors can easily inspire older adults to look at some alternatives that they haven’t considered before but would likely find enjoyable. Instructors can also add components to group fitness classes to make them seem more fun and enjoyable, and less like exercise.

***

The next time you hear one of these excuses from an older fitness client, you’ll know how to encourage them to overcome the misconception and keep moving.

DOWNLOAD: Importance of Exercise for Seniors >

Topics: balance senior fitness group fitness exercise and aging why older adults don't exercise

Does Your Carpet Keep Tripping You? Work on Ankle Mobility!

GettyImages-185211535 (1) Ankle MobilityTell me if this has ever happened to you: You are fast asleep in your warm, comfy bed. In the middle of that perfect sleep, you suddenly hear the telephone ringing. So you open your eyes, sit up, and slide your feet into your slippers. At this point, you are in a rush because you are now thinking that it could be an emergency. You take a few steps as quickly as you can to get to the phone, which happens to be all the way across the room. Suddenly, the front of your slipper nicks the carpet and you feel yourself going down and fast.

You reach for something to grab but find nothing to get ahold of, so you throw out your hands to try to stop yourself from hitting the floor too hard. Now you’re lying on the carpet in pain because your hands and arms hurt as well as anywhere else you may have hit your body on the way down.

Why Does the Carpet Hate You?

You then remember how the carpet used to be your friend at a very young age. You recall how you used to love the carpet so deeply that you would fall asleep on it at times. As you got older, the friendship seemed to fizzle out. Over the last few years, it seems as though your old friend has it out for you because every time you come across it, it takes you down—and down hard!

Fear not. There could be a much simpler solution to this problem than avoiding all carpet everywhere. Maybe the problem has more to do with your ankle mobility.

Ankle Mobility Exercises

Following are a few examples of exercises that you can do to improve your ankle mobility.

  • Seated heel raises: Sit at the edge of a chair and place both feet on the ground with both knees at a 90-degree angle. While keeping your toes on the ground, raise your heels up for a count of 2 and down for a count of 2. Try doing 2 sets of 20 repetitions with both feet. You can challenge yourself by holding a weight or a heavy book on your knees for added resistance.
  • Seated toe raises: Sit at the edge of a chair and place both feet on the ground with both knees at a 90-degree angle. While your heels stay on the ground, raise your toes up for a count of 2 and down for a count of 2. Try doing 2 sets of 20 repetitions with both feet.
  • Seated ankle stretches: Sitting on a chair, raise one leg so that your foot is no longer in contact with the ground. Point your toes up and down. Try to do this stretch without kicking your leg up and down. Try doing 2 sets of 30 seconds with both feet.
  • Seated ankle circles: Sitting in a chair, raise one leg, lifting the foot from the ground. While your leg is raised, move your foot around in circles. Try to do it without moving the entire leg. You really want to focus on only moving the foot. Try doing 2 sets of 30 seconds in both directions with both feet.

Moving Forward

Click here to get more information and images of exercises that you can do to improve your foot or ankle mobility. And click here to learn a little more about mobility and stability.

Let us know how your next encounter with that dreadful carpet went by commenting below.

NIFS Fitness Management's programming can also help residents improve their balance with regular exercise.  Check out how Balance Redefined is changing residents lives!

Download Now

Topics: senior fitness injury prevention mobility exercises stability

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

Senior Living: How to create a win when your programs and events flounder

Programs and events don't always turn out like we plan. Sometimes we misjudge interest, and sometimes we misjudge the timing or venue. In other cases, the program is well done, but we don't meet our goals because we didn't set the right target to begin with. We're managing close to 30 client fitness programs in senior living communities, so we're bound to miss the mark on a program here and there. What's important to me is that we learn from our missteps so that the next time we offer an initiative, it's a more complete program.

If you're looking for ways to continuously improve what you're offering to residents, check out our insights on a few programs below. For more on our process of goal setting and evaluating the programs we run, check out this blog.

Membership Drive Month

Membership Drive Flier

The Program and Goals:

Last April, Tim hosted a membership campaign to attract residents who were not members of the fitness center to join. Goals for the initiative were simple, as was the overall structure of the program. 

  • Gain five new members during April
  • Inspire each new member to attend at least one group fitness class during April

The fitness program at this client community is well-established with about 67% of the eligible residents already members of the fitness center. They regularly gain about five to six new members each month, so the focus of this program was a targeted outreach to long-standing residents who had not yet joined the fitness center. Tim believed that if he could get them in the door for orientation by lowering the barriers to joining AND inspire them to attend at least one group fitness class during the month they joined, those new members might be more active/engaged in the long run.

