Mike Rucker

Mike Rucker
Michael Rucker’s passion is to help organizations positively develop the well-being of their employees. When Mike is not hard at work helping businesses improve their workplace wellness program, you can find him blogging about the topic of corporate wellness and digital health for Active Wellness, his personal blog and for About Health.

Recent Posts

How to Incorporate New Health Trends into Your Fitness Center

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 29, 2016 1:45:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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The fitness world is saturated with new trends in exercise, diet, and lifestyle. Whether to combat boredom from a repetitive regimen or take advantage of the latest scientific knowledge regarding fitness, people of all ages are seeking new ways to stay in shape. By keeping a fingerprint on trends relevant to your clientele, using technology, and monitoring feedback, you can ensure that your fitness center is involved with the trends that will increase your clients' engagement.

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5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Fitness Center Equipment

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 22, 2016 1:38:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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Selecting the right workout equipment to fill your fitness center is a daunting task. There's a large cost and time component and it is hard to make large changes once your facility is already open. There are a few factors you can keep in mind to help ensure you make a lasting decision that benefits your health and fitness center now and down the road. You must think about the overall cost of the equipment, the quality of the equipment, and the amount of pieces your club will require. You must also analyze the layout of your center, the variety of equipment, and consider the needs of your members. On top of it all, you must decide how the equipment will be delivered, how it will be installed at your facility, and how future maintenance needs will be addressed.

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How Much Space is Needed for a Fitness Center?

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 15, 2016 1:30:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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The fitness center is one of the most important and salable amenities in a residential or community development. Whether it is meant to attract new tenants, or simply satisfy the needs of current community members, constructing a fitness center is about meeting the needs of a wide variety of people at every fitness level.

Creating a community fitness center must focus on attracting your residents and satisfying their exercise and social needs.

Of the many questions that you may face as you plan your community residence, none are more important than those regarding square footage. Knowing how much room is enough for particular parts of the development is vital, and an error of too much or too little could result in loss of construction time, loss of clientele and, perhaps most important, loss of money.

So before you begin to develop a fitness center in your community, you need to answer this question: how much space is needed for a fitness center?

Consider the Size of the Community

The number of residents in your community comes into play when planning the size of a fitness center. You want to have a space large enough to serve a good number of the residents at one time, while maintaining fire safety regulations. This kind of projection may be difficult, but consulting with a fitness management company such as Active Wellness will help to put this issue in perspective.

Active Wellness has the data available to assist you in calculating projected usage based on maximum occupancy in your community, as well calculating what the maximum number of simultaneous users could be. These numbers will help you not only to build a fitness center that is the right size, but also to choose the right types and amounts of equipment to put in. It is also necessary information when it comes to planning out your budget for the build.

Fitness Footage

Every fitness center is different, based on the needs of the community residents and the community developers plans. A basic fitness center, including rooms free weights, treadmills, stationary bicycles and the like, as well as male and female toilets, showers, and lockers, can fit into as little as 6,000 square feet. This may seem very small, the bare minimum for a quality fitness center, but for a small residential community it is an ideal size.

Consider Safety in the Space

When planning out a fitness space, there are certain safety considerations regarding equipment that must factor into the design. Potentially dangerous machines activities, such as cardiovascular machines or climbing walls, should be in view of anyone sitting at the lobby area, also called the control desk. This visual requirement will define the interior space, so it is very important to keep in mind as you plan.

The space's design should take into account safe usage of the major equipment.

Fitness management companies like Active Wellness have plenty of experience, not only in the planning and developing stages, but also in "turn-key" management of the fitness program itself. They can offer valuable advice and suggestions on the arrangement of the interior of the fitness center, and this knowledge will be useful as the design is drafted.

Designing a fitness center for your residential community begins with the size of the space. Understanding your residents' needs, your budgetary limits, and having the assistance of Active Wellness fitness management will prepare you to create a wonderful space for your residents geared toward their health, wellness and comfort.
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3 Wellness Ideas That'll Work at the Office

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 8, 2016 2:00:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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When you embark on an effort to improve the health of your workplace, you face the challenge of finding ways to implement wellness initiatives that are both practical in the workplace and attractive enough to your employees to get them involved. Finding ways to promote good health that aren't disruptive and don't come across as lecturing your employees about healthy habits can be a delicate balancing act, but it can be done. Take a look at a few wellness ideas that will work in your workplace.

Make Healthy Food Available and Appealing

Who could resist this inviting spread in the break room?

