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.
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.