Kurt Soller at Bloomberg Businessweek has drawn a line in the sand. He does not think you should exercise with your coworkers, and I applaud his bold stance:
There’s a reason business outings often come with booze. Socializing with co-workers and clients is already awkward. How could it possibly be a good idea to add in a public changing room, spandex, and the occasional grunt? “You spend all this time cultivating professional relationships, and then they see you at your most vulnerable,” says Ariel Moses, a communications executive, recalling a particularly difficult Bar Method class she took with two work contacts. “They’re not judgmental, at all, but I was judging myself more.”
At least once a month, an e-mail arrives from a business acquaintance who wants to “catch up” over the latest trendy fitness craze. I either ignore these requests or lie and say I’ve decided to quit exercise cold turkey. A drink? Fine. A workout? Not happening.
This reminds me of my last job’s short-lived romance with free office yoga.
When someone floated the idea at our company-wide meeting, I laughed out loud, thinking it was a joke (we were always weary of coming off too “corporate”) then quickly covered my mouth when I realized the idea was sincere. Maybe out of guilt, I came around to the idea and became a willing participant. After all, I do love yoga and I do love not-paying for things, plus I could never find yoga classes that fit my work schedule, so why wouldn’t I take advantage of the opportunity and show up to work at 9:30 instead of 10:30 — a struggle, admittedly but still later than most decent human beings anyway, right?
I borrowed a mat from the guest teacher and battled my way through wearing leggings and sweating in front of my coworkers by reminding myself over and over that no one was looking at me and that everyone was more concerned with themselves. This is probably true and a good life lesson but I never really came to believe it, especially when my boobs threatened to fall out of my sports bra during chaturanga. When class was moved from an abandoned basement to the common area off of the kitchen, things got dire. Non-yogi coworkers would trickle in around 10 a.m. and weave between our twists and bends to get to the coffeemaker, laughing nervously and holding onto their messenger bags like body shields.
The day our CEO joined class a little late and I found myself trying not to look over at him as we did our downward dogs was the same day I accidentally made upside-down eye contact with another boss of mine on his way to the fridge. He was in search of a Greek yogurt and I was doing a backbend, which made it really hard to do the necessary “isn’t this awkward” shrug-and-laugh. I decided then, hanging upside-down, praying no body parts were unduly exposed, that there are some things you do not need to do at the office, and bending over with your ass in the air while people you work for whisper-apologize for grinding coffee beans is one of them.