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Add Workouts INTO Your Work

Sarah Coppinger
photos by the wong lens

Think about the worst days you’ve had at your place of work. The stress, the deadlines, the oversights, the complaints… the nonstop, high-stress environment that a majority of young urban professionals deal with on a regular basis. On these worst-of days, time feels like a luxury. It gets sucked up by the neverending to-do list and before you know it, you’re home melting into the couch wondering how you even got there. What’s for dinner? Who cares. Just give me that box of Cheez-its.

That’s a worst case scenario, for sure. So what’s the best day look like?

Studies are (subtly) screaming at us that your best day, without a doubt, involves a hard-earned sweat. In fact, your best day considers your workout a vital part of your actual workday.

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For some of us, it’s tough to even imagine that sentence. We can’t envision how, or when, we would even fit a workout into our typical workday, when so many of us feel bogged down by our demanding schedules and responsibilities. How many times have you heard someone (or yourself) say, “I wish I had the time to exercise,” or, “If only there were more hours in a day”?

Let’s go back to the studies. (We read them for you.) The effect a workout can have on us is immediate. It can significantly improve how you react to a not-so-great call with a client, or a pitch that fell flat. It can be the MVP in your next brand brainstorm, or the greatest wingman at your post-work happy hour. The impact it has on your productivity, sociability, mental health, is so massive, that scientists are imploring us to unapologetically incorporate our workouts INTO our workday. …Consider it a part of the job.

I will never forget when I fully realized and understood this philosophy, and it changed my life. For me, the stress came from a toxic relationship at work, something I couldn’t control or improve no matter how hard I tried. I turned to fitness classes. I started scheduling them after my workday, close by my office so I’d have no excuse to skip. I was about 26 years old and in that year, I rediscovered what it means to be present. The stress, the anxiety, the rapid beating heart, all of it — I refused to let it follow me in for that 45-90 minutes. I focused on the physical. I thought about my hand placement, what my legs were doing, how I was breathing. I walked out every time feeling lighter, clearer, calmer. Nine times out of 10 I honestly didn’t remember what was even bothering me. These classes I’d take were only the kickstart of major change for me.

Soon, exercise became a much greater priority in my life, and I let it seep through every part of my career. I started working for The Handle Bar and made the idea of exercise as part of the job a serious reality. Now I face different challenges than before, when the possibility of skipping a workout if I’m not feeling up to it is no longer an easy option. But I still often think about the “before time,” when I had to fight to fit exercise into my days. Here’s my advice, as well as some wisdom from successful others, on how you stay strong in that fight:

Find something you like.

The moment a spin class became about music, movement and resilience to me, and nothing remotely close to calories, was the moment I knew I would stick around for it. Find the thing that’s about way more than a number.

Focus on mastering it.

Now please, read that again. I’m not saying “perfect it.” I’m saying, invest your time and money in improving your performance, so that you keep coming back to work on those goals. It’s not going to be rainbows and butterflies the first time. Set your goals, show up and work hard to master the skill.

Embrace a community.

It’s a lot harder to skip your workout when you know your best friend, instructor, husband, mom, or soon-to-be dinner date (??) is going to ask why you missed class with them. This one might take a little time. Give it a few classes or a couple weeks, and soon you’ll start recognizing the other people in your classes, you’ll look forward to seeing them each week, and you’ll even plan your workouts together.

Ultimately, we just want this to matter to you even a tiny bit. We know the benefits it can bring to your life, your relationships, your career, your team at work, your EVERYTHING.

Repeat this with us: You’re not casting your work aside. You’re adding more value to the hours you work.

 

Nick Dixon, Broadway Restaurant Group

“Working in restaurants and running a business requires working demanding hours and lots of them. It’s a high pressure job and to stay on top you need to be present and have endurance for long work days.

Taking classes at The Handle Bar allowed me to break up my long days. It allowed me some personal time to disconnect from work, my phone/emails and focus on just me. I noticed that my endurance dramatically improved, the long days didn’t seem as long. I was more patient with challenges that popped up and my head was more clear for solving problems.

(Nick introduced several of his team members to The HB, and even helped organize a group ride for his team.)

I wanted to share my experience with our staff. Hopefully they could see the positive energy that The Handle Bar puts out and maybe that energy will help our teams live a more well-balanced life.”

 

Lindsey Wells, Toast

“The CS Culture Squad organized a ride to set an example that we can all work hard but also take care of ourselves. It was a great chance to meet fellow Toasters that we have not interacted with in the past and conquer a new challenge together! We had people that ride often and others that have never stepped foot in a spin class but we all encouraged each other throughout the whole class. I personally thought the ride was a million times better than a traditional happy hour (which we have often), it got us out of the office (a little early I might add), introduced a new type of exercise to some, allowed us to de-stress and overall brought a sense of unity between our group!”

 

Ginger Brostowski, Broadway Restaurant Group

“We were lucky enough to organize a ride with our neighbors at The Handle Bar in Southie. We are a business that is basically 24/7, 365 days a year. With such demanding schedules, it is often hard for our employees to prioritize their own health and wellness. Not only was the ride a fun outing, but it served as a reminder that it is always important to take time for yourself and there is no better way to do so than through the joy of movement.”

 

Ryan Jones, Hubspot

“We thought to organize an event with The Handle Bar as we were looking for an alternative outing as compared to the routine after work drinks. We wanted an event where wellness and a physical activity was at the core. The event allowed our organization to network before and after class. Our instructor was amazing – setting the tone for beginners, experienced riders and everyone in the middle – we all felt comfortable going into the class and getting situated. We understood that this was a place to recharge, set our own goals, and what we’d get out was what we put in. It was such a refreshing event!”

Tony Baum, Hubspot

“I love HubSpot’s wellness benefits. We have a healthy smoothie bar at work, on site gym, yoga, frequent 5ks, etc. I try to take advantage of all of this. At The Handle Bar ride, I was able to meet new people who I never get to speak to on a day to day. In addition, this type of activity brings people together. We had some first timers in the crowd so it was cool how nervous and excited they were.”

Want to organize your own private ride for your work team? Contact our Director of Events and Partnerships, Alli: alli@handlebarcycling.com.

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