Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

5 Design Considerations for a Senior Living Fitness Center

Sagewood - Kimberly 005This has been the year of design and consulting work for senior living clients who are renovating or building new fitness centers. I think I could give you the dimensions of a NuStep T4r model in my sleep (they are 60 x 27 x 24 inches, by the way). It truly is exciting to see the industry dedicating resources to well-designed fitness spaces to support quality programs and services for residents.

Although getting the right equipment and layout is important, these five design elements come up time and time again and should be considered early in the planning process. They might not be the same level of financial investment as your large equipment purchases, but they can significantly enhance your users’ experience and the program’s success.

  • Televisions and entertainment: Determine whether you will pursue wall-mount televisions or the integrated console option on the cardio machines. With some equipment like NuSteps and rowers not having the integrated TV option, you will want a wall-mount TV somewhere in your facility. With wall-mount TVs you’ll have to navigate the channel wars for the lifelong battle between Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, which individuals have VERY strong preferences for—imagine that! Consider an FM tuner option with headphones if needed, but we generally see residents politely following the first-come, first-served rule.
  • Water source: Don’t forget to dedicate space for a water fountain or hydration station in the fitness center and where group fitness classes are held, or within immediate proximity. It’s highly important to encourage hydration during exercise. The more conveniently located the water source, the better.
  • Balance training area: When designing a fitness center, most think of cardio equipment, strength equipment, and then a stretching area. Don’t forget about an area dedicated to balance training. This can be as simple as a wall with a handrail and a balance pad. A balance training area can be one of the busiest spots in your fitness center—particularly if you have qualified staffing to provide fall-prevention programming.
  • Mirrored walls: Coaching residents on how to perform exercises in front of a mirror can make a significant impact on reinforcing proper form and posture. This can be especially important in group fitness spaces or in areas of the fitness center where residents might be performing balance, resistance band, or dumbbell exercises.
  • Exercise chairs: We are big fans of the Resistance Chair for exercise classes, but if you are using traditional chairs, consider these specifications to make them more exercise-friendly. Armrests can be obstructive to a number of upper-body exercises, limiting a participant’s range of motion. Choosing an option without armrests or a slimmer armrest option is ideal. Also consider the height and weight of the chair; many chairs are used as a stable base of support and serve as a handle during standing exercises. Consider a chair with a taller backrest that can help residents maintain a tall, upright posture while performing exercises.

These minor details can make a big impact on the functionality of the space and programming options. We have designed dozens of senior living fitness centers and take these things and much more into consideration when creating the most functional and comfortable space for residents. Check out NIFS’ Senior Living Wellness Consulting page for more insight into how we support fitness center design projects across the country.

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

Topics: balance technology senior living fitness center fitness center design equipment senior wellness consulting

Future Fitness: What’s Hot and Where Are Our Workouts Headed?

The fitness industry has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Fitness has gone through many transformations throughout history, with plyometric-based activities being the first main form of staying in shape. People trained for functionality and usability of techniques and strength in general. Today, we have become much more personalized and have many driving factors behind why and how we work out.

GettyImages-1132973672 (1)Fitness Fads vs. Classic Methods

Today’s fitness industry is wildly different from even 10–15 years ago. We have had many fads in the industry that have peaked and disappeared. Some of these were deserving of such a fate, but there are some staples that have seemed to stand the test of time. These types of fitness methods include standard weightlifting/bodybuilding style, pioneered by the generation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as the marathon runs that started centuries ago with Olympic athletes. In my opinion, some people stick to traditional methods, and others like to go with what is new and fresh in the industry.

Group Fitness Trends

Group fitness classes are adapting to changing wants. These wants have gone from the likes of Tae Bo and Jazzercise to Boot Camp–style classes, CrossFit, hot yoga, immersive spin classes, and a mix of different styles like PiYo and others. This has shown that classes are becoming more varied, and are allowing people to be more specific in the type of class they want to participate in. I love this adaptation, and I hope it continues to grow for people who like the group environment. (Look here for more of what NIFS is offering in Group Fitness.)

