Connecting 7 Dimensions of Wellness to Fitness

For Gym Operators

Connecting 7 Dimensions of Wellness to Fitness

Regardless of age, there are seven dimensions of wellness that individuals should incorporate into their lives to stay healthy.

Here's how health club operators can maximize benefits for their members by using wellness in their programming.

Connecting 7 Dimensions of Wellness to Fitness

Wellness at Play

As far back as I can recall the importance of “play” has always been a cornerstone of my life and continues to be as I zoom into the chapters of boomer life in full stride. At a very young age, we encourage infants to explore tummy time and crawling. Parents relish in the joy babies experience when they begin to giggle, laugh, and interact with others. We encourage first steps and our children’s “first” experiences, whether riding a bike, navigating playgrounds, or getting involved with sports.

It's astounding and disappointing to learn that we have a crisis with obesity in our school-aged children and chronic diseases in the adult population. The fact that our nation is not well is represented among adults over the past 20 years that have seen a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and, although there has been some leveling off in recent years, rates remain at historically high levels. The target goal for children and adolescents, according to the Healthy People 2020 Report (CDC), is a 14.2 percent decrease in obesity by 2020 with a national focus on good nutrition, physical activity, and healthy body weight. Although some progress is being made, more needs to be done. Embracing important national campaigns and events could be a sound business strategy to incorporate when you are identifying your business goals.

Everyone has the ability to play regardless of their age and ability. Adding the elements of active participation and fun back into your daily lives could be the key secret ingredient to being well. Getting fit can be daunting and quality operators take the mission to heart with the programming services they offer.

Incorporating the seven dimensions of wellness into your class calendars could be the boost you need to invigorate your client base year round. It is true that it takes intrinsic motivation and inner drive to succeed in the wellness game, but being creative and adapting programming in order to have it resonate with all of the demographics of your facility is important for retention. Additionally, ensuring you are aware of the current trends from a variety of sources could provide the intel necessary to invigorate your programs and increase attendance. Functional training, weight training, strength, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) all ranked in the top 10 of the ASCM Worldwide Fitness Trends Reports. Being aware of trends and tapping into the aspirations of your members is a smart move to ensure you are aware of what interests non-participants ages six to 65-plus, as outlined in The Physical Activity Report 2015.

Many resources are now available to families and operators alike, and whether you are a grandparent, commercial facility, or even a nonprofit organization, the following ideas are examples that can jumpstart your member base and ignite their passion for having fun and being well in daily life.

The Seven Dimensions of Wellness

The seven dimensions of wellness are concepts that operators should consider integrating into their programming.

1. Physical

Boomers want to maximize functionality and participate in relevant programming like high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Names such as Playground Fitness, Full Throttle Bootcamp, and Mindful Walking or Yoga will resonate. Additionally, identify partners with proven experts that specialize in a particular area on the wellness continuum and offer evidence-based programming. For example, long-term care, retirement living, private medical care practices, commercial, and specialty clubs would all benefit from having partners or on-site rehabilitation wellness experts. I often share in older adult wellness trainings that if “you do not use it, you will lose it." Endurance, strength, and flexibility classes should be the bread and butter of your schedule, however, broadcasting the benefits of the classes is imperative when marketing to adults over the age of 50. What you name a class can make all the difference.

2. Intellectual

Awareness of cognitive decline is making the headlines more and more.

Being mindful in all areas of your life is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. When listening to your clients or even loved ones in your life, have you heard the words “I am retired” or “I am not as young as I use to be”? It is my opinion that these words always seem to come from those who are watching life pass them by, lack the will to learn new things, and are content to passively sit on the sidelines. On the flip side, nothing is more inspiring than when I run into an active ager who is 70-plus and regularly participates in activities. Believe it or not, there is even a way to make bingo active versus passive with a little creativity and the weaving in of interesting facts, news, and trivia.

3. Environmental

Understanding the impact the environment has on well-being can be a way to engage all ages in indoor and outdoor environments that are playful, artistic, and innovative.

Consider exploring “TO GO” programming, which offers consumer-based resources and tools with walking trackers, such as the popular WALK! with Aegis event or other events in your community that you can piggy-back onto in order to maximize results. Work with the environmental wonders in your own community by doing something as simple as walking out your front door and playing with your kids. You can instantly create an adult playground that promotes active participation in existing public areas. Active-participation areas provide opportunities for all ages and encourage intergenerational wellness.

 Eric Hulderson
Photo credit: Eric Hulderson

4. Social

Staying connected and socially engaged is a key factor in combating health issues from mood disorders like depression and stress, as well as related chronic conditions like heart disease.

Expressing gratitude can be one important tool to use to strengthen relationships and can even make us feel closer and more connected to friends and family. In one study, researchers at Harvard Medical School followed nearly 45,000 people who had heart disease or were at high risk of developing it. Over four years, the study authors tracked the participants’ health and found that those who lived alone were more likely to die from heart attack, stroke, or other heart-related problems than those who lived with others. Think inclusive versus exclusive and expand your signature programming outside the walls of your gym.

This can bring special interest clubs and community members together in creative ways that go beyond the classic group exercise classes. Think eight-week Balance Classes, Aquatics, or Brain Power series.

5. Spiritual

Spirituality related to religion can be very personal, however, including self-worth, meaning, love, and relatedness are what can bond your clients/members to your facility.

Incorporating relaxation and stress management courses could help your members identify sources of stress and find ways to negate them. Targeting factors that cause stress through adaptation, altering of stressful situations, and encouraging a healthier lifestyle by including visualization and meditation can be used in a variety of ways in class formats. Pain management techniques that enable individuals to restore mobility and gain the confidence to participate more often are important as well.

6. Occupational

Not everyone wants to be defined by their job title, and living with purpose and feelings of self-worth should be a lifelong commitment.

Gaining personal satisfaction and finding enrichment in one’s life through work can mean learning new skills. At the cornerstone should be maintaining full functionality in order to enjoy the activities of daily living. Consider promoting the benefits of your classes that can help manage arthritis and promote joint stability, flexibility, joint protection, and energy conservation, as well as educating participants on the diagnosis of arthritis.

The overarching goal is to improve function and relieve pain in order for individuals to increase their participation and overcome objections. Promoting back and balance classes would also be well received and bring in new clients through your doors.

7. Emotional

Declining health and mobility can cause significant insecurity, general unease, or nervousness in a person. Promoting restorative tools for compensating individuals will give them the needed confidence to regain functionality.

There is low vision, cognitive, and even pain assessments that could be offered by experts if you hosted a community health fair. Providing exercise suggestions is essential to encourage more movement amongst affected individuals. Seeking and aligning with meaningful national initiatives that support all Americans like #0to60, a national public awareness campaign to live a healthy and active life, should be part of all of our job descriptions. We assume the role of change-makers as we incorporate playful strategies that can positively impact the active agers in our communities.

Sources: US Department of Health & Human Services Healthy People 2020, 2016 Fitness Trends, TIME, EnerG Course Catalog Aegis Therapies

Author Information

Tracey Harvey
Tracey Harvey's picture

Tracey Harvey, National Program Director Wellness Services, EnerG® by Aegis Therapies, is a nationally recognized leader in contract rehabilitation and wellness services with more than 8,400 therapists and clinicians providing proven therapy services in over 1,400 facilities across 42 states. Harvey has over three decades of experience in the Fitness/Wellness/ Retirement Living Industry and champions evidence-based programs across the nation to increase overall results using aspects of innovative business development tactics to drive quality, consistency, and successful outcomes.

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