Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

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

seniors meetingYour marketing and sales team may be missing the mark when selling fitness to residents.

I started this blog series talking about the importance of following all the way through on your capital investment for your resident fitness program. In part two of the series, I covered some basics on the importance of quality leadership as central to your community’s exercise strategy.

In this third part of the series, we’ll look at how your marketing and sales team can better tap into your fitness program as a sales tool. After all, once you nail the strategy and the staffing for your program, it only makes sense to make sure your marketing team can communicate your updated and comprehensive services to prospective residents.

Promoting Senior Lifestyle Benefits in Marketing Collateral

How does your community talk about wellness to prospects? How do you promote resident lifestyle in your collateral? If you haven’t given much thought to this, it’s definitely time to start. You’d have to be under a pretty big rock to have missed the continued rise to prominence that wellness is making in senior living.

And it’s because of that elevated importance that breezing through or ignoring your resident wellness amenities and services is no longer an option. Skipping over wellness in your collateral and marketing events is a huge mistake.

Promoting the Senior Wellness Program Effectively During Facility Tours

When I consult with communities, it’s really (frighteningly) common to talk with the marketing and sales staff and learn that they’re offering something like this during a tour:

“Now we’re walking past our pool and coming up next will be our exercise room. We have personal trainers and a lot of different types of group fitness classes available for you to try all week long.”

It’s like running through a checklist of “stuff” you’re throwing at a prospect. Dining, check. Exercise, check. Crafts, check. No stories, nothing a prospect can sink her teeth into and really consider how her life would be if she had access to those opportunities.

Typically, when the tour sounds like that, there is also a lack of marketing collateral about wellness, and there generally aren’t events for prospects that communicate how your community helps residents live well.

Sometimes the glossing over is because of a lack of confidence about the community’s amenities or services. Here’s the thing: you do not have to offer jaw-droppingly beautiful amenities in order to execute well on a message of well-living at your community. But you do need to have solid services with the right staff people behind that programming in order to market the lifestyle at your community effectively.

The right people plus the right program gets you the right stories you need to help prospects relate to what it will be like to live in your community. And that’s what you ultimately want, right? Happy residents are the ones who feel connected, who engage in more living, and who contribute to their own lives and the lives of those around them through the opportunities you offer.

If you’re looking for a place to start on more effective communication and marketing opportunities around resident wellness, look no further than some simple numbers.

Data Matters, and Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Differently

There are a number of areas in your wellness program where you can gather data, and I’m a big advocate for data because it’s crucial to determining success as well as to telling the story about what wellness is at a community. You can make a big impact in marketing messaging simply by spotlighting how many residents participate in your fitness programming. But you can’t capitalize on that number or message if you don’t actually have the data.

Consider a resident story that might look something like this:

“At ABC Community, our residents believe that moving your body is one of many ways to live well. In fact, they’re such big believers that 83% of them participate in our fitness programs on a regular basis. When Mrs. Jones moved here in 2007, she wasn’t much for exercise. In fact, she’d never been to a class, or walked on a treadmill. But after she met with our fitness manager and had her personalized program created, she started moving and hasn’t stopped.” 

My hunch is that the pretend story I outlined would resonate with a lot of prospects who have never exercised, are a little afraid of it, and are entirely unsure how to get started. Unless you have a story to which the prospect can relate, the sales staff mentions “fitness center” and “trainer,” and the prospect automatically writes that off as a nice perk but one she’ll never use. And just like that, you’ve missed a chance to help the prospect see how living at your senior living community is not only different (she already knows that and it’s part of what’s keeping her from moving), but actually better than where she’s living now. Mrs. Jones—the resident in the testimonial—sounds like that prospect, probably looks like her, and she’s been able to live exceptionally well since she moved into your community. It’s compelling and reassuring, and it’s all backed by a wellness strategy that captures the data and the stories for use at the right times.

Now, getting that data and those stories is not rocket science, but it does require that you have the right personnel behind the wellness programming to facilitate a more strategic approach to resident lifestyle. You need health-oriented professionals (do not read that as “clinicians”) who have a head for numbers and a heart for people. If you need a refresher on the quality leadership part of this puzzle, return to part 2 in this series.

