Last year NogginLabs participated in the Fit Company challenge here in Chicago for the first time. I’m happy to report that my colleagues and I placed first in our division. I’m less happy to report that, during the challenge, I threw up four times. At the time I had been working at NogginLabs for roughly eight weeks. I’m not aware of how much time should pass before you can feel comfortable vomiting in front of your coworkers four times, but I assure you that it is longer than eight weeks.
I write this essay not as a celebration of blue humor or with any sense of pride, but as a warning. The cool fall winds are upon us, making it an ideal time for these kinds of corporate gladiatorial games. You may soon find yourself doing your first burpee, running a wind sprint, or attempting clap push-ups in front of people you’ll have to see five days a week for, presumably, the rest of your life. That’s why I’ve compiled the following tips. Adhere to them closely, and you just might survive your company’s fitness challenge, and maybe even have a little fun. Actually, I can’t promise that last part. It’s exercise, it probably won’t be fun. Anyway, here we go!
Consider Staying Home
This may be the most important piece of advice I give you: participation for these events is NOT mandatory. I’m all for team bonding in the workplace, but unless you are an Olympic athlete, that bonding does not have to take place through exercise. If you don’t want to participate, just stay home! Do you know how many great documentaries PBS has made over the years? SO MANY. Have you seen this one?
Wouldn’t you rather spend an afternoon learning about the history of radio instead of throwing a medicine ball? Of course you would! I implore you, consider skipping the challenge and staying home.
Go to the Training Sessions
No interest in the history of radio? Okay fine, if you’re going to go through with this, you need to attend the training sessions so you’re aware of what you’re getting in to. As someone who runs a 12-minute mile occasionally, I thought I would be able to handle the challenge last year. I was wrong. You need to train for this. If you’re not sure who is running the training sessions for your team, check in with the most physically fit person in your office. They are probably in charge.
On the day of the event, there’s a delicate balance that must be achieved with your pre-challenge breakfast. You want to eat and hydrate enough so that you have energy for the day, without overindulging. A bowl of oatmeal or whole grain toast would likely meet this criteria. As for my experience, allow me to inform you what meal will not help you achieve athletic excellence: a big plate of bacon and eggs. Don’t do it.
Pack an Extra Shirt
While I’ve complained a lot in this essay about fitness challenges, let’s not forget their greatest redeeming quality: you get a free shirt. I say that with no sarcasm or irony. I love free shirts. My primary sources of shirts as a thirty-three-year-old man are work events and Christmas presents from Mom. That being said, it may be chilly while you’re waiting around to compete, and you may want separate clothing if you’re going out with your team afterward. Or if you throw up on what you wore. So throw some extra clothes in your bag before you head out.
Watch the Most Recent Episode of This is Us
This is just good advice for anyone working in an office in the year 2018. If there is ever a lull in the conversation with your coworkers, simply ask, “Hey, does anyone watch This is Us?” This will immediately begin a group conversation with any combination of coworkers in their late twenties or older. At this point, you really don’t have to continue engaging in the conversation, but will still be thought of as sensitive and cultured by your coworkers.
Most fitness challenges are designed to accommodate participants of all fitness levels, so don’t set unrealistic goals. If you’re having trouble keeping up with the rest of your teammates, take a break or skip an activity, or opt for the simpler challenges. You have nothing to prove to anyone, and there’s no shame in going easy on yourself. There is, however, a lot of shame in leaning up against a dumpster and throwing up four times. Weigh your options carefully.