The Impact of Technology on Fitness

Today’s fitness industry is quickly incorporating technology to improve not only the experience of working out, but also the data available afterward. People are becoming more educated about the effects of exercise from a physiological standpoint, and are tracking metrics normally not available to people even a few years ago. Wearable technology allows people to track their heart rates and performance in real-time, which provides an intrinsic motivation to continue on their workout routine. This is just one part of the industry that is quickly seeing changes.

Fitness equipment seems to be smarter and smarter by the day, with machines getting larger TV screens that give many options in real-time data, as well as entertainment like video games controlled by the exercise performed (such as with spin bikes and rowers).

My Predictions

All this advancement in technology has inspired my predictions on the future of the fitness industry. I believe the introduction of DNA-based fitness testing and performance measurement will make its way into the mainstream industry soon, as well as augmented-reality–based training, allowing individuals to escape the standard gym environment and become fully immersed in a new experience. It seems that social media is a large driving force for these new technologies and workout types, and I can see these being popular for people who want to try the newest and greatest technology in their workouts.

If you ask me, I will stick with the simple workouts: run and lift some metal. Call me old school, but with the advancement of fitness technology and equipment, the same task needs to be accomplished at the end of the day, and if I can simplify that process, I will go that route. However, I still look forward to what the future holds!

Topics: NIFS technology fitness trends group fitness workouts

NIFS Wii Bowling Tourney Brings Out Competition All Over the U.S.

HRGT Wii Bowling 3This summer, teams all around the country ironed their bowling shirts, warmed up their throwing arms, and double-checked their TV connections in preparation for the first-ever 10-week session of the NIFS Wii Bowling League.

What started as a little friendly banter between colleagues quickly became a full-blown tournament as NIFS managers from various fitness centers started exploring new opportunities for some variety in recreation programming. After a few group emails had been sent, we finally came up with the idea to host a virtual bowling tournament.

Residents formed teams of two to four people. Each week, teams played their round of bowling and NIFS fitness center managers sent scores in to be tallied. Each Monday, updated standings and a new schedule were sent out to all participating sites. This went on during seven weeks of regular play, and then the single-elimination playoffs began. After three weeks of playoffs, only one team was left standing: The PinStrikers from Lakewood, NJ are this summer’s Wii Bowling Champions!

Thinking of hosting your own Wii Bowling tournament? Here are a few tips to make it successful:

Make it accessible to everyone.

Nearly everyone can learn how to play Wii Bowling. That’s one of the best things about it! Just practice patience when teaching new people and everything will go well. You can even play while seated if balance is a concern.

Be sure the rules are clearly communicated.

Avoid frustration from all parties and be sure you are clear about the rules you’ll play by. For our tournament, we had a schedule and then the standings were set according to win/loss record rather than by scores. It made the tournament aspect much more interesting because there were no clear front-runners or favorites.

Make it fun!

I hope this goes without saying, but fun should be the first priority here. Be sure everyone is clear that it’s just a game and the opportunity is open to everyone!

Have you ever hosted a virtual tournament between teams of people in different communities? NIFS can help you evaluate your program and improve offerings for your residents with NIFS Consulting, click below for more information.

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

Topics: senior fitness management fitness programs for seniors balance technology competition sports senior living activities

Why Wearable Fitness Trackers Aren't Your Wellness Program

ThinkstockPhotos-470428334.jpgConsidering how long it can take to make a global shift in corporate America, the rise of wearable fitness trackers in wellness has been meteoric. A recent study reports an anticipated 13M wearables will enter the corporate wellness market by 2018. Despite the rapid adoption of this technology by businesses for their employees, there remains healthy skepticism about what exactly is being measured and who is privy to that data.

It would be tempting, I think, for an employer to see wearable tech as the answer to their questions about how to have an employee wellness program. The devices are relatively inexpensive and generally easy to use. And many adults already use a device without it being connected to a corporate wellness program, so there is no introduction of something foreign to which the workforce must adapt.