 

Whitepaper: Creating a Wellness Culture

 

Topics: senior center solutions senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center senior living community marketing senior living fitness center data wellness consulting

Why Nobody's Using Your New Resident Fitness Center (Part 2 of 3)

training seniors resized 600Your residents need quality leadership in order to engage in the fitness services.

There is a lot of movement in recent years for senior living communities to include expansive, thoughtfully designed fitness spaces in their new community development or refurbishment plans. Surveys have indicated that wellness is a priority for prospects, and we don’t really see that going away as the boomers look toward their next life and how they want to live that next chapter. (I know you’ve heard this a gajillion times, but they are coming, and no amount of burying your head in the sand will change that. Get ready or get out of the business of anticipating their needs and knocking their socks off.)

So if you read part 1 in this blog series, you read about how your investment in wellness cannot stop with capital dollars. In this section we’re focused on why your residents need quality leadership in order to engage in the fitness services.

What Quality Fitness Leadership Is Not

Let me start perhaps with a list of exclusion—a list of what quality leadership is not. It is not limited to a traditional 1990s model of group fitness classes and a very part-time, questionably qualified attendant. It is not a personal trainer service (fee-based or free). It is not a silo-style environment where fitness is an island operating independently of what’s happening with activities, or resident services, or dining or other continuums of the community.

If any of that sounds familiar, I have a bad news/good news message for you.

  • Bad news: You’re stuck in a decades-old model. It may be working for you, but it’s worth asking whether it’s truly delivering on your brand promise. I would submit to you, at the very least, that if you’re working within a dated model, you’re lacking the capacity to truly be forward thinking. If your fitness services were built to be really strategic and forward thinking, you wouldn’t still be partying like it’s 1999.
  • Good news: You have fantastic opportunities to do more for your residents through your fitness program.

Quality Fitness Leadership Includes Core Skills and Soft Skills

Quality fitness leadership for your residents isn’t rocket science, but it does require some core skills that are learned through an accredited university curriculum, as well as soft skills that articulate a true passion for serving the residents in your community.

No doubt, you have more than enough practice at ferreting out the soft skills piece; after all, finding people who want to make a career out of serving our elders is your business. But understanding the technical competencies required in a qualified fitness center manager for your senior living community may be a little trickier. And then once you’ve found that qualified individual, you need to be prepared to take a strategic approach to on-boarding them in your community, which includes preparing both existing staff and residents for the new personnel.

The Keys to Hiring the Right Fitness Center Manager

There are a few keys about hiring that I think are helpful to communities venturing out in this process on their own. I’ve listed them quite briefly here:

  • Make sure you get familiar with the candidate’s credentials. Carefully evaluate certifications they list; not all fitness certifications are created (or earned) equally.
  • Require the candidate to demonstrate the skills required for the job. If you need them to teach group exercise classes for your residents, have the candidate provide a demo. If you need someone who can administer a senior fitness test, talk through that testing with the candidate or host a mock test as part of the interview.
  • Ensure the candidate can program for your audience. Evaluate their capacity to create print materials that fit with your brand, as well as the skills to execute a program from start to finish.

I’m here to tell you that those capable and passionate professionals do exist. We’ve written extensively about how to hire and how to successfully onboard fitness and wellness professionals. If reading isn’t your thing, consider watching our webinar on building better wellness staff in our Build Vitality webinar series. To discuss in greater detail, drop me an email and we can take a closer look at what you need as well as options on how to get there. Subscribe to our blog now to make sure you can catch part 3 of this blog series: What marketing needs in order to really sell your new amenity to prospective residents.

Topics: senior center solutions senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center engagement senior living community senior living fitness center hiring tips

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

Two Key Things Your Wellness Program May Be Missing

staff working with residentAt NIFS, we work in both corporate and senior living settings supporting client wellness strategies. After having done that work in diverse environments for various audiences over the last 25 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about what really works when you’re trying to promote living well.

Below are two key elements your wellness program may be missing.

1: The People

We’ve hired hundreds of qualified wellness professionals to work with our many clients over the last two decades. And we’ve made some hiring mistakes. But we’ve learned from those situations and cultivated a more comprehensive interview and an effective onboarding process.