Tim set up "open orientations" for the month to create easier opportunities for non-members to attend. Despite issuing personal membership packet invitations to each of these residents, no one attended those orientation sessions, nor were any of the membership packets returned. While they did pick up five new members in the month, they all came from a pool of newer residents who had moved to the community recently. And of those five who joined, only one attended a class during April.

What we learned:

Sending invitations by community mail to non-members didn't generate a response, so future membership programs need to enlist a different outreach approach at this community. It is worth noting that we had a strong positive response to this very approach at a different client community. So if you operate multiple venues, you may need to adjust your approach per location.

2018 Winter Olympics

The Program and Goals: 

To capitalize on the winter games, Alyssa ran her own version of the Olympics for the residents in her Minnesota community. Her goals were tied directly back to fitness center membership and participation:

  • Increase the number of total visit to 1,500 in February 2018 (the previous year, February visits had reached 1,125)
  • Increase by 10% the number of members who reach the 5+ or 8+ visit per month categories
  • Gain three new members during February 2018

Alyssa was able to achieve the total visits goal (1,705 visits in February 2018) and the membership goal (5 new members gained in February 2018). But she didn't reach the goal focused on frequent visitors (5+ or 8+ visits per month).

What we learned:

While Alyssa was quite successful at using her Olympics program to get a lot of people to use the fitness center, many of the elements of the program did not promote repeat visits. Additionally, many of the events occurred outside of the fitness center. (Click here to read Alyssa's reflection on teaching the residents new skills during her Olympics program.)

She received positive survey feedback from participants.

  • 95% rated the program as excellent
  • 75% noted the program was extremely well organized
  • 85% said the program exceeded their expectations

In reality, the program itself was strong. But the goal focused on increasing frequent fitness center visits was probably the wrong aim. Future offerings like this that aren't specifically targeted to draw members into the fitness center will be created with different program goals in mind.

Want to find out more about how NIFS can provide this kind of smart, strategic programming to your residents? 

How Outsourcing fitness center management can work for your community

Topics: senior fitness management senior fitness senior living fitness center outsourcing fitness managment fitness for seniors

What's Missing From Your Resident Fitness Program and How To Fix It

NIFS | Senior Group Fitness

I hear from a lot of leadership in senior living communities who know that there's more that could be done with their resident exercise program, but they aren't sure how to get their staff to ramp things up. If you find yourself in this situation, check out the list below for common challenges and opportunities to do better for your residents.

Our participation is lower than it should be.

There are a few reasons that participation in your fitness program might run lower than it should.  The first thing to determine is whether you have reliable data about who is participating. When we  start working with a community, we often learn that they may have total (or estimated) counts for group fitness class participation and that's the end of their program data.  

  • Start by tracking participation per resident. You'll have more reliable information about who is participating, how frequently they attend, and what they participate in. You'll also gain knowledge about who isn't coming to the fitness center and/or classes.
  • If your staff can deliver on individual services for residents, add fitness and balance testing along with exercise prescriptions to provide residents who aren't participating with the support they need to feel safe and inspired to begin an exercise program.

[Read More: 4 Strategies to Engage More Residents in Your Exercise Program]

Our group fitness class calendar needs a do-over.

It's common for the group fitness class calendar to get set on autopilot without critical evaluation of what needs to be updated.

  • Start by using the participation data to figure out which classes really deserve a spot on your calendar.
  • The balance classes our staff teach in our client communities are by far the most popular format. If you don't have dedicated balance training classes on the calendar, add them now. It's not enough to have balance training mixed in with a strength class or another blended format.
  • Carefully consider class descriptions; how you word group fitness opportunities for residents can make a big difference in what resonates with a previously inactive audience.

We need to be offering more fun programs.

Creating fun and inspiring programs to invite more participation in the fitness center is one of the best parts of the job! It's really central to how our staff are supporting residents in the client fitness centers we manage. Consider that engaging programs should be more than just fun; they should be built strategically to meet a specific goal. For example, NIFS Fitness Freeze program was a solid solution to combat the traditional fitness center visit decline we see in December each year. Or, think more holistically about Active Aging Week and use National Senior Health and Fitness Day to offer non-traditional options for physical activity.

***

If you're committed to keeping your fitness staff in house, then they need some support to start improving what they're offering your residents. Our eBook on how to turn your fitness center from vacant to vibrant is a great next step.