But the easy answer isn't always the right answer. Here are three reasons why wearable fitness trackers aren't your wellness program.

1. It's not always about the numbers.

Despite the continued drumbeat for measurement, ROI, and quantifying value in wellness, providing opportunities for your employees to live well isn't always about the numbers. If you're offering a wellness program and your only goal is to save money on healthcare costs for the business, you're (dare I say) probably doing employee wellness for the wrong reasons.

Your employees are people—people with complicated and busy lives. If you want them to live well, you may want to rethink your desire to hook them up with a tracking device that's going to report on everything from steps to sleep. You might view it as a perk, while employees see it as more pressure.

If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, consider them as an option among many other tools your workforce can choose from to live well in ways that are meaningful to them.

[Related Content: Why Employee Purpose might be the Heart of Corporate Wellness]

 

2. Like most programs under the corporate wellness banner, one size does not fit all.

If you're a fan of using a tracker personally, it may come as a surprise that they're not a good choice for everyone. Some people are quickly defeated by the constant barrage of information, so instead of serving as a device to motivate individuals, they have the opposite effect. Other people quickly turn to obsession with the data, constantly feeling like they need to do more, move more, sleep better, etc., to the exclusion of other more important activities (like work). As eloquently stated in this personal account, "...there is a fine line between health consciousness and a health obsession...."

While this study on wearables points to a 53% adoption rate for the under-40 employee crowd (note that the adoption rate for the over-50 employee group was at 36%) as a good thing, I'm left to wonder...what about the other 50+% of your workforce? If you insist on wearables in your wellness program, understand the potential reach as well as the potential concerns among your employees. Diversity in your offerings acknowledges the varied interests and passions of your employees.

3. High-tech has a place, but so does high-touch.

I've written about high-tech vs. high-touch in corporate wellness before. Wellness isn't an either/or proposition when you consider high-tech and high-touch options. You need sophisticated tech solutions to understand what is and isn't working in your wellness program. Still, there are limits to what technology can do for your business when it comes to helping employees live well.

For the employee who is caring for his parents who are aging in place with dementia, the wellness tracker does not get him more engaged at work or taking more steps; it only leaves him feeling more alone in his caregiving situation. It doesn't provide support for him while he struggles to figure out how he's going to get dinner to his parents and still make it to his son's baseball game. But if he has a relationship with the wellness manager (high-touch), he might open up about this personal situation. Then the wellness manager can help him find resources through the EAP or the local-area agency on aging.

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Your amazing employees are complex and they need a variety of tools at their disposal to live well. Wearables aren't the answer; they're just a piece of the puzzle. Need to think outside the wearable option? Grab these seven ideas for how to make movement easy at work.

Looking to add exercise options to your corporate wellness offerings?  Check our out free download to help get you started!

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Topics: corporate wellness ROI technology wearables fitness trackers

3 Video Game Systems for Senior Living Communities

WP_20130424_016.jpgTwenty years ago, if someone had suggested purchasing video games for a retirement community, they would have been laughed at. “Those are for kids,” would have been the response. “No one over 60 is ever going to be interested in that.” I’m here to tell you times have changed! Now, everywhere you look people of all ages are getting in on the action and testing their skills in the virtual world.

Here are just three of the systems popping up in communities all over the country.

Nintendo Wii

This is probably the most popular one for communities because it’s been around for quite a while now and it’s fairly easy to use. The Nintendo Wii is a low-cost, commercially available interactive gaming system that gives immediate visual feedback in balance training. For most Wii games, players hold a remote and use it as the golf putter, baseball bat, bowling arm, etc. to play.

An optional add-on is the balance board for the Wii Fit game, which enables a user to test his or her center of balance with a visual display onscreen that shows what percentage of their body weight they carry over each foot. Those with an uneven center of balance will unnaturally compensate for their imbalance, which can cause their posture to become misaligned, increasing the level of stress on their bodies. The game allows users to learn about their balance and provides them with tips for improving an uneven center of balance with several different training modes, including yoga, strength training, balance games, and aerobics.