[Related Content: Tips for Hiring Your Own Fitness Professional]

Hire well and you’ll be well on your way to cultivating significant and meaningful opportunities for well-living for your employees or residents. If you don’t hire well for wellness, your strategy, programs, or initiatives are destined for mediocrity at best.

If you don’t know what skills and abilities you need for your wellness strategy, consider outsourcing your staffing to a partner. Let them be your expert so that you can spend your time and energy running your business.

2: The Program

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: wellness is not rocket science. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require strategic thinking and thoughtful planning. Wellness services should be part of a larger vision that is focused on creating engaging opportunities for well-living.

There is no shortage of valuable resources available for program ideas online. Join a few LinkedIn groups and you’ll soon begin to see engaging ideas and thoughtful discussion that can help take your programming to the next level. Or subscribe to our blog for digestable on-the-ground tips for wellness practitioners as well as high level strategy solutions for wellness leaders.

And let’s talk a little bit about data. How are you gathering it? What are you doing with the data you have? Burying your head in the sand on data is not an answer. I’ve written before on how to gather data that you can actually use in your wellness program. You really can’t afford to continue the work without making legitimate attempts to measure what you’re managing. Otherwise, how will you ever know if your efforts are making the desired impact?

Looking for Best Practice Ideas?

Since we’re all about sharing the love and getting best practices out there for you to run with, I am very excited to announce our upcoming Best Practice Series that will launch in February 2014. There are two tracks:

Why not jumpstart your creativity with a little something that's worked in a similar environment for a similar audience.  (Who doesn't want their job to be a little easier?!)  

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness program senior wellness programs senior fitness management corporate fitness managment corporate wellness staffing

Wellness in Senior Living: Kit vs. Culture

senior woman stretchingUnless you live under a really, really big rock, you have no doubt heard about the importance of robust wellness opportunities as central to a successful senior living community. There have been some fabulous profiles lately on organizations that are doing an amazing job of connecting their residents and others in the surrounding areas to opportunities to live well. Two recent examples highlighted by LeadingAge are these:

What strikes me about both of these offerings is that they are wellness initiatives. I don’t know that the communities packaged them that way, but in fact, they are a model of innovative wellness programming at its very best.

The other element I find compelling about these offerings is that they’re culturally driven. That is to say that this type of creativity can only come from an organization that believes that living well is truly central to its brand.

When your senior living communities investigate what’s possible under the umbrella of resident wellness, it’s important to consider what it is you truly want to build. Is wellbeing something that leadership wants to cultivate, explore, and weave into the very fabric of the community? Or is the community focus elsewhere for now, such that wellness is more of a task that needs to be crossed off the long list?

Looking for the Wellness Kit?

If wellness for your community is about crossing something off the to-do list, then you might be looking for a kit solution. There are organizations that can help you, when you buy into their model, to plant monthly wellness initiatives at your community. Your activities director can typically fold them into the monthly calendar, and you can begin to dip your toe into the wellness water to get a sense of how your residents will receive programming and activities built around traditional wellness pillars like nutrition, physical activity, and so on.

But that's not how we do it. We're not about the monthly theme, unless it's right for your residents, and we're not about the pre-packaged materials, unless they've proven their value.

Wellness Culture Means Cultivating a Lifestyle in Senior Living

At the end of the day, a wellness culture is where we need to be headed. When we adopt a healthy culture as the way of life we’re building for residents, then we start to grasp what’s really possible.

But here’s the thing: culture is person-driven, not program-driven. There are not enough programs in the world to build a culture. Wellness is a way of life, not an activity, and it should be cultivated accordingly. Here are a few considerations if you’re contemplating the challenging and rewarding work that is wellness culture building in a retirement community:

  • Determining a hierarchy: Building a wellness culture means giving consideration to hierarchy for wellness and activities (or leisure services, or life enrichment, or whatever your organization calls the events coordinator at your community). I would challenge you to think about whether activities actually rolls up under wellness instead of wellness being a branch of activities. If you buy into the idea that wellness is a way of life rather than an activity, then challenging the status quo that activities is at the top of the programmatic/community calendar food chain warrants significant thought.
  • Hiring a wellness director: Building a wellness culture requires a dedicated and competent professional blazing the trail. I’ve written about hiring a fitness professional for your community. The principles in that blog apply to hiring a wellness director as well.
  • Thinking progressively and strategically: Building a wellness culture means thinking differently about how you program, and it requires a commitment to moving beyond the bocce tournament you’ve always done. It also requires you to strategically think through what program data you need, and how you’ll use the data to inform your next culture-building steps.