Let's face it - workplace eating habits are not always the best. It's way too easy to order in pizza or Chinese food, or to hit the junk-filled snack machines in the break room when you're in a hurry. Make it just as easy to grab something healthy by filling the break room fridge and pantry with bottled water, yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, granola, and other healthy munchies.

Worried about the cost of providing free healthy food to a building full of hungry workers? There are ways to make it more affordable. Buy in bulk and let employees pay the wholesale price for the snacks they eat - that way, a bottle of water from the break room fridge will be significantly more affordable than a 20-ounce bottle of soda from the machine. You can also start an on-site garden and have interested employees take turns tending it during their breaks. Seeds are far less expensive than produce, and it's not hard to grow things like lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and carrots. That way, your employees will always have the components of a salad on hand.

Have Fun Getting Physical

Paintball is a fun and physical way for coworkers to connect.

Nobody wants to come to work and do calisthenics on top of their regular work duties. If you want to encourage employees to move more, it's not enough to just tell them they should, and it's certainly not enough to suggest that they do lunges or sit-ups. You need to make it fun or offer them something they aren't getting elsewhere, so that they want to participate.

Consider organizing a weekend paintball tournament - it's part exercise, part team-building activity. Organize a softball or kickball team and get together with another local business for a weekly game. Bring in a professional trainer to give expert tips and pointers on an individual basis so that employees can work on their own with health advice that meets their personal needs.

Get Involved in Charity Challenges

There is a reason why charity challenges are all the rage - most people really want to find accessible ways to do something good for their community or a cause that they care about. Instead of posting a status on their social media pages or making videos of themselves dumping ice on their heads, get your employees involved in walks or marathons for causes that your company and your employees support.

You can even create your own challenges. Issue pedometers to your employees, and offer to donate money to a cause if they clock over a certain amount of steps, collectively, within a month. These kinds of collective challenges are fun, because they allow everyone to participate at their own level. If one employee can only walk an additional 500 steps in a month and another employee walks 5000 steps more than usual, they've still both made contributions to the collective effort.

Finding ways to encourage your employees to get fit can be tricky, but when you do it right, you can have a big impact. Your employees spend a large chunk of their waking hours at work, and workplace attitudes toward fitness can have great influence on their lives. To find out more about making your workplace a healthier place, contact us.

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So You're Building a Fitness Center: Where Do You Start?

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 1, 2016 2:00:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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A community fitness center can be a great idea. It can attract new people to your community and provide residents with a healthy outlet for entertainment and social interaction. But once you've determined that a fitness center is the right way to improve and add value to your community, where do you go from there? Planning and designing a quality fitness center is no small feat, and if you've never tackled anything like this before, it's hard to know where to start. Take a look at some ideas that can help you come up with the right vision for your fitness center.

Limit Liability

Make sure you allow all the space needed to use the equipment properly.

A fitness center that isn't safe isn't healthy for its users or for its management. One of the first things that you need to consider when planning a fitness center is how you're going to make it a safe place to exercise so that your members can work out without fear and you are protected from liability.

With this in mind, proper layout is paramount when it comes to ensuring safety. It's a bad idea to jam equipment into a space that's too small - when you do this, you limit the functionality of your machines and equipment and you risk obstructed pathways that can pose a hazard. You're better off with fewer machines than with an overcrowded space. Group similar equipment together to create a safer, more functional, and easier to use space.

You'll need to make sure that the space can support dedicated electrical outlets for each piece of equipment, and that you'll have the ability to hide the cords. You should also consider how you're going to ensure that the light from the windows doesn't create a glare that can impede a user's ability to use the machines properly. Nonslip floors and adequate lighting should also be a priority.

Encourage Socialization

Classes or small groups can provide your facility with a social element.

One of the current trends in today's gyms and fitness centers is an increasingly social atmosphere. If you want your fitness center to appeal to your residents, you'll need to provide similar opportunities for socialization at your own center.

This may mean that you need a larger lobby with seating so that members can meet or interact, or you may want to make locker room spaces more spa-like and spacious, instead of utilitarian. Providing classes or allowing small groups to book all or part of the center for planned, specialized activities can help give the message that your fitness center is a place where people can gather, not just a place for individuals on their own.

Plan For the Future

You may not be able to realize all of your visions for your fitness center from the moment you open. In some cases, it makes more sense to start small, and improve and add to the center as time goes on and your traffic increases.

