Happy hour networking is so 2011. The latest trend: sweatworking. Instead of meeting over lunch or drinks, business contacts meet at an exercise class. For working people, the marriage of talking shop while you burn calories speaks to the desire for integrating work with healthy habits.
This is how it works. You invite a colleague or contact to join you in an exercise class, like spinning or yoga, and arrange to get in a great workout while conversing before and after class.
Julie Gilbert Newrai, founder and CEO of strategic consultants Wolf Means Business and former senior vice president at Best Buy, is an early trendsetter of sweatworking. She finds networking over workouts to be beneficial, she says, "because first, I am more apt to get it done and second, you're exposing people to one of your loves and bringing them into your environment. The third benefit is, when you sweat with people, you form really good relationships with them."
Bringing work into workouts can show a sense of passion and dedication to both, says Kelly Miyamoto, founder and owner of Minneapolis-based workout club THE FIRM. And she observes another benefit: "More productive decisions are made without alcohol. That's why it is trending. It's saying, let's have a more productive work environment without food or alcohol."
Another approach to sweatworking is to apply it to team building. A design group recently held such a class at THE FIRM and met afterward for a brainstorming session and lunch.
"It was a healthy way for the company to focus," says Miyamoto, who arranged for the group to have a special class scheduled just for them.
Of course, sweatworking can have pitfalls. One is differing fitness levels. If you ask someone to join you in a workout session and they have not exercised in a while, it's best to choose a class that suits all fitness levels. Spinning, for example, allows people to comfortably exercise at their pace. A class like yoga has the benefit of being low-impact and allows for modifications in the poses. Zumba, the new hot dance workout, offers easy-to-follow Latin-influenced dance moves and is also a low-impact choice.