Take your fitness center from vacant to vibrant >

Topics: senior wellness programs senior fitness group fitness for seniors fitness for seniors

A Warning About Wellness Data in Senior Living & How We Can Do Better

NIFS | senior living wellness Special thanks to Sara Kyle as a co-author for this piece.  You can read more about her experience in senior living here.

Over the last several months, the senior living industry has seen more published data on wellness offerings. A few examples include this report from Senior Housing News (SHN), and the 2017 ICAA/Promatura Wellness Benchmarks report. I'm thrilled that organizations are taking a stronger and more consistent approach to measuring the impact of wellness for older adults in senior living. We can all benefit by being more informed; but I want to suggest a few cautionary notes about the data. 

As you read the reports, articles, and posts, it's easy to get swept up in the headlines and colorful images. Instant validation seems logical when the numbers back up our own experiences. But just beneath those captivating soundbites are sample size issues, a lack of consistent definition of terms and problematic comparisons between a study population and real world groups. We've seen these research challenges for years in corporate wellness (check out this blog for a consistent digest of how the corporate wellness industry has routinely gotten it wrong). I'd hate to see senior living go down that same path.  

Here are a few examples from the above noted reports that spark additional questions when you dig a little more deeply into the numbers:

Who makes up the sample and how many of them are there?

In the SHN report, authors note that 308 adults age 65 and older were polled using a Google survey. We lack key information about these 308 respondents. For example, we don't know if those surveyed are employed, if they're community-dwelling, if they have health issues, if they're living with government assistance, what their faith background is, etc. And while 308 respondents seems like a significant contribution, it may/may not be enough to declare data from that sample to be statistically significant. These missing elements don't mean the survey findings are unimportant, but it does mean we need to take a measured approach to digesting what's offered.

We also need to ensure that study limitations (like sample size) are included in the write up because those limitations impact how we process the information for validity, reliability, and transferability into other populations. Limitations don't necessarily render the research incorrect or useless, but they do provide important context for the findings as well as how we might move forward to study a similar topic.

What do we mean by engagement?

It's common to see terms like engagement and participation when reviewing data related to wellness in senior living, but those terms often aren't clearly defined. In one case, I found (after some digging and discussion with the publishing organization) that participation was defined as residents choosing at least one activity per month. When NIFS staff report to communities about participation rates in the fitness program, we're providing data on resident who visit 1x, 5x, and 8x per month. It's easy to see how a lack of standard definition for participation could skew a comparison between the two different data sets. 

You might think participation is fairly cut and dry. And I suppose if our single focus is measuring the number of behinds in the seats, then participation is clear. But, we also know that headcounts don't always mean the individuals are involved in the activity. I would argue that sleeping through a stretching class requires a very generous view of participation to assume that the resident received the intended benefit from the class. And that's where engagement comes in; it's definitely a moving target. It's highly subjective and very individual. But the individual who is engaged in the stretching class is moving his body, making eye contact with the instructor, and is responsive to feedback or changes in the activity. While some people use engagement and participation synonymously, they are not the same thing. 

Is selection-bias an issue?

It might be. Here are a few ways I saw it play out in the two reports I've mentioned:

  • The ICAA notes that 89% of older adults living in Life Plan communities who are tracked through their bench marking tool, self-rate their health as good or excellent while only 68% of age-matched older adults who are non-community dwelling, rate themselves the same. That's a huge boon for housing operators, but this data suffers from a self-selection bias where a variety of factors well beyond the community's control may contribute to the higher scores for residents and the lower scores for non-residents.
  • The SHN report profiles a fall prevention program where the program operators note the baseline data showed that 38% of residents in the community had suffered one or more falls.  One year following the implementation of their initiative targeted at reducing falls, they noted that the incidence rate had gone down 10%. What wasn't noted in the report was a listing of potential reasons for the decreased rate of falls that are completely unrelated to the initiative such as variations in the pre and post-sample, and the increased likelihood for residents to not report falls (particularly when they know they're being watched for falls). The program providers indicate that they've saved the community $500,000 with this fall prevention initiative, but that savings would indicate that we can assign value to that which we prevented. I'm not aware of a concrete way to value prevention; it's one of the great shortcomings of preventive health strategies.

How can we do better?

While there are some holes in the data that has been coming out on wellness in senior living, I think the research should continue, and below are a few areas where we could all improve the quality of what we're releasing for the greater benefit of the residents we're serving.