However, even if you're going to operate in a more limited capacity at first, make sure that you plan for the future when choosing your location. You need a place that will accommodate growth when the time comes.

Don't hesitate to consult the fitness industry experts for help in planning and designing the best possible facility for your community. It's well worth it to ensure that your facility is safe, successful, and on track for a bright future. For more information, contact us today.

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3 Ways to Hire the Best Employees for Your Fitness Center

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 25, 2016 1:00:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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If you want to run a successful fitness center, hiring the right employees is a key aspect of attracting and keeping clients. It doesn't matter how aesthetically pleasing your workout space is or how many machines you can offer - if people don't like and trust your staff, they won't stay. Here are some tips that can help you find and hire the best employees for your fitness center.

Seek Out Special Skills

Look for job candidates who have already demonstrated leadership skills.

Experience is good to have in any field, so you should look for people who have it. But go beyond just looking for anyone who's worked in a fitness center before. Look out for applicants who have run a weekly yoga class or spin class, for example. Even if you aren't planning on holding classes right now, you might want to in the future, and having someone on hand who has done it before will be helpful. Furthermore, when you choose to hire people who were leaders in their previous positions, you can feel confident that they'll take initiative and assume leadership roles while working for you.

Spell Out What You're Looking For

Developing a job description that spells out exactly what you're looking for in an employee is a vital part of attracting applicants who qualify for the job. If you're too vague, you'll end up wasting time interviewing people who aren't right for the job.

In order to write a great job description, you need to know exactly what it is that you're looking for. If you're looking to expand your staff or replace an employee that's leaving, take a good look at your current staff to see what makes them great at their jobs. Is it their people skills? Their energy? Their knowledge on fitness-related topics, like nutrition and supplements? Whatever is making your current employees effective is something that you'll want to look for in new employees.

Consider Team Interviews

Bring your best employees into the interview process.

Instead of conducting new hire interviews alone or having an HR employee do it, consider conducting team interviews with some of your top current employees. There are a few reasons why this is a good idea. Fitness center work is inherently social - your employees are going to be working with people every day. This will give you a chance to see how the candidate reacts to a group of people they don't know. Someone who's painfully shy when confronted with a group of strangers is probably not going to be an effective fitness center employee, no matter how fit or knowledgeable they are.

This will also give you a chance to see how the candidate meshes with the team that you already have in place. Your current employees may have questions for the candidate or input on their performance in the interview that you never would have thought of. Since they're the ones who are going to have to work closely with the next person that you hire, that input is valuable.

Hiring is one of the most important aspects of running a successful fitness center, so it's important to get it right. If you're looking for expert advice and assistance when it comes to building a great fitness center, contact us for more information.
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What's New in Fitness Equipment?

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 11, 2016 1:00:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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For community planners and developers, the fitness center has become one of the key selling points when marketing to prospective residents. Keeping your facility current, with the latest technology and equipment, means keeping abreast of the market and up-to-date on the latest developments with an eye toward your center's design and projected usage. So, what's new?

Training Systems

All in one "playgrounds for adults" have become popular additions to fitness centers, allowing users to go from one exercise to the next with ease. The SYNRGY360 is the latest step in evolution for training systems, offering a functional training hub that also connects up to other exercise jungles within the brand, offering limitless potential to suit your fitness center design and user needs.

Burning Calories with Infrared

Infrared saunas have become a workout environment, offering space for hot yoga and other high-temperature fitness programs.

Alternative wellness therapies are becoming extremely popular in larger gyms and fitness centers, and innovative technologies are making it possible to bring these same types of equipment to smaller venues. Infrared saunas are the latest example of proven old methods of health and wellness blending together with modern technology. Planet Beach's Hot Box Detox is a three-person sauna unit that uses isometric pressure coupled with sauna temperatures to flush toxins from the body as you work out. Ideal for yoga or similar low-impact fitness programs, the infrared sauna comes with an accompanying spa program, an easy way to integrate spa sensibilities into your residential fitness center.

Shake it Fast and Healthy

Everyone wants to get fit fast, and vibration technology makes it possible. The Power Plate is one of the latest examples, an exercise platform that vibrates up to 50 times per second. The slight imbalance created by the vibration causes your muscles to react in particular ways, making each movement, each exercise more effective. The latest model, the Power Plate pro7, features a touchscreen that takes users through a variety of effective exercises, and even features resistance cables to work out the arms and upper body. Vibration machines like the Power Plate are ideal for a small fitness center, as they offer a variety of health benefits but take up very little space.

