Increasing resident engagement in a fitness program is a high priority for most senior living communities, but getting residents to follow through on a commitment to weekly workouts is easier said than done. Recently, we spoke with Adam, the Wellness Manager for Landis Homes in Lititz, Pennsylvania to find out how they achieved a 316% increase in engagement in just one year.
Q: Your community has recently experienced a tremendous increase in engagement with your fitness program. What are the key factors driving such a dramatic increase?
Adam: The increase is the result of two important initiatives. First, we built a new fitness center and equipped it with HUR SmartTouch machines. Second, we worked very hard to make sure every interested resident in our community was set up in the HUR SmartTouch system with a personalized program and was well oriented to the equipment.
These were significant changes, but they have already proven to be worth it. We had an average of 240 monthly visits to our old fitness center. Today, we see an average of 1000 monthly visits. That’s a 316% increase.
Q: Was increased engagement a primary goal in building the new fitness center and replacing your old equipment?
Adam: Definitely. Our old fitness center was small and in the basement of a residential living building. The equipment was outdated and difficult for many of our residents to use. It was not a welcoming place to be and did little to inspire residents to come in and work out. As a result, some residents left the campus to go exercise at other gyms in the area, and many others weren’t exercising at all.
As a community, we wanted to do a better job of serving the wellness needs of our residents on our own campus and knew that building a new facility and upgrading the exercise equipment was imperative. The previous fitness center was equipped with old Keiser machines that were difficult to use and required manual adjustments. We only had about 8 people in our community actively using the equipment, and a few of those were staff members!
Residents had to dig a paper copy of their fitness plan out of a filing cabinet, keep track of their own progress, remember how to execute each exercise, and manually adjust each machine. This was enough to discourage most of our residents from using the strength equipment.
Q: After opening the new fitness center, did engagement increase right away?
Adam: From the moment we opened the doors of the new wellness center, it was packed. After the HUR machines were installed in June of 2018, we began conducting an average of 6-10 orientations a day. With each orientation, we set residents up with their own program using the HUR SmartTouch system. They were immediately excited to see how the machines not only automatically loaded their personal program, but also adjusted for them like magic!
Nearly every day, residents tell us how much they appreciate the HUR SmartTouch system.
We have residents who had never before set foot in a gym coming in every week to work out. Perhaps most dramatic is the increase in women who are exercising every week. Remember when I mentioned that we only had about 8 people using the old equipment? None of them were women. Now a huge percentage of female residents are working out regularly.
One woman told us that she’d never felt that she belonged in a gym. But now that she’s using HUR equipment she not only feels like she belongs in the fitness center, she looks forward to it!
It’s also been great to see residents who had been working out in off-campus gyms getting their fitness needs met right here inside our community.
Q: It’s one thing to generate initial excitement for a new fitness center but another to encourage consistent engagement. What have you done to get residents coming back consistently over time?
Adam: For the first several months, we allocated almost all of our staff hours to orientations and getting residents set up with a personalized fitness plan inside the HUR SmartTouch system. We spent over an hour with each resident, feeling that if we put the work in at the beginning, it would pay off in the long term.
I knew from personal experience that, if someone doesn’t immediately feel comfortable with the gym and the equipment, they won’t come back. If they feel like they won’t be able to set everything up or make the right adjustments to the equipment on their own, they are unlikely to even try. Many of our residents expressed how confident they felt about using HUR equipment from the start and that they felt good about coming back on their own.
We noticed some residents seemed excited about the equipment in the initial orientation, but weren’t coming back on their own. We suspected that those residents might need more one-on-one time with a staff member. So, we set up scheduled times where residents know that a staff member will be available in the fitness center to answer their questions, give them a refresher on how to use the HUR SmartTouch system, or make adjustments to their workout routine. This made a huge difference, helping even more of our residents feel comfortable and confident about using the equipment on their own.
Another thing that has supported long-term engagement is the data provided through the HUR SmartTouch system. Recently, a resident told us that she didn’t feel like she was making any progress with her workouts. We pulled up her reports and she could immediately see substantial improvement. Because the equipment had been making gradual, small automatic increases in resistance, without even realizing it, she had been getting stronger. Having that kind of data at our fingertips has been fundamental to supporting the motivation of our residents to stick with their program.
Q: Has the new fitness center and exercise equipment had an impact on the overall growth of your community?
Adam: Absolutely. Not only has the new fitness center and equipment increased resident satisfaction, it’s made our community much more attractive to new residents. We have a lot of retirement communities in our area, many of them offering similar services and quality of care. Having the new fitness center equipped with HUR machines has really set us apart. It’s especially attractive to many of the younger seniors who are just starting to think about moving into a retirement community.