By Jennifer MitchellContent provided by Happy hour networking is so 2011. The latest trend: sweatworking. Instead of meeting over lunch or drinks, business contacts meet at an exercise class. For working people, the marriage of talking shop while you burn calories speaks to the desire for integrating work with healthy habits.
This is how it works. You invite a colleague or contact to join you in an exercise class, like spinning or yoga, and arrange to get in a great workout while conversing before and after class.
Julie Gilbert Newrai, founder and CEO of strategic consultants Wolf Means Business and former senior vice president at Best Buy, is an early trendsetter of sweatworking. She finds networking over workouts to be beneficial, she says, "because first, I am more apt to get it done and second, you're exposing people to one of your loves and bringing them into your environment. The third benefit is, when you sweat with people, you form really good relationships with them."
Bringing work into workouts can show a sense of passion and dedication to both, says Kelly Miyamoto, founder and owner of Minneapolis-based workout club THE FIRM. And she observes another benefit: "More productive decisions are made without alcohol. That's why it is trending. It's saying, let's have a more productive work environment without food or alcohol."
Another approach to sweatworking is to apply it to team building. A design group recently held such a class at THE FIRM and met afterward for a brainstorming session and lunch.
"It was a healthy way for the company to focus," says Miyamoto, who arranged for the group to have a special class scheduled just for them.
Of course, sweatworking can have pitfalls. One is differing fitness levels. If you ask someone to join you in a workout session and they have not exercised in a while, it's best to choose a class that suits all fitness levels. Spinning, for example, allows people to comfortably exercise at their pace. A class like yoga has the benefit of being low-impact and allows for modifications in the poses. Zumba, the new hot dance workout, offers easy-to-follow Latin-influenced dance moves and is also a low-impact choice.
Another consideration is the etiquette of bringing a client to the gym. When spandex and sweat are involved, what is the proper way to deal with the atmosphere? "More communication up front is better," says Newrai, who likes to remind people to bring a water bottle and recommends attire they would be most comfortable in. "I get there in advance and I get them a bike and make sure it is all set to go. It's just being a good hostess really."
For her own workout attire, Newrai says she doesn't wear anything too revealing and focuses on comfort. She says she doesn't feel self-conscious because she sees exercising with team members and clients as a chance to have some fun and bring healthy energy into the work arena.
"We're going to crank it up and have a blast, we're going to be high-fiving during class, you know?" she says.
The next time you're headed to happy hour, quietly lamenting that you're missing your workout again, you might consider recommending the gym as your next meeting place.
Before you try sweatworking:
- Run the idea past your human resources department and make sure it is an acceptable practice
- Be considerate when inviting someone for a workout activity; there may be people who are uncomfortable and/or unable to participate
- Some people may need medical clearance before engaging in physical activity
- Be modest. Stay conscious of how you dress and cover up
- Be a good host/hostess and help make your guest's workout experience a positive one
If going for a workout is not appealing to your client or colleague try brainstorming another activity that will keep you engaged in a healthy way.
View the original Sweatwork vs. Network article on myOptumHealth.com