Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Senior Fitness: Don't be afraid to go back to the basics

In every fitness center setting it seems that the goal is to provide the most up-to-date, “trendy” group fitness classes and personal training. And while I agree that trying to offer something new and exciting is very important, I also think that sometimes we need to bring fitness back to the basics.

NIFS | seniors seated stretching

This is very important at a senior living setting. Many of our senior living communities support active living for several hundred people and providing fitness services appropriate for every fitness level can be challenging. It easy to cater to the “most active” group of participants. But we wanted to make sure we were reaching as many different residents as possible, so our fitness center staff challenged ourselves to take it back to the basics by providing a personalized group training that focused on the “bare bones” of exercise. And let me tell you, it has been some of the most rewarding work I’ve done to date! 

While I can’t deny that fitness professionals get a thrill out of providing a tough workout in a high intensity class and hearing “that was hard,” I can honestly say that providing an appropriate workout for those who need to take it back to the basics of fitness is also just as thrilling. Being able to coach a member to stand up from his chair independently when he hasn't been able to in a long time can make your heart swell with pride for his accomplishment. 

Now I’m taking that “back to basics” challenge to you dear reader. If you work in a senior fitness setting, take a look at your membership. Start identifying the needs of your members who struggle with standing, walking, overall balance, basic strength, and most importantly their confidence! One of the criteria we used when we started evaluating who might benefit most from “back to basics” programming was to begin with members who tend to get a little behind in class and do not reap the full the benefits. 

Once you build that member list, start reaching out individually to target specific fitness and functional living needs. Then watch how your overall participation numbers grow and how the increased confidence of some of your more frail residents helps them gain additional strength for every day needs. This experience has surprised me; I didn’t expect that getting back to the basics would be so rewarding and exciting, but it has been an absolute joy. Have a similar story to share? Respond the comments below.

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Topics: active aging group fitness for seniors senior group fitness classes resident fitness exercise and aging fitness for frail seniors

Is Your Senior Fitness Program Challenging Enough?

At this point most retirement communities have recognized that senior fitness programs are as important as having a great social program or food and beverage program. The impact these programs have on marketing is tremendous, and so it is no wonder that everyone is looking to have the most popular programs with the newest class titles. Now that exercise is a key focal point and the residents are in the community, take a look at your programs and see if they are doing the residents justice. 

senior_womenDoes Your Program Help Residents Reach Their Full Potential?

In the most recent ICAA Research Review, there is an article shining light on sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle strength and mass due mainly to age. Simply put, as we get older we naturally become weaker. While reading this article I began to question how many programs in retirement communities truly push their residents to accomplish their full potential. 

Does your program challenge your residents to get down on the floor and back up again a few times during a class? No? Why not? Many of my residents are insulted when others expect that they can no longer get on the floor. I also have many who say they cannot get on the floor because then they won’t be able to get up. Over time our community’s fitness instructors and I have been able to prove to the residents that they can still get up from down on the floor and that it does get easier with practice. More importantly, being able to get up off the floor is vital to practice. 

According to the CDC, one out of three seniors will fall, and less than half of them will go to the doctor in regard to their falls. Now stop and think about all of those people that can’t get on the floor because they “won’t be able to get back up.” Statistics show there is a very high likelihood that they will land on the ground, and that is a terrible time to learn they truly can’t get up. 

Don’t Get Complacent

We, as individuals, have always had someone to help guide us, challenge us, and push us to achieve more, work harder, and be true to ourselves. When do we decide we no longer push someone? At what age do we decide that an individual should turn on the cruise control and just be? As a person of wellness, I don’t believe there is ever a time to show someone it is okay to become complacent. These individuals need to see that they are still capable of doing a great deal more. We need to be willing to work with our seniors both in classes and individually to help safely get them stronger—or at least maintain the strength they have—in order to help them not only live a longer life, but live a longer and more independent life. 

How do you challenge your senior living residents? When is the last time you asked them if they were being challenged enough? I bet you would be surprised at how many are asking for something a little more. I know I was. 

For more on why fitness is so important for seniors, see this post.

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Topics: senior wellness programs CCRC fitness center senior living fitness center senior group fitness classes

Benefits to offering Zumba Gold® in your Active Aging Community

senior woman dancingWhen I first began working at a CCRC a year ago I learned that Zumba® classes were being taught.  I was very intrigued and actually sat in on the class within the first couple days of being here.  Prior to attending the class, I kept thinking to myself that this was a pretty intense class to be taught to seniors.  After attending the class I was pleasantly surprised as to how enjoyable the class is for the participants.  The type of class that was being taught is actually called Zumba Gold® and was specifically designed for active seniors as well as those participants who may not be ready for full on Zumba®.  Zumba Gold® still uses the same concept of original Zumba® by incorporating exciting Latin and international dance rhythms.  Some of these dances include Merengue, Salsa, Cha Cha, Cumbia, and Belly Dancing.  You are guaranteed to get a full body workout but the exercises are modified for success and safety.  A lot of the moves may even be done at 1/2 tempo so that everyone is able to follow.  The most interesting thing that I observed was that many of the participants were seated during the Zumba Gold® class.  This makes the class available to everyone, including those who may be in wheelchairs or are unable to stand for long periods of time.

There are a wide range of benefits of Zumba®, these include:

  • Improved muscular strength and endurance
  • Improved cardiovascular system
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved posture
  • Reduces depression, stress and anxiety
  • Opportunity to meet new people
  • Enhanced quality of life

The residents at our community absolutely love that this class is offered!  It is one of our most well attended classes at our community.  This population has grown up around music so what better way to get some exercise while dancing around to good music!  I hear over and over again from the residents that it doesn’t even feel like they are exercising because they enjoy the music so well and they just start grooving.

If you are interested in having Zumba Gold® at your CCRC you will first need to have a licensed Zumba Gold® instructor to teach the classes.  There are always training workshops being taught all over the United States you just have to find the one nearest to you.  You may find these training workshops at the following address Zumba Training.  Now the question is are you ready to live up to the Zumba® motto and ditch the workout and join the party?

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Topics: active aging nifs fitness management CCRC fitness center zumba gold senior group fitness classes