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Showcasing your fitness program: Beyond the bricks and mortar

Demonstrating your senior living community’s dedication to helping residents live well requires more than making a quick stop in your fitness center on a tour with a prospective client. Simply showcasing the physical space cannot reveal all the programs and services that your community deploys to support active aging for your residents or demonstrate your overall culture of wellness.

We have seen some of the most high-tech equipment in the most beautiful fitness centers go widely unused because a supportive culture is not in place. On the contrary, we’ve seen smaller fitness centers with limited equipment become vibrant hubs of activity because of well-designed programs and support.

According to the ICAA state of wellness: Priorities and progress 2019 report, 71% of senior living providers include wellness concepts in their planning process. Those plans range from physical spaces to reorganization and staff support. Demonstrating how your wellness culture makes residents’ lives better allows you to set your facility apart from its competitors and attract more attention from prospective clients.

Although it’s important to showcase your physical wellness facilities, your fitness program message should be less about the bricks and mortar and equipment and more about the program and service elements that help your residents to age well. 

Showcasing your fitness program: Beyond the bricks and mortar

Consider these elements that can help your marketing and sales team spotlight all the ways your community supports vibrant living.

  • Start with data. Lay a strong foundation in your fitness program by tracking and evaluating data on elements such as total participants, visits to the fitness center, number of classes, most popular programs and other factors that can demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. Help your marketing team identify the talking points you want to share during prospect tours and via social media posts. If you don’t consistently track such data, it is difficult to substantiate the impact of your fitness program. Consider the difference between simply showing a prospect your fitness center and telling that prospect, “Ninety-three percent of the residents in our community are members of our fitness program. Many had never exercised prior to moving here, but they love our robust schedule of classes, individualized exercise plans and fitness challenges. We have something for everyone, and our residents are thriving as a result.”
  • Share residents’ triumphs. A qualified fitness professional at the helm of your fitness program will see and hear directly from your residents about the strides they are making in their fitness, balance and overall well-being. These professionals can supply some of these success stories to your marketing and sales teams to share with prospective clients. Imagine the impact of a story like this one: “Bill Ball was using a cane prior to moving into the community six months ago, but after regularly participating in the balance class, he was able to give up his cane and his confidence has soared. His daughter can’t believe the change she sees!”
  • Make it visual. Use actual photos of your facilities and programs rather than stock art on your website and social media channels. If prospects explore your site or follow you socially, let them genuinely experience your community by seeing your spaces alive with vibrant activity week after week. They may have seen your fitness center, pool, or aerobic studio during a tour, but you can help them truly feel what your residents experience through your images and videos. Or let your fitness manager to go live for an even more engaging experience. Being able to see their friends and acquaintances thriving in a space they once toured can build stronger connections.

You can’t showcase a program that you don’t have, so start by asking yourself whether your fitness program supports the types of stories you would be proud to share with prospects. If the answer is yes, identify how you can best capture the data, resident triumphs, and images to showcase your community’s culture of vibrant living. If the answer is no, ask yourself what investments or restructuring would be needed to move your community toward that goal. What steps can you take to create a supportive culture of active aging for your residents?

Emily Davenport is the director of fitness management at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport.

To learn more about a comprehensive fitness program that works for your residents and community, check out the resources offered by NIFS Senior Fitness Management: https://wellness.nifs.org/senior-living-fitness-center-management

Note: This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from research. The view expressed here are not necessarily those of the ICAA, we encourage you to make your own health and business decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified professional.

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