Xbox Kinect

The Kinect has been around for a few years as well, but it’s certainly newer technology than the Wii. There is no remote to hold or board to stand on. There is simply a camera that points at the general space where you’re playing and then your body is the “remote.” The Kinect generally requires a bigger space than the Wii and it’s more expensive, but the games are also more advanced. If you are working with a more active community, this may be the way to go. There is a lot more foot movement required for most of the Kinect games, so be sure to educate residents on safety before really getting into the action.

PlayStation Move

The idea of the PlayStation Move is very similar to the Wii. Each person has a remote and their motion is captured by a camera that’s plugged into the gaming system. I don’t have personal experience with this system, but from the reviews it looks like the movements and reaction time of the sensors/camera are much better on the Move than on the other two systems. Of course, that’s coming with a higher price tag, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons yourself. The Move offers a wide array of game options, from the mostly sedentary to the action-packed.

All three systems are great options for your senior living community. They do range in price, but you can often find a refurbished/used version of the system online or at your local GameStop store. Each system has a range of exercise options, from the traditional fitness games, to dance games, to more of the recreational pastimes. No matter which console you choose, they all encourage more physical activity in the community, and isn’t that the goal at the end of the day?

Also, there’s an added perk of having these systems available at your community. When grandkids come to visit, these consoles provide a great activity that spans generations. Think of how impressed that 10-year-old will be when grandpa shows them how to score big at the Home Run Derby on Wii!

How have you used gaming systems to improve your senior fitness program’s physical activity?

Download: Why is exercise important for seniors? >

Topics: balance senior fitness senior living community technology video games

Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2017

ThinkstockPhotos-615414964.jpgEvery year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducts a survey across the United States to determine what trends will be seen in the coming year. Completed by over 1,800 fitness professionals, the survey has found the following to be the top 10 fitness trends for 2017. 

10. Wearable technology, such as activity trackers, smart watches, heart-rate monitors, smart eyeglasses, and GPS tracking devices.  Check out this blog post about the challenges with high tech wellness.

 9. Bodyweight training requires minimal to no equipment and can be done anywhere, which makes it an inexpensive way to stay fit.  Check out @NIFSquickfit on instagram for inspiration to use your bodyweight to train at home.

 8. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves short bursts of exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and can take 30 to 60 minutes, or longer, to complete.

 7. Educated and experienced fitness professionals are becoming more available as the ways to get certified and educated grow. Finding professionals who have gotten certified through nationally accredited programs can help consumers make an important decision more easily.  Looking to staff your onsite fitness center, check out how you can get back to business and let the professionals handle your fitness center. 

 6. Strength training has been trending since the first survey was published by ACSM in 2006. Strength training can help many to improve or maintain current levels of strength.  Grab your co-workers and get fit at lunch.  

 5. Group training is designed for participants with varied levels of fitness. Group fitness instructors specifically program these classes for a fun, motivational, and effective large-group experience. 

 4. Exercise Is Medicine is a global health initiative based on the belief that exercise can be preventative as well as a way to treat diseases. This initiative brings health care professionals together with exercise professionals to include physical activity as treatment.

 3. Yoga can be practiced in many forms, including but not limited to Power Yoga, Yogalates, and hot Yoga. Yoga uses specific types of postures to help with flexibility, relaxation, and health.  Can't make it to Yoga?  Take a moment to stretch at your desk.  Making time for a five minute stretch break will help you ease tension and relax the mind.

 2. Personal training has not left the top ten since the first survey was published in 2006. Personal trainers will continue to be an integral part of the professional staff in all areas of health and fitness centers.

 1. Exercise and weight loss combine calorie restriction and exercise programming to control weight loss.

The full list of top 20 trends is available in the article "Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2017.”

Looking to improve the health and wellbeing of your employees this year?  Let us handle your program and you get back to doing what you love to do.  Click below for our quick read to find out how we make corporate fitness easy.

We make corporate fitness easy.  Find out how.