Make no mistake, building a culture is no easy task and you don’t ever really arrive. You just keep learning, building, and growing. You keep evolving to meet and anticipate the needs of your audience. You keep striving for the experience of a life well lived, for breadth and depth of lifestyle choices that provide meaning for each individual.

If this sounds daunting, it is. The wellness kit idea is much simpler to understand and to execute. But the real richness lies in the proverbial road less traveled. Partner organizations, including ours, can help you map out a path to get started.

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

 

Topics: nifs fitness management senior center solutions senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center health culture fitness center for seniors

Benefits of Tracking Participation Data in Community Fitness Programs

senior living fitnessYou're senior living community is missing out on some important benefits if you don't have detailed data from your fitness program.  Read on to find out what you stand to gain by getting smarter about gathering and using data from resident participation in the fitness center and group exercise classes as well as evaluating resident participation in fitness center appointments and services.

Before we jump into benefits for the community, the fitness program, and the residents, we should note that the most common obstacle for communities digging into data is having a dedicated point person who can regularly support this effort on an ongoing basis.  While tracking this data is not rocket science, it has to become part of the fabric of your fitness program in order to be effective.  Certainly, a full system for this type of effort is part of what we bring to the clients we serve.   

[Related Content: Find out more about NIFS Staffing Services]

Benefits to the Community

Although it can be a challenge to determine the return on investment your fitness program is lending to your community, regularly tracking participation levels and establishing target goals for the program can provide solid stories that your marketing department can use to attract prospects. As you embark on setting up a data collections system with your fitness center staff, pull in your marketing team to find out what they think might be most helpful for their campaigns to reach out to prospective residents.  

For example, marketing can share with prospects and their families that XX% of the resident population are active participants in the fitness program or that XX number of residents regularly attend your community balance class. This hard data puts a backbone behind the legitimacy of your program for marketing to work with beyond the more common and generic messaging like this: “We have a lot of residents who come to our fitness center and balance class is their favorite!”

[Related Content: See what one of our Annual Reports looks like for a NIFS client]

Benefits for Fitness Staff

Ready…aim…fire! Without regular participation data to evaluate when deciding on your next fitness program, you may as well step up to pull the trigger and go straight from “ready” to “fire” without an opportunity to aim. The aim should involve looking at ebbs and flows in visits to the fitness center or participation levels in classes and creating targeted programs to increase the number and frequency of participants. Without the opportunity to aim, it will be more difficult to anticipate your residents’ needs.

Even worse, don’t keep a poorly attended program running just because you’ve always offered it. I guarantee you have at least one class on your monthly calendar in which participation has trickled off in recent months or even years. You may be saying to yourself, “Yes, but those three participants still really enjoy the class.” While that may be true, you may be neglecting a dozen more residents who have a desire for a different class while you are pouring resources into a sinking ship. Allow participation data to be a free resource to advance your community fitness program by allowing your staff to aim toward meaningful goals and hopefully more effective programs.

Benefits for Residents

The greatest benefit of all from tracking participation is how it can better serve the residents of your community! Everything that was stated in the previous section on benefiting the staff will of course carry over to benefit the residents through more meaningful program options. By tracking participation data, your fitness staff will be able to further evaluate who is coming to different classes or visiting the fitness center and how often they are doing so…and conversely, who is not! This is truly where relationships are made between the fitness staff and residents!

For example, the fitness staff will have the ability to note whether a three time per week balance class participant suddenly isn’t coming. A follow-up phone call to a resident noting their absence and welcoming them back makes a huge impact in resident adherence and satisfaction. Furthermore, targeted membership campaigns can be tailored to attract residents not currently participating in the program. Without the data to regularly report who is coming to what and when, these outreach efforts to residents would not be possible in a strategic and effective manner.