Climbing The Tower of Fitness

Another self-contained fitness equipment option covers the need for solid cardio machines while taking up as little space as possible. The Power Tower, by Synergy Air Fitness, satisfy the need for a versatile cardio workout in minimal space. Offering aerobic and strength workouts, the machine utilizes a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) so switching workouts is as easy as shifting a gearing handle. In addition, the Power Tower workouts help increase metabolism, and improve overall body tone and coordination.

Multi-use equipment has become more popular for smaller fitness center, and technology has made them extremely versatile.

A large number of variables go into planning your residential community's fitness center, chief among them finding ways to utilize the space effectively and provide your residents with the workout opportunities they desire. The latest fitness equipment options, and the constant evolution of new technologies, offer you plenty of ideas for outfitting your fitness center, making it easy and appealing to use.

For more information about what Active Wellness can do for you and your new residential or commercial fitness center, including how to include the latest technology and equipment, please contact us.

Author Bio:
Gabriella Messina is an author who has written online content on a variety of subjects, including fitness center design, fitness education, massage therapy, and general health and wellness topics.

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3 Fitness Center Design Trends for 2016

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 4, 2016 1:30:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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If you're in the planning stages of creating a new fitness center for your community, it's a good idea to have a handle on some of the different design options out there. There are a variety of ways to design a fitness center, and you'll need to do some research on the pros and cons to decide which one is right for your facility. You also need to have an idea of what trends are currently gaining in popularity, so that you can choose one that will attract users to your facility and keep them coming back. Take a look at some of the fitness center design trends that are bound to be hot in 2016.

Smart Technology Integration

Make it easy for your members to use their devices in their fitness routines.

There really is an app for everything these days, and that includes the fitness world. From apps that track and analyze everything from movements and workout times to calories consumed and burned, to apps that will give you the perfect soundtrack for your next workout, fitness buffs are using smart technology to get the most out of their workouts, and you need to be prepared for that.

In 2016, you will be expected to offer more than just free WiFi. At a minimum, you'll want to have charging stations for mobile devices. However, you may be interested in going further - exercise machines with screens, smart wristbands that track activity on the machine's and sync that data with the wearer's cell phone, your own apps. It may be expensive, but if you can afford to throw in some technological extras, it's liable to increase interest in your facility.

More Space

Make sure that your members have plenty of room to spread out.

The more spacious your facility, the better. Fitness center members are not interested in navigating small spaces jammed with too many machines, and they expect to see plenty of floor space for everything from lifting to yoga.

Of course, not every fitness center can be huge, but it doesn't have to be. If you're working with space constraints, consider narrowing your focus. Boutique facilities that focus just on one or two types of exercise are also becoming more popular. So popular, in fact, that many people maintain two memberships - one membership at a large gym for the variety of amenities, and one at a small facility that focuses on one thing - like spinning, for example - and takes a unique approach to that one thing.

So, if you don't have room to spread, try picking out a few areas of focus that your facility can excel at. That way, you can maximize the space that you do have instead of trying to cram too much into too small a space.

Stylish Interior Design

Members don't want to go to their fitness center and stare at blank walls or plain floors while they work out anymore. Instead, lobbies of fitness facilities are beginning to resemble upscale hotel lobbies, and workout spaces are characterized by bold colors and good lighting.

The aesthetics of your fitness center convey an instant message to anyone who walks through the door, so be sure that yours are sending the message that you intend. An aesthetically pleasing fitness center design doesn't have to cost a fortune, but you may have to employ some creativity to save money while making a statement.

To ensure the success of your facility, get help from the experts in the industry when putting your fitness center design together. For more details, contact us today.

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4 Corporate Health Solutions for Midsize Companies

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 28, 2015 1:00:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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In previous years, many companies did not realize the importance of workplace health and wellness programs in reducing time off due to sickness, increasing employee productivity, and increasing team morale. At work, health, happiness, and productivity are all related, and just recently there has been a larger focus on health, especially for employees that spend an extended amount of time in the workplace. A few ways your midsize company can increase health awareness and promote the idea of wellness is by giving your employees healthier food options, offering on-site medical/health benefits, giving encouragement and incentives for employees to reach their health goals, and promoting productivity by de-stressing.

