It’s Swimsuit Season! Are Your Residents Ready?

Every summer I see the same dreaded messages from advertisements and tabloids:  It’s finally beach season! Try this hot new juicing trend! Look at these perfectly sculpted bikini bodies! Are you ready?

And, all too often, my response is a physical eye roll at the hyperbole and a mental concession to at least try to be healthier—next year. Or the year after that. Sometime in the future, when I have time. I’m busy – things to do, you know, TV shows to record. The solution to this, though, is not simply a new diet (I promise I’ll stick to it this time) or more exercise (four hours a day seems totally doable, right?). Instead, it’s something that everyone has, but often overlooks: community.

It probably won’t surprise people to learn that working towards reasonable health goals in pairs or groups equates to more success than just working towards those same goals by themselves. See also: peer pressure. Residents in apartment complexes have an advantage here as they are surrounded with opportunities to work as a team, as well as to motivate and support each other.

So what are some ways can you use community to encourage healthier residents?

Advertising Exercise-Based Amenities

Many residential complexes offer amenities that can be used to encourage residents to engage in a healthier lifestyle. Have a gym room or some workout equipment that residents can use? Let them know about it. Awareness can be as simple as providing information sheets on how to operate equipment, or providing small training classes. Offer group workout sessions, hosted by a volunteer or lead by a video. Or, if your complex has a pool, have a water-based exercise class.  Create incentives for residents to use these services by offering concessions to those who do. Use MRI’s Residential Management software to assign amenities to residents, and to keep track of the concessions each resident has earned through their participation.

Creating a Community Garden

tape measure-resized-600Similarly, a garden provides excellent exercise opportunities. Pulling weeds may not seem like much, but regular gardening uses all of the major muscle groups and incorporates elements like stretching, repetition, and resistance. If, like many complexes, you don’t have space at each apartment for a garden plot, a community garden near a clubhouse or in a communal area will allow residents to get this exercise while growing flowers and vegetables with their neighbors.

Organizing a Healthy Potluck and Swapping Recipes

What do you do once the vegetables in your community garden are ready to eat? Host a healthy potluck! Traditional potlucks, while delicious, are typically not bastions of health, with their heavy casseroles and mayonnaise-based salads. Instead, focus on dishes prepared with few processed foods, using fresh ingredients from the garden or from other local food sources. Gardeners and their friends and neighbors are much more likely to eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables per day, so a potluck is an excellent way to highlight how. And encourage participants to bring their recipes to share.

Starting a 90 Day Fitness Challenge

Sometimes, the only thing that is more motivating than supporting your friends is showing them up. Tap into this competitive spirit by organizing teams and hosting a 90 day fitness challenge. Try not to focus only on pounds lost, as some exercise programs can cause participants to gain weight as they lose fat and put on muscle, but rather focus on hours or variety of exercises, or amount of healthy meals consumed. Challenge your residents to live more active lives, to bond with their friends and neighbors, and to realize that a healthy lifestyle can mean something as simple as better-fitting clothes or longer play sessions with children or grandchildren—or, if they win the challenge, perhaps a prize or concession.

As for me, I know I’ll be ready for the summer. Forget the advertising and the tabloids. Prioritizing healthy activities and setting reasonable goals can fit into anyone’s schedule, is fun, and tasty to boot.

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