***

We can help your community get started developing these data practices through NIFS consulting services.  Click the link below to find out more about this cost effective and impactful offering.

find out more about consulting

 

Topics: senior fitness management CCRC fitness center ROI participation data collection

Active Aging: How to do wellness staffing right

The wellness staff you provide for residents in your senior living community can, quite simply, make or break your resident wellness strategy.  Hire only for qualifications, and you may miss the mark on a personality that works for the residents.  Hire with a primary focus on personality ("we can teach the hard skills, but you can't correct for personality") and you may never really get your services off the ground.

Recently, I wrote a blog about our hiring tips.  We're a staffing organization, so we do a lot of hiring to support senior living community wellness programs.  We also provide wellness consulting for retirement communities.  What I've seen from both ends of our work is that hiring incorrectly can significantly shortchange your active aging initiatives.  Fortunately, the converse is also true - hire well and your community can edge out its competition by providing a vibrant resident lifestyle.

In our Build Vitality series, we recently covered this very topic.  In the short, 25 minute program, you'll learn how to:

  • Determine the qualifications for the job.
  • Establish a job description.
  • Effectively post the job opening.
  • Develop a more in-depth interview process.
Watch the Build Better Wellness Staff Webinar

If you want to cut to the chase and access all four of our Build Vitality webinars, click here.

Topics: active aging senior wellness programs senior fitness management wellness brand for senior living

Proven Strategies for Building a World-Class Senior Wellness Program

senior livingPart 2: Eight Strategies to Bring About Successful Collaboration

In Part 1, I talked about the importance of setting aside power grabs and tapping into the skill sets of a variety of community personnel to establish a well-rounded wellness program for residents. Read on to discover a variety of ways your community leaders can work together to deliver best-in-class wellness programming to your residents.

Therapy Department:

1: A formal bridge program should be established between your community therapy and fitness departments to help residents transition from therapy to fitness and vice versa. Residents should feel supported in the collaboration that occurs between these two departments as their needs change.

2: Fall prevention and screening services can be offered through either department, but why not take a unified approach? Coordinate fall-prevention programs, lectures, health fairs, etc., and allow your therapy and fitness personnel to work side by side in addressing the variety of resident needs.

Activities Department:

3: As special trips or events are planned for residents, activities personnel can sit down with the fitness and therapy teams to discuss the demands that will be placed on the residents for said activity. Allow your fitness and therapy personnel to promote the upcoming event and develop educational opportunities or training programs to help residents prepare. For example, if residents are going on a trip to a historical destination where they will be walking on cobblestone or brick sidewalks, programs could be offered to help them prepare for extended walking on the terrain, or a discussion on the importance of proper footwear, cane use, and more could be provided.

4: As fitness classes or programs are coordinated and room reservations need to be made, help show your residents that physical well-being is a priority by making rooms and promotional space on calendars and newsletters available to market these programs. After all, if you are going to regularly advertise Tuesday Afternoon Bridge Group on the calendar, why wouldn’t you equally advertise the Tuesday Morning Gentle Yoga Class?

Dining Services Department:

5: Coordinate healthy cooking demonstrations for residents to help them learn how to order healthy selections in the dining room and then sample those healthy options at the demo.

6: You likely provide refreshments to residents at a variety of events. Consider serving cookies and punch as occasional treats and making healthy and engaging options for residents to enjoy. Allow them to create healthy smoothies or yogurt parfaits or create a DIY trail-mix bar with healthy options as you offer an afternoon seminar. Have members of your dining services team present so residents can better connect the healthy options flowing from that department with the educational lecture they are about to hear.

Resident Health Services Department:

7: Fitness and health services staff could coordinate their weekly free blood pressure screenings to occur right outside the doors of where a well-attended group exercise class takes place. This may help capture more participants in this service and it may bring more awareness to the group exercise class by other residents simply looking to take advantage of the free screening.

8: If you have underutilized services available through your health services department such as home health care, medication assistance, and so on, speak with your activities personnel about doing a monthly highlight of the services in the newsletter or in a presentation. It’s often that residents don’t understand or don’t realize that a service is available to them more so than not being interested. Find opportunities to spread the message.

You’ll notice that fitness isn’t included as its own separate header because it is already represented by collaborating with the other departments in the list. This remains NIFS’s philosophy on resident wellness programming. It’s how we support wellness for our clients, and we’ve found it to be an effective model that serves well the needs of current residents as well as contributes positively to community occupancy and viability in the marketplace.

