Reasons to Hold a Business Meeting at the Gym

The Sunday's New York Times's experts at observing trendy trends have uncovered an exhausting development for the working world: "sweatworking," they call it.

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The Sunday's New York Times's experts at observing trendy trends have uncovered an exhausting development for the working world: "sweatworking," they call it. A piece this week  by Courtney Rubin outlines the burgeoning practice of taking a client to the gym to network and simultaneously sweat -- hence "sweatwork" -- and seems generally to favor the practice as a great alternative to traditional, less healthy networking techniques like heavy drinking or eating at restaurants. There are some downsides to this practice we learn (very far down in the article.) One person profiled admits she  "had a client who once ran out of class and vomited, explaining that she hadn’t exercised in a year." So you might be understandably apprehensive about pitching a sweatworking event to an out-of-shape business colleague, who might be equally apprehensive about projectile vomiting in your business meeting. But health is just the most obvious benefit to sweatworking. There are plenty of others, so we've culled the article for a handy guide on the top ways to pitch your workout meeting to an exercise-averse client:

An excuse to buy cute work out clothes: "Sweatworking also raises new etiquette questions, like how to dress," notes the Times. "No Target workout pants,” says one person. "I definitely save my Lululemon for clients." We sort of suspect this as the prime ulterior motive for some sweatworking advocates. While spending $78 on yoga pants is bizarrely tempting to many, it's hard to justify the purchase given we are all just going to sweat through them. But with sweatworking, you and your client have finally you've found justification for that curiously overpriced but oh-so-desirable $50 tank-top. At a business meeting, no Target outfit is worthy of soaking up your sweatwork.

You don't actually have to work out that hard: During a spinning class, "because each bike can be individually adjusted, it’s easy to save face," reports the Times. That's code for, "You don't actually have to try hard at all," which is great because it turns "sweatworking" into networking while pedaling on a zero resistance stationary bike with some techno music in the background. So be sure to subtly indicate the adjustable bike features in your proposal if you fear your client's athletic ability is lacking.

Show up late to the office: It's hard to work out at 7 a.m. So don't. Convince your client that both of you can push that gym visit into the work day, and show up an hour late. "I could get in my workout, get into the office a bit late, and it’s all legitimate," says one person profiled in the Times. Same goes for your client. And remember, no one at the office has to know that your two-hour sweatworking session was actually a half hour workout and a 90 minute massage. What's between you and your client is privileged information. 

Release your primal aggression: "Erika Wadler, a 35-year-old reality television developer in New York ... now pummels her clients with her own hands, at Mendez boxing gym in the Flatiron district." Here's a method best used for clients who harbor a secret, burning hatred for you. Invite them to a boxing gym and drop subtle hints that you might even allow them a few good left jabs at your face. It's best not to highlight the other side of that, which is that by breaking down your client's will to live, you can get him to submit to just about any of your demands/fees/job requests. After all, Wadler tells the Times: "When you’re dripping sweat and the trainer’s yelling, ‘just five more situps,’ it breaks a barrier." Picture it:

You: Easily knocking out some squats. I've been meaning to tell you, we're increasing our hourly rate by 10 percent. Hopefully not a problem for you guys.

Trainer: At your client If you don't give me 15 more pushups I'm going to break your face.

Client: Softly weeping 10 percent? Fine, fine!

You can see each other naked: The Times writes"Those who fear the naked truths of the locker room take note: 'I've had some of my best conversations while changing,' said Loren Bassett, 41, a real estate agent with Corcoran." So, while you highlight the benefits of a boxing gym to clients who hate you, for clients who crave you, just subtly mention the locker room in your meeting pitch. It's possible you could find better ways to get your clients naked and vulnerable in a business meeting, but we trust human resources would nix most of them.

So to review, when pitching a "sweatwork" session to an athletically challenged client, highlight the cute clothes, the lack of real working out, the late office arrival time, the potential for punching you in the face, and the potential for seeing you in the buff. Do not highlight: vomiting or breaking of your client's spirit. See you in the locker room.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.