Update on today's talks with the Cabinet Office
How To Upgrade Today’s Office Meetings With Sweatworking
Photography: Luke Kirwan
As summer wanes, it's time to get back to the nitty-gritty of the working year. But the daily grind doesn't always mean being stuck in a stifling office.
We've got a novel way of transforming your meetings. Swap the boardroom for the watt-bike and up both your life expectancy and professional stock with sweatworking. Here's how.
It used to be that if you were perspiring profusely in a meeting, it was because you’d either failed to sufficiently prepare or you were stinkingly hungover (not necessarily mutually exclusive, or entirely unrelated). Now, it’s because you’re “sweatworking”. Probably.
“Sweatworking is about combining your work meetings with your workouts, to the benefit of both,” explains Steven Ward, CEO of non-profit fitness lobby UK Active. “It’s an efficient way to get some exercise while developing a greater rapport with clients and colleagues.” Dubious? Don't be. Sweatworking is a bona fide thing, and yes, real people are actually doing it. Global financial giant PWC is team-building at boutique studio 1Rebel, while RBS is getting fresh air with GreenGym. For numbers-driven City investors and Silicon Valley venture capitalists, cycling is “the new golf”.
Inevitably, the practice originated in New York, the city that never puts its phone on sleep. And like most Stateside trends, it’s migrating over here. “We’ve certainly seen a considerable uptick in members sweatworking,” confirms Alex Shepherd, manager of the upwardly mobile body temple, Equinox, in London’s Kensington.
But why? Well, its rise could be seen as a direct consequence of time crunch. But it's also down to the tightening of expense budgets that no longer stretch to three-martini lunches. (A £20 spin class is comparatively cheap.) Then there’s the growing understanding that eating and drinking like a Mad Man is neither sustainable nor advisable for body or career. And when you consider the rise of remote working, for which gyms are increasingly catering with cafes, juice bars and even lounges, the idea doesn't sound so far-fetched.
(Related: Find the best suit for networking outside the gym)
Besides, sweatworking precipitates benefits beyond the obvious. Steve Jobs would take walking meetings to promote creativity and foster a sense of collaboration (literally heading in the same direction). Stepping up the pace only fast-tracks such feelings of intimacy, and not just in the changing rooms. A Barry’s Bootcamp trip could even result in “traumatic bonding”: a shared painful experience that forges far stronger connections than LinkedIn. And it’s an unshakable excuse to bake fitness into your schedule.
In short, sweatworking works - often unexpectedly so. “One member landed a voiceover job by talking in the steam room,” says Shepherd. “He was overheard by a casting director, they had a more formal discussion in the lounge and he was hired there and then.” Gordon Gekko had it that lunch is for wimps. But lunchtime workouts? That's where the new power lies.
The golden rules of mixing business with athleisure
Work hard, play soft
“Do make sure your choice of exercise is appropriate for everyone’s fitness level,” says UK Active’s Ward. Spin classes can be a good option as you can surreptitiously lower your bike’s resistance: “But if you don’t think your ageing investor has the stomach for a spin class, maybe suggest a walk in the park.”
Stay behind after
“Don’t try and sweatwork during a class,” says Equinox’s Shepherd. “It’ll be distracting to others, and unproductive for you.” Instead, factor in a post-workout coffee in the lounge, or forgo the class altogether and hop on next-door cardio machines: “You can easily control the pace and hold a conversation.”
“Do make an effort as you would for a normal meeting,” says Shepherd. Stock up on some tasteful, not-too-tight gymwear and save the sleeveless tops for Friday evening. Yes, you might even lift, but effective sweatworking is about collaborating, not dick measuring. Forget this and you'll be the biggest one.
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