As companies look to promote the health and productivity of their employees, the notion of workplace wellness has been gaining in popularity. And since studies suggest that allocating time for fitness can help, exercise classes for employees are becoming more common in an organizational culture. The practice actually started post-WWII in Japan.
While the intended results are laudable, working out with your coworkers can be just a wee bit stressful too, as Bloomberg reporter Rebecca Greenfield explains in this video about her visit to an exercise session with trainer “Guillermo” at Fluent, an ad agency. We can relate.
Though her experiment was surprisingly fun, in the end Greenfield was relieved it wasn’t with her own coworkers. It’s easy to see how the self-conscious might consider a public workout way too personal and revealing. Does everyone consider getting all sweaty in Spandex an ideal form of professional image cultivation? Could the brilliant accountant lose political points for hilarious jumping jacks?
Fluent’s president, Matt Conlin, posits that company exercise classes offer a more constructive setting for bonding than, say, going out to a bar. No doubt. “But drinking makes hanging out with your coworkers so much more bearable,” points out our intrepid reporter.
There’s also the fact that certain social boundaries at work keep things running smoothly and may not be such a bad thing. As Greenfield notes: “I can’t image the General Counsel of Bloomberg holding my ankles while I push his feet to the ground.”
This isn’t to say companies shouldn’t try to get wellness right. It’s just a matter of working out what it takes to construct a program that addresses the needs of all employees. After all, wellness is supposed to relieve stress, not create it.