  1. Let's ’s get industry clarity about how we define wellness because right now we see it as the “wellness gym”, the “wellness nurse”, the “wellness staff” who are really fitness center staff, the “resident wellness committee” who plans activities that may or may not be tied to purposeful living. Gaining a more clear and shared definition of what we mean when we say resident wellness gets us all started on the same page. 
  2. Let’s get clarity about how we define engagement and participation. To me, defining participation as 1x per month to seems kind of low, but if we’re going to agree to that baseline, then at least it's a starting point.
  3. Let's find value beyond hard numbers. The ICAA does a great job of profiling and recognizing fantastic programming provided by 3rd party providers as well as directly by housing operators. There are similarly interesting initiatives throughout the SHN report.  Continuing to share meaningful lifestyle offerings is a win for everyone.
  4. Let’s use data where it’s significant and less subjective. For example, one of the programs outlined in the SHN report showed where one operator demonstrated a 50% improvement on average for residents who did baseline fitness testing and repeat testing. In-between their testing periods, participants engaged in exercise prescribed for them by a trained fitness professional. This isn't a complicated initiative, our staff offer something similar in our client communities, and the data is hard to dispute.

When you're paying to download a report that promises reliable numbers, and meaningful information, it's okay to ask questions about what's being offered and whether it will translate to your environment. It's also okay to question the study design to better understand definitions inherent to the outcomes. 

We have a long way to go as an industry to tighten up research so that our evidence-based practices are better. Do you have other areas in senior living research or in wellness specifically where you think we can all do a little better? Comment below to keep the discussion going. 

Topics: senior fitness senior living community senior living wellness programs wellness for seniors older adult wellness

Should We Still Use BMI and Body Composition in Corporate Fitness?

GettyImages-844045822.jpgFor years, fitness professionals have been trained to use Body Mass Index (BMI) as a prescreening tool when individuals join a fitness program. It was part of the recommendations by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for evaluating health risks; tobacco use, cholesterol profile, and family history for cardiovascular disease were also part of that process. In 2015, the ACSM updated their guidelines, and guess what? No BMI screening was included.

(Find out more about the changes to exercise prescreening in this FAQ.)

Why Is BMI No Longer a Screening Tool?

The changes to the ACSM guidelines were positioned largely around decreasing barriers for individuals to start an exercise program. After years of research, what they found was that BMI was not a driver of cardiovascular events during exercise. Anecdotally, I can say from experience that I had a lot of (sometimes angry) individuals wanting to join the corporate fitness center who needed a medical release because their BMI was "too high" and they had one other risk factor, such as not knowing their cholesterol or current tobacco use. So for our staff and their members in corporate fitness environments across the country, I thought this was a positive change.

But it leaves me wondering if we should be looking at BMI at all. There's a lot of back and forth in the wellness community about the "value" of BMI. The screening tool was always meant to be a field test to determine appropriateness of weight for a given height. And truly, it's an easy measure to determine; there are BMI calculators all over the internet. But that may be the end of its utility as a screening tool. There are a lot of questions about how meaningful the information really is to either the individual being assessed or the practitioner with whom they're working.

If We Don't Use BMI, What Should We Use?

This is something of a loaded question and points to our cultural obsession with "healthy" body weight. Do we need to screen for fatness? What's the value in those figures? Certainly measuring percent body fat or circumference might provide more meaningful ways to track an individual's desire to lose weight. But there are caveats on providing that information, too. Our staff members are providing those measures as field tests in our clients' corporate fitness centers, and the accuracy can be questionable, particularly for body fat assessed by skinfold testing.

We have a responsibility in our clients' fitness center environments to help the members live well in the ways that are meaningful to each individual. That might mean helping someone work on gradual, healthy weight loss. It might also mean working with someone to help them learn to appreciate the difference between feeling good when they move their body and feeling bad when they step on the scale.

The goal for our staff is to help the members they serve improve their health in all the ways that are articulated. When tools like BMI are so limiting (and potentially harmful to the psyche), we have to take a hard look at whether those tools are helping us achieve that goal. With so many other fantastic programs in our books to help people move more, try new areas of healthy living, and even remember what it felt like to play at recess, I think we have just what we need to create positive, successful, healthy environments for our corporate and senior living clients.

Check out our creative and effective programming to help keep your members active.

Improve your programs >

Topics: weight loss BMI body composition senior fitness healthy living prescreening tools corporate fitness center risk factors

Running in retirement

It's more common than you think - folks well into their 70's and 80's still running for exercise. (I hope it's my story when I'm 80 years old!) Below are accounts from two resident who live in a community where NIFS provides fitness center management services. We were so impressed with these two residents, we asked to spotlight their stories:

Judy Carlson

She was born in New Jersey, but lived in Honolulu, Hawaii with her husband RJudy Carlson Marathon Quilt.jpguss, for almost 50 years before becoming a Timber Ridge resident. 

