THE SOCIAL SWEAT WORK
If you want to get ahead, hold your next client meeting in the weights room, not the boardroom: sweatworking is the hot new way to climb the career ladder. And that means a fresh take on activewear
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It takes an hour of brisk exercise to offset eight hours hunched over a desk
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, let’s face it, entirely unrelated). Now, it’s most likely because you’re ‘sweatworking’. Probably.
“Sweatworking is about combining your professional meetings with your workouts, to the benefit of both,” explains Steven Ward, CEO of non-profit fitness lobby Ukactive. “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 Green Gym. For numbersdriven City investors and Silicon Valley venture capitalists alike, 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, the rise could be seen as a direct consequence of time crunch. But it’s also down to the tightening of expense accounts that no longer stretch to three-martini lunches (a £20 spin class seems 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.
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 unshakeable 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 is where the new power resides.