Meet Shannon, the Wellness Director at Presbyterian Village North in Dallas, Texas. Shannon has successfully grown the community’s fitness program from 1 full-time staff member offering 5 classes a week to 7 full-time staff members offering 80 classes a week without increasing her budget from the general operating fund. She did this by creating a collaborative wellness program that generates revenue through personal training. Through working hard to create exceptional value, the program now supports 100% of the community’s entire fitness program.
We sat down with Shannon to talk about their decision to offer personal training for a fee and how the funds generated from the GET FIT program are being used to create one of the most robust fitness programs in senior living.
Q: Can you tell us more about the GET FIT program and why you decided to charge an extra fee to participate?
SHANNON: GET FIT is a personal training program for which we charge our residents $20 for 30 minute sessions and $40 for 60 minute sessions. When we launched the program, we knew that if we were going to grow our wellness program and add additional staff, we had to figure out a way to be a revenue-generating part of the community. So, we set out to create a program that would be so valuable it would make the extra fee almost inconsequential.
The program has been a huge success, helping us hire new staff members and grow our wellness program to an extent that would have been impossible without those additional funds.
Q: What are some of the things you’ve done to make the GET FIT program so valuable?
SHANNON: From the start, I knew that I needed to prove the financial viability of the program, and at the time, one of the biggest gaps that we had in wellness care was in the process of discharging residents from therapy. Residents were being sent home with a wellness plan created by their therapist, but they were largely on their own to carry it out.
We realized that bridging this gap with personal training was something that our residents and their families might find extremely valuable and be willing to pay an extra fee for. But, we knew that the recommendation into the GET FIT program needed to come from the therapists themselves. So, our first objective was to get buy-in from the therapists.
I worked hard to build a relationship with our therapy team and prove to them that recommending the GET FIT program was the best thing they could do for their patients at discharge. As our therapists saw the value of the program, I started working with them to create systems that would make transitioning from therapy into the GET FIT program a normal process.
For example, we created tools that support therapists in compiling recommendations for each patient’s GET FIT program. We also have the wellness staff member who will be working with that patient follow the therapist through the final therapy session. Our therapists make sure that the wellness staff understands each patient’s GET FIT program so that the transition is as smooth and seamless as possible.
Residents and their families understand that the therapist has created their GET FIT program and trained their personal trainer. That holds a lot of weight.
One of the key things I want to mention is that our therapists recommend the GET FIT program not because they have to, but because they want to. They believe in the program and recommend it to their patients’ families because they know it’s the best thing for them. This is crucial. As a family member, when your loved one’s therapist says, “This is the best thing you can do for them”, you listen.
“I absolutely love using the HUR Smart Technology with my personal training clients. I can easily track metrics and adjust programs as needed to provide a quality, custom workout for each individual. The residents love seeing how they progress as well.
~Deana Lisenby, Lifestyle Fitness Manager at Presbyterian Village North
Q: Would you tell me a bit more about how you are using the funds generated through the GET FIT program to grow the wellness program for the entire community?
SHANNON: The GET FIT program currently pays for my entire wellness staff and all our fitness classes. From the start, we structured it in a way that would allow our entire wellness program to grow alongside the GET FIT program.
I was the first person to take on paid personal training clients. When my caseload was full, I went to our management team and showed them actual numbers for how the GET FIT program was generating enough revenue to justify hiring another staff member. That’s the structure we’ve continued to follow.
As the GET FIT program grows, it generates the funding to hire new wellness staff members. Some of those staff members are devoted to personal training and the rest run the programs that make up the whole of our wellness program.
When I first started 14 years ago, we only had one small fitness room and were offering 5 classes a week. Today, we offer 80 classes a week and have 7 full-time staff members.
When people ask me how we were able to create such a robust program, I tell them that it was about working hard to get buy-in from our management team. As a nonprofit, staffing is our biggest cost. I knew that generating enough revenue to cover the cost of my staff was the key to growing the program.
On average, communities our size can support 2 wellness staff members. We have 7 because of the GET FIT program.
“The HUR strength line is excellent for working specific muscle groups. The HUR Smart Technology is very user friendly, and it makes for a more efficient workout compared to using traditional weight machines.”
~ John Birkner, resident at Presbyterian Village North
Q: What role does the HUR equipment play in the GET FIT program?
SHANNON: The HUR Smart Technology is one of the things that makes the transition from therapy to personal training so seamless. Therapists add strength training recommendations right into the HUR system for each of their patients. After discharge, our residents and their personal trainers simply swipe their cards at each machine and know that they are following the program created by their therapist.
Perhaps even more importantly, HUR equipment is easy to use and not intimidating to our residents. It takes the fear out of strength training. A lot of our residents haven’t done a day of strength training in their life and feel intimidated at the very thought. But once they see how easy the equipment is to use – how it automatically adjusts to them and how the touch screen guides them through their program – they lose their fear of strength training completely and embrace it.
Another thing I want to mention about HUR equipment is that at Presbyterian Village North, we know that to grow as a community and remain competitive, health and wellness must be at the core of everything we do. There is no doubt that we are growing and new residents are moving in because of the fitness and social aspects of life in this community, and our HUR equipment is an important part of that. Prospective residents want these types of amenities, and if you don’t have them, they’ll skip right past you.