Topics: exercise weight loss strength training technology yoga group fitness personal trainng bodyweight HIIT

High-Touch Versus High-Tech in Corporate Wellness

fit techThere’s been a lot in the media lately about wearable technology having a strong presence in corporate wellness. Employee wellness programs have provided a whole new market for some wearable manufacturers, and one research firm indicates that upwards of 13 million wearables could become part of employee wellness initiatives in the next five years.

The Challenges with  High Tech Wellness

This specific high-tech phenomenon is fairly new and relatively unresearched in terms of long-term effectiveness at helping adults make sustainable health behavior change. But technology in corporate wellness has been around for years and it has evolved to keep up with perceived wants and needs. Years (and I mean years) ago, we used to take health risk assessments (HRA) on paper. Then those moved to this thing called the internet. Eventually, we got “smart” feedback on those HRAs and our fingerstick data was integrated with our self-report HRA responses to create a profile.

Now we have web capacity to integrate with pedometers and other higher-tech wearables like Up® by Jawbone® and various products by Fitbit. The data syncs up to a company site where we can compete with our peers, and it links with our own tracking tools on our phones. We have access to a lot of information about our movement. Still, I wonder if data is really king when it comes to health behavior change. Are high-tech solutions enough to help someone move their own needle?

You probably have anecdotes where someone’s health was profoundly changed with the help of a wearable, an app, or some combination. You, like me, may also know stories where a wearable began an obsession with data and quickly sucked all the fun out of measuring the movement. So effectiveness may very well be in the arm of the wearer (so to speak). Still, there are definite limits to today’s tech solutions. Maybe someone will solve them down the line, but right now, as I see it, there are barriers on tech that limit potential impact on improving health. There’s a great outline of these limits in this Forbes article.

There are other issues with a high-tech-only solution that have come to light recently, as well. For example, while more and more boomers (who are still in your workforce) are adopting technology solutions in various areas of their lives, they still lag behind Gen X and Millennials in their rate of adoption. This article makes the case that boomers may be the demographic most likely to benefit from, and most willing to pay for health-related technology, but the market isn’t designing for them.

And while the technology certainly supports what seems to be the unquenchable thirst for data, there is still the tricky math involved in determining whether your employee wellness device translates to actual company savings on health care.

How High Touch Wellness Helps

When you look at the challenges identified in the Forbes article, many (dare I say all) of them can be worked through or even remedied by a human being with a brain and some capacity for nuance. And here’s where high-touch in corporate wellness steps up.

The right people powering your corporate wellness program should be

  • Both capable of and passionate about helping your employees establish healthy goals and effective plans to achieve those goals.
  • Compassionate motivators who have the right skills to nudge participants toward finding their own intrinsic motivation.
  • Nuanced enough to know when to step in to provide a course correction when your employees stop engaging or when their efforts aren’t achieving the carefully crafted goals.
  • Savvy at helping participants understand their data in a way that’s meaningful and impactful.

Using people in a high-touch capacity to bolster and back up your high-tech tools can be an effective way to help your employees achieve better health. 

CORP Initiatives

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health technology corporate wellness staffing counting steps

Employee Health: Smaller Is Better

This blog was written by Melissa Cusick. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

cell phones, technologyIn the world of technology, time equals improvement and efficiency. Back in the day, we had computers that occupied the space of an entire room and Zack Morris-sized cell phones. Now we have personal computers that fit in the palm of a hand and Zoolander-sized cell phones. It seems that as more is discovered in the world of technology, items have become smaller and more efficient. Interestingly enough, this concept does not seem to apply to people.

In 1995 when the United States began tracking obesity rates, Mississippi had the nation’s highest adult obesity rate at 19.8 percent. Now, 16 years later in 2011, Colorado has the nation’s lowest adult obesity rate at 19.4 percent.

As you can see, what used to be the upper end of the nation’s obesity scale is now at the extreme low end of the spectrum. This is concerning because common conditions associated with obesity include, but are not limited to, high cholesterol and triglycerides, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease, all conditions that can be avoided with proper nutrition and activity.

