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Keep On Moving

New York City

I maintain it was a grand idea.

On a whim, I signed up for a super hero-themed half marathon. With only a few weeks to train, I needed to look toned climbing steep hills dressed in a 300-style gladiator get up. A thought popped into my head about the hours of lost training time staring at a monitor at work. What if it were possible to combine work and working out, accelerating my aesthetic race condition, and decreasing my stimulant (caffeine and chocolate) intake?

Cue Amazon

I did some research, and decided a deep incline bench would work best. At gyms, these are typically used to lie backward upside down while pressing barbells upward. However, they can also be used for deep ab crunches. Even at their most-level incline setting, crunch benches require a strong abdominal pull to complete a repetition. Also, their design is inherently portable; I could easily fold and place it under my desk at day's end.

After selecting a sturdy version with good ratings, I arranged its shipping to my office on the 40th floor of a mid-town Manhattan building. My colleagues looked on with wonder when I brought in the big box. They were even more surprised watching me assemble a piece of exercise equipment in our workspace.

Children Of Concrete and Steel

If you work in New York City or another metropolis, you are familiar with life in a skyscraper. Through security, up an elevator, surrounded with an amazing view, but suspended 40 or 50 floors above street level. What this means is that fresh air, a snack, or a walk around the block means...down an elevator...past security...and all over again after your jaunt (gobbling up valuable time). While not quite deplorable conditions, the atmosphere by default isn't conducive to fitness. It would be one thing if it was necessary to walk up and down the stairs to your desk each day, but that proposition is impractical, and usually forbidden. Get Up Get Moving (and Keep Thinking)

In recent years, we've been inundated with conclusive medical evidence detailing the perils of prolonged sitting. Unfortunately, it can be a leap in corporate environments to strike a wellness balance. Senior stakeholders can be leery of work areas that display even a modicum of employee joy or personality. Senior stakeholders may also feel that a millisecond not spent sitting hunched over, intently staring at a monitor represents millions in lost revenue. Those perspectives are out-moded thinking; the new paradigm should be Fresh Body Fresh Mind.

How Does EBITDA Look? Wanna Do A Set?

The crunch bench was a boon I did not anticipate. It was a conversation starter, an ice breaker, a levity invoker, and comic relief. Invariably, visitors to my area wanted to know what the blue contraption was, and why it was there. I would patiently and animatedly explain its presence, and give them a demonstration ab crunch set. Thereafter, I would welcome (not challenge) my curious colleague to have a go.

It was amazing. Some of the most-seemingly reserved, guarded, and not obviously fit folks hopped on and did a monster set (15 repetitions or more). Others would struggle to do one rep, laughing while we all watched and cheered them on. People began to stop by regularly to do a set, catch up, and encourage others to try the bench. I got to know some colleagues better, and was able to meet other colleagues who had heretofore been aloof.

The Phone Call

It was a normal day. The usual challenging intensity of trying to complete work in between participating in ninety-five meetings. I was engrossed in something (surely mission critical) when my phone rang. It was a senior stakeholder whom I rarely conferred with, but respected their management style and demeanor.

"Hi, how are you? How are things?"

"Fantastic. Never been better. Good to hear from you. How may I assist you please?"

"Do you have some kind of abdominal machine at your desk?"

"Uh, you mean the crunch bench? Yes."

"You need to take that home today please. I get it, I do. I am also an athlete. If it were up to me, we would have exercise balls for chairs, all that. I understand. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. Do yourself a favor and get that thing out of there."

Fun While It Lasted

Besides breaking the ice with colleagues, my favorite part of the crunch bench was its supplanting of stimulants. Whenever I had a challenging mental moment, or felt fatigue, in lieu of another cup of coffee or bite of chocolate, I would hop on and do a few crunch sets. All right there near my desk on the 40th floor, never exceeding a few minutes, and always getting right back to work. I loved those moments.

A crowd of colleagues formed as I disassembled the crunch bench. Everyone looked bummed recalling the laughs the crunch bench had brought us. They were mostly surprised the crunch bench had been banished. Especially since our organization had recently promoted an employee "Best Yoga Pose at Work" campaign (cue hypocrisy).

Balanced Body. Balanced Mind. Balanced Life.

If your career is like mine, a 40 hour work week does not exist. You work a minimum of 50 hours a week, with 60 or 70 hours not unprecedented. And not always because you have to or need to, but sometimes because you want to. Thus, the wellness-aware person's paradox - all the time spent working, leaving nominal time for additional ...work (of the physical variety).

Many of the people that have been instrumental in my career spend their spare time perpetually training. They are either preparing for a fitness event, or training as if they are just to stay fit. I have found that people who want to physically exhaust themselves for fun tend to be driven, erudite, and personable; qualities we all desire in our project partners (colleagues).

Professional Motivation Is Mental and Physical

Typically, legal and logistics considerations preclude workout equipment adjacent to one's cubicle (bollocks, we know). Regardless, we should all strive to go rogue and do some planks every hour, and/or take a brief brisk walk at lunchtime.

There's no question that wellness respites at work increase productivity by keeping us mentally balanced. It also extends our lives. Even the most curmudgeonly senior stakeholder must concede this truth.