In fall of 2017 I challenged myself to take a series of fitness classes I had never done before in an effort to get to know my colleagues better. I understand that working out with colleagues is not for everyone, but it’s such a big part of who we are at Reebok that I found it the most authentic way to engage with our Reebok team and meet new people.

I sought a variety of classes for two reasons. One, fitness is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor; people find various ways to better themselves through movement. And two, by trying a new class, I was put in a position of vulnerability, which I was subsequently able to grow and learn from.

Here’s how it happened!

Go where your colleagues are most comfortable

A team of cross fits from Reebok pose together for a group photo. crossfit, Reebok, teamwork, fitness, motivation
Sweat working is the new networking. Get to know your work colleges outside of the office and in the gym.

We on the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) had received feedback that, whilst some employees were seeking to interact with us more, in some cases it was seen as intimidating or hard to approach if you didn’t do ‘tough fitness’.

At the same time I had a discussion with my 13-year-old daughter. She was auditioning for a play and was quite nervous. I told her that personal growth comes from putting yourself in a vulnerable situation.

I then realized, if she can evolve from stepping outside her comfort zone, can the SLT do the same thing? How would that look at Reebok?

Play outside your comfort zone

I landed on the idea of trying new fitness classes that I would never normally take. We have around 20 classes offered each day at our HQ gym, plus even more classes offered in our great hometown of Boston, so there are a lot of opportunities to branch out.

I originally sought to take three classes I had never done. I started soliciting ideas from colleagues, asking for suggestions on what I should try. The rules were simple, a class that was new to me and the nominee had to join me for the workout.

The first class I took was an Indo Board workout followed by hot yoga at a studio in South Boston. For my third class I crowdsourced new ideas from on our internal social network, Yammer, which solicited more great suggestions.

One of them was a Les Mills BODYPUMP class. It’s taught at our HQ by Chelsea McLeod, a Reebok employee who works on our DBC business by day and teaches Les Mills classes and spin classes by night.

Keep the momentum going

As I was doing these classes, the whole experience for me was so positive, I didn’t want to stop! Plus, I was getting so many great recommendations based on Yammer posts I was doing after each class.

The fourth class was Soul Cycle, a suggestion from Sara Eckhardt. Nine Reebok employees joined me at a studio downtown!

The fifth class was CrossFit, a suggestion that came from Shelby Kreienberg. My lungs nearly exploded on this one.

Lastly, I did Les Mills BODYJAM. I was most nervous about this one because it’s dance-based, (I don’t dance, even at parties) but it turned out to be the most fun! It was just 15 women dancing and…me!

Shot of a fitness group celebrating a victory at the gym. gym, fitness, teamwork, motivation, victory
Not only is it great to celebrate individual wins but it is even greater to share the glory as a team. ©JADON/ Getty Images

What did I learn?

1. My colleagues at Reebok are AMAZING. All of these experiences brought in different groups of colleagues. Some of them I recognized but had never formally met before, and others I met for the first time in class that day.

2. You can do so much more than you think you can – and sometimes the only way to learn this is by pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.

And how does my daughter feel about it, knowing she inspired me to do this? Proud – and embarrassed by the thought of me dancing my way through a BODYJAM class!


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by Frank 18.05.2018
Neal, thanks for sharing this idea and promoting vulnerability as an opportunity (or prerequisite!?) for growth.