Our company subsidizes memberships to a gym in our building. Everybody goes here, and I often find myself working out next to senior people in the company. How do I handle this?
Out of Breath
Dear Out of Breath,
I'm sure you realize you can glisten with perspiration and good manners at the same time. I myself do not exercise - I have People to do that for me - but nobody knows better than I do that sweat can be fabulous. It can also make the most casual situations more complicated than they appear.
When working out with colleagues, you want to show you're a team player who appreciates the subtlest nuances of social interaction. Call it Executive Judgment if you will, but it starts by bringing the right workout gear. As an arbiter of style, I know all too well that fitness disasters usually begin at home.
Be sure you bring a clean outfit that fits well, and pack the right shoes. Old tops with mysterious stains, shorts that disclose too much information, and ensembles that scream "look at me!" undermine understatement.
It won't be a good idea to ask the boss to share her water bottle or hand towel, so bring your own - the one that doesn't say Nascar, unless you're on the circuit.
Know your club's policies for equipment use, and follow them. Battling other members in public for treadmills or steppers doesn't say much for your interpersonal skills. No matter how enthusiastic you are, don't corner all the free weights or refuse to let others use a weight machine when you're resting between sets.
Arrive on time for your exercise class with whatever equipment you need ready. In the case of my dog Dickie, that would mean sticks and rubber balls. At least one member of his doggie play group is guaranteed to be prepared.
Smile through the pain, and those around you will know they can count on you not just in the gym, but in the boardroom or cubicle as well. Reinforce your reputation as a team player, and you may even be able to turn your panache into cash during bonus season.
If you're feeling awkward about the close quarters, just keep a towel at hand (don't snap it at anyone), and chat pleasantly and briefly if required. Clean up after yourself, hog neither the shower nor the mirror, and you'll be in great shape to discuss business once you're dressed and in the office.
Workout do's and don'ts
Annette's Workout Ethic
|Setup||Ducking out of the office early to get to the gym.||Carrying a clean gym bag, and greeting colleagues.|
|The help||Acting rudely when asked to follow club policies.||Treating all staff as if they were clients.|
|Dress||Wearing shirts with tasteless slogans or profanity, noisy jewelry, or tell-all ensembles. ||Choosing the right clothes for your sport and checking the rear view.|
|Equipment use||Clinging to equipment when it's another member's turn.||Wiping all traces of sweat from a machine and ceding it promptly.|
|Weight room||Blocking mirrors while giving unsolicited advice on technique.||Returning hand weights to the proper place, not just where you found them.|
|Hot tub and sauna||Shoving others aside; draping immodestly.||Bathing first, and taking an unoccupied place.|
|Hygiene||Avoiding the shower to burn off 100 more calories; asking to borrow deodorant.||Coming prepared; showering expediently; cleaning up all toiletries; putting towels in bin.|
|Nudity management||Asking your boss for a raise when both of you are naked.||Allowing others psychic space in the locker room.|
|Attitude||"People who work out are more fabulous than people who don't."||"Working out makes me feel fabulous, a state of mind I wish on everyone."|