Throughout her running career (she started at age 35), she's competed in 42 marathons, all across Hawaii. Although she says she's run her last full marathon, she continues to run races and has a group of friends with whom she runs the Hawaii Pacific Health’s Women’s 10k every year. She has also picked up races local to Seattle and she plans to complete the Seattle Half Marathon this Thanksgiving weekend.

Judy loves running because it brings people together and creates a sense of community.

I used to meet with a running a group and it was nice because there was no age discrimination; you just show up and run, nobody cared how old you were.

She told us that despite all of her long distance running, she's never seriously trained; she's in it for the enjoyment.  You can see Judy pictured next to a quilt she made from some of the t-shirts she received during marathons she's completed.

Dan Anderson

Dan Anderson Marathon.jpgShortly after Dan graduated from MIT, he married the love of his life, Portia, and they moved to Southern California where he began taking classes at USC and started work at the Hughes Research Laboratory.  He's had quite a career - not only did he play a large role in the development of the modern day laser, he later went on to serve as the Chief Patent Counselor at Boeing. Now, at the age of 89, Dan resides with his wife Timber Ridge.

When Dan wasn't in school, developing lasers, or working through patent law, he was running.  He finished his first marathon, the Palos Verdes Marathon, at the age of 24, and he went on to run marathons in Boston, Tri Cities, Culver City, Northern California’s “Avenue of the Giants” (his favorite), Vancouver, Memphis, Austin, Los Angeles, Athens, among others.  

In his earlier years, Dan enjoyed training others using his 6x6 training method that helped his trainees go from walking to running a 10k at the end of six months. He trained his colleagues from Boeing, including the President of Boeing at the time.

All told, he completed 116 marathons.  He ran his last marathon at 80 years old, but he's not done running; he's led and participates in the running group at Timber Ridge.

Subscribe to our blog

Topics: fitness programs for seniors senior fitness older adult running

How to make the most out of your community fitness center

I talked with a lot of folks at the 2017 LeadingAge Expo last week about how they can make the most out of their senior living community fitness center. In case you and I didn't connect at that event, here are 3 tips on how to make the most out of your community fitness center programs.

water aerobics for seniors

Start with the staff

Upgrading what you're offering in your fitness program is a great way to stand out from the competition (if you do it well), but offering a trainer a few hours per week likely isn't enough to truly draw residents into the fitness program. 

If you have no staff - start there. Let's talk about how you can start providing expert staff in a cost effective manner with the greatest impact for your community.

If you have staff - evaluate how effective they are for your residents. There's a nuance here that's worth mentioning: how well-liked the staff are is not the same thing as how effective they are. Your residents deserve both an affable fitness team and effective, fun, engaging programs and services. So when you're thinking about how well your fitness staff are performing, start by addressing how well-received they are, but don't stop there. Ask how they spend their time in service to the residents and how are they measuring the success of the community fitness program. For example, are they providing services, like exercise prescriptions, equipment orientations, and assessments that help residents understand how to exercise safely while working positively toward their goals? Do you have data on how those services are used? 

[Read More: How NIFS managers spend their time in senior living fitness centers]
 

Consider the programming

Fitness programming in the community goes well beyond fee-based personal training and group fitness classes.  Many communities do robust programming exceptionally well.  If your struggling with ideas, here are a few blogs that spotlight NIFS work with our clients in this area:

As a leader in the community, you should be getting data about how effective the programming is, how many residents are participating, and what the fitness staff will do differently next time to achieve their goals.  If you aren't getting that kind of information from your program, it might be time to look at ways you can improve your program. 

Seek opportunities to improve

I talked with a number of community leaders who noted that they have fantastic staff in their fitness center and were thus certain that we wouldn't have services that would benefit their community. The truth is, there are always ways to do better; what we're really talking about here is whether there's an appetite to pursue improvement. 

If you don't want to turnover staff, but you recognize your fitness team is only as good as the silo they're in, consider bringing in a consultant to evaluate the programming. There are most likely areas where your program could improve. Bringing in a consultant with an extensive background in the field and blissful ignorance about your services is a great way to uncover those opportunities that aren't apparent to those who are working in that environment.  

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

Topics: fitness programs for seniors senior fitness resident wellness programs LeadingAge LeadingAge 2017 resident engagement senior living status quo