Say "No" to Junk Food

When your employees are working and hunger strikes, they will reach for whatever is in front of them. Vending machines are well known for containing all kinds of unhealthy snacks that are loaded with sugar and trans fat. In the journey for a healthier lifestyle at work, say so long to the junk food and replace these unhealthy treats with healthier vending machine and cafe options. Also, make sure to have water coolers readily available so employees can avoid a stop at the soda machine.

Select the healthier option when hunger sets in. Photo Credit: Natasia Causse

On-site Medical Health

Along with diversifying and adding healthier food options, provide frequent (and free) preventative health screenings for employees. This can help them to better understand their own health and take measures to live a healthier lifestyle. When your employee is healthier, they miss work less. Another way is to bring vaccinations and flu shots to the workplace. Employees will see that they are cared for and as a return in investment for the company, they are less likely to miss work due to sickness.

Providing preventative care can go a long way. Photo Credit: Pan American Health Org

Encouragement and Incentives

It is important to have a supportive company culture, even when it comes to health and wellness goals. Employee participation and engagement can be encouraged by group fitness challenges/competitions. Set up a company softball, kickball, or other team activity that would promote physical activity and fun. Offer incentives and prizes to the winners of the competitions. You can also encourage employees to share their fitness goals with one another for added accountability.

Take Care of the Mind

Health isn't limited solely to nutrition and exercise. Work, for many, is like a second home, and when employees spend so much time at work, it is also important to consider mental health. Studies show that employees who are over-stressed in the workplace have lower levels of productivity and are most likely to skip out on work completely1. There are different methods to ensure employees get "mental rest", such as taking frequent breaks, incorporating areas in the workspace that are designated to resting and relaxing, and by offering stress reduction workshops.

There are many corporate health solutions that provide cost-effective ways to decrease time off due to illness, increase productivity, and boost morale. When a healthy lifestyle is encouraged in the workplace, not only will the employees benefit, but so will the company as a whole.

Feel free to contact us to see how Active Wellness can assist your company in implementing holistic health solutions.

1. Higginbottom, Karen. "Workplace Stress Leads to Less Productive Employees". Forbes Magazine. 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2015

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How to Measure the Added Value of a Residential Fitness Center

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 21, 2015 1:00:00 PM / by Mike Rucker

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When you are expanding your offerings and amenities for condo owners or renters in your apartment complex with an onsite fitness center, you'll need a way to measure the overall value of the development and management of the fitness center. Many residents may consider moving in or staying at your venue for the long-term based solely on resident amenities such as a fitness center, swimming pool, clubhouse, and similar privileges.

Here are some of the most effective ways to measure the added value of a residential fitness center:

Improved Standard of Living

Consider how many residents are interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and would rather work out near their home instead of driving or walking to a nearby gym. You can promote a higher standard of living with an onsite fitness center reserved exclusively for residents and community members. This positions your property as a wellness-oriented property and can attract more residents that want to live a healthy lifestyle.

Promote a higher standard of living with an onsite fitness center.

You could also promote the value of saving money on the cost of a gym membership each year for budget-conscious residents - Statistic Brain Institute reports the average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58 and $39 of that investment goes to waste from underutilization. Having access to an onsite fitness center could help residents save money, making your property a more attractive choice to maintain a high standard of living.

Increase the value of your property with a fitness center amenity.

Overall Property Value Increase

You may be able to increase the value of your property for a future sale or purchase by investors by adding a coveted amenity such as a residential fitness center. Having a resort-style pool, fitness center, activities room, and a business center can increase the value of your property because they can attract more high-profile residents looking for luxury amenities they would find at a hotel. As long as you can account for fitness center management costs, including repairs, upgrades, and general upkeep, having a fully-equipped fitness center onsite can make the property more attractive to both residents and investors.

Aesthetic Appeal

You may be able to attract more residents with an aesthetically-pleasing property or building floor plan. According to this case study from Precor for The Meadows Apartment Homes in Culver City, CA, property managers know that prospective residents tour 5 to 7 properties before making a decision and estimate that more than 80 percent of visitors have an interest in pool and fitness facilities at the property.

Adding an onsite fitness center to your apartment complex or condo community may help to increase the aesthetics of the space, making it a more attractive destination for both prospective residents existing residents who are considering extending their stay.

Building and maintaining a residential fitness center at your property offers numerous benefits to both residents and investors. A fitness center can improve the quality of life at your property and also increase the value of your property. Consider all of the residual benefits and added value a residential fitness center can have at your condo community or apartment complex.

Contact us today and let Active Wellness help you build a top-notch fitness center for your community!

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