Nowadays, we have low-calorie options at stores and restaurants, fitness centers popping up on virtually every corner, and educational tools at our fingertips. We can download an app on our tiny cell phones to count calories or find a healthy restaurant or fitness facility. But do we?

Something common to the field of technology and humans is that bigger is not always better. What has changed in our society in the last 16 years that has influenced the adult obesity rate to increase so severely? What can corporate wellness programs do to help reverse this alarming trend?

Topics: corporate wellness obesity technology

Senior Health & Wellness: Staying "Home Sweet Home"

This blog was written by Melissa Sherman. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

senior wellness, retirement, seniors at homeAs the first wave of baby boomers are turning 65 this year, there is a rush to the finish line in the technology field to see who can come up with the best ideas to keep elders healthy, happy, and in their own homes.

With the array of senior-living care available between group housing, nursing homes, and assisted-living establishments, you may be wondering what the importance of keeping seniors in their homes might be, but experts now believe that quality of life for seniors is significantly better when they are able to stay in their own homes. This is not to mention much cheaper for society keeping them at home is than these senior-living homes or institutions.

Studies are being conducted by the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology at Oregon Health and Science University in order to come up with new ideas and technology to keep elders in their homes without jeopardizing their safety and health. The research lab in Oregon includes a model home with all the latest gadgets, such as motion sensors along hallways and ceilings to record gait and walking speed, a back door monitor to observe when one leaves the house, a refrigerator monitor to keep tabs on how one is eating, and even a bed that assesses breathing patterns, heart rate, and general sleep quality. Some other gadgets include a pill box with electronic switches that records when medication is taken. In the works are several other items such as software to help dementia patients find their way home if they get lost, devices that interpret facial expressions, and robotic "pets" that have lifelike interactions with seniors.

There is still much to be done, though, and many hills to climb before you will see this technology on the shelves. Families would have to spend several hundred dollars or more to get these sensors, and monthly monitoring fees can top $100, with little to no help from insurance or Medicaid. However, if these new devices can help keep seniors happier and healthier, as well as help to save society money in the long run, why shouldn’t we all have the opportunity to spend our golden years right where we have always belonged: “home sweet home”?

Topics: senior wellness programs technology independence

Using the iLog1 App in Corporate Wellness Programs

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

Little did we know when the iPhone was introduced that it could one day transform our total body fitness. Robert Jay Martin has attempted to do just that with his new app, the iLog1, available for iPhone, iPad, or iPod.

iphone

iLog1 Tracks Health Stats and Reports Trends

I’ve come across several phone apps and online tools that can track both diet and exercise, but the iLog1 goes a few steps further to enable the user to record their sleep habits, body mass index (BMI), daily mood, and even housework or other chores. The best feature is that the iLog1 charts all of this data to display trends. In any scientific research, or even an individual’s lifestyle change, it’s the trends that are the most telling.

The iLog1 also offers enough customization to be used by skilled athletes, fitness newbies, or even a large company looking to track how many employees participate in corporate health incentives.

Introducing iLog1 into Corporate Wellness Programs

Corporate fitness management has, in the past, used systems of handwritten food journals, paper exercise logs, or maybe certain computer programs to track diet or exercise progress. How could we introduce applications like these into our corporate wellness programming?

While we are not pushing any certain product or brand on our clients, as you’re doing a one-on-one consultation with a member, it could be worth asking whether he or she already owns an iPhone. If so, the iLog1 could be a valid solution to helping the client manage and track his or her fitness goals.

In the corporate world, I believe employees value the convenience of needing only one hand-held device to quickly enter their health stats throughout the day. One quick glance at the iLog1 could tell the user how many calories are left in the day’s budget before going out for a lunch meeting. As busy employees are checking e-mail on the iPhone or iPad, they could also check their iLog1 and be reminded to fit in those 30 minutes of cardio before they go home.

Survival and success of corporate fitness programming depends on offering impactful information and guidance in a technologically savvy, gadget-loving world. Convenience sells!

 

 

  

Topics: exercise corporate fitness nutrition technology