Want to learn more about how to build those key elements in your community? Join us for our Build Vitality webinar series.

Topics: nifs fitness management NIFS senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center wellness brand for senior living

How to Build a Better Fitness Center for Your Residents

Senior living communities are spending a lot of time and resources today responding to the consumer's demand for opportunities to live well.  We see those responses translated into a variety of services and amenities that speak to wellness, and specifically exercise opportunities and fitness centers are one of the most common wellness elements in senior living.  Unfortunately, a lot of communities are still operating with exercise areas that are outdated and less than friendly for residents.  But money is tight, and allocating capital for improvements to existing exercise spaces or building brand new fitness centers is not a decision to be made lightly.  If you commit to investing in that type of capital improvement, you need to do it right. 

Questions about space allocation, design, equipment selection, programming, and liability can be overwhelming.

As you might expect, in my wellness consulting work at retirement communities, I get asked a lot of questions about new construction and rehabbing existing spaces.  I've answered some of the most common questions in a blog on the top 5 list of things to avoid when building a fitness center for senior living.

In a little bit deeper dive on key questions related to space design, size, and equipment, we hosted a "Build a Better Fitness Center" webinar, as part of our Build Vitality series.  The recording is below.  When you watch the 30 minute webinar, you find out more about the following:  

  • how to design/redesign a fitness area,
  • how to make sound exercise equipment selections for your residents,
  • what practices and policies need to be in place to effectively manage your liability, and
  • how to program the fitness areas for optimal engagement.

View the full Build a Better Fitness Center webinar using the button below. 

Watch the webinar: Build a Better Fitness Center 

If you want to cut to the chase and access all four of our Build Vitality webinars, click here.

 

Topics: active aging senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center Fitness Center fitness center for seniors

Proven Strategies for Building a World-Class Senior Wellness Program

senior wellnessPart 1: Who Should Be Contributing to Resident Wellness?

There are many interpretations of what a community “wellness program” should be, and to be fair, many interpretations are quite valid. We’re not saying one size fits all; quite the contrary. What we are saying is that there are multiple VALID interpretations of resident wellness and making your community aware of the potential variety (pulling away from “this is what we’ve always done”) will be beneficial for all. Tap into the unique skill sets of your community personnel to cultivate a harmonious and healthy lifestyle for your residents.

For example, resident health services and therapy departments may perceive clinical programs such as health metrics screenings or gait analysis as wellness programming. Your activities personnel may perceive socialization and educational seminars as a wellness program, whereas your community fitness personnel perceive prevention programming such as balance training and healthy eating as wellness. The answer to which of these options is truly a wellness program is “all of the above”—if they are executed effectively with a collaborative approach to promote resident well-being.

Oftentimes there are power grabs at play among community personnel on who is offering wellness or who should be involved in certain types of programming. We’ve written about silos and power grabs before. A well-rounded wellness program cannot truly exist until these power grabs are set aside and everyone learns to contribute to the greater good of resident care and well-being as a team. After all, how long will a resident truly be successful upon discharge from therapy services if they don’t have the support of fitness programming to continue their progress? Or what good is an educational lecture on the importance of managing your blood pressure as coordinated by your activities personnel if health screenings and clinical support are not available?

The needs and expectations of today’s residents are too dynamic and unique to have a “wellness program” facilitated through the vision of one department or one individual. To best serve the needs of residents, all departments should be contributing their own skill sets under a central mission for improving resident well-being.

In doing so, your community will be able touch on many different dimensions of wellness from one department to the next without placing the entire programming burden on one or two individuals. In turn, the scope of possibilities in programming is not as limited and a current of wellness-based lifestyle programs and options will flow from one department to the next. If you were to remove one of these departments, it would likely create a gap in your program. This collaboration can demonstrate to existing and prospective residents that individual agendas and power grabs are not the priority at your community, but improved resident well-being through collaboration is!

You won’t want to miss part 2 of this blog, in which we look into eight specific examples of where your key community players can contribute to well-rounded wellness programming.

Topics: NIFS senior wellness programs senior fitness management CCRC fitness center wellness brand for senior living