I’m Sorry, But Has Anyone Ever Actually Worked Out At the Office?

I'm calling the Internet's bluff.

See? This is just absurd. | Photo: Imilian/Shutterstock.com

See? This is just absurd. | Photo: Imilian/Shutterstock.com

Office workouts are supposed to be a thing. This is how I know: If you Google the term “office workout,” you yield more than 86 million results. One or two of them, I’m ashamed to admit, are probably links to the very website you’re reading right now.

But despite what Google has to say about it, I’m pretty sure office workouts are not actually a thing. When was the last time you spotting a co-worker doing a quick set of crunches in her cubicle? Or your boss lunge-walking his way to a staff meeting? Thought so.

The straw that broke this camel’s back landed last week, before I headed out for the long weekend, when this old link from the Huffington Post popped back up on my radar. Perhaps it was a slow news day or perhaps a blog editor somewhere just reeeeeally wanted to catch the earlier train home to get her Thanksgiving festivities underway, but there it was again in all its glory: a post outlining and demonstrating, with GIFs, six exercises you can ostensibly do while at work to squeeze in a good burn without changing out of your business suit.

It seems like a good idea in theory, sure, but once you see the GIFs in all of their repetitive-action glory, you realize just how absurd this proposition is. With the exception of the advice to take the stairs (which, come on, HuffPo, did that really need to be said and demonstrated?), mark my words that swiveling in your desk chair, doing bicep curls with your laptop (I am not making this up) and busting out a few incline pushups while you wait for the printer to warm up will only serve to make your coworkers cock their head to the side quizzically as they watch you and then later whisper behind your back, “Has Susie completely lost her mind?”

It is for exactly these reasons that I have often wondered, Has anyone ever actually worked out at the office? I’m going to go ahead and say no. Sure, someone, somewhere may have done a few lame neck stretches or a surreptitious cat-and-cow to alleviate some back pain, but 86 million Google results are asking me to believe that there are legions of people hopping off of conference calls so they can get in a few burpees before their next meeting. Or laptop-curling while they discuss Q1 financial projections. Or performing a few “celebratory split squat jumps” when they land a new client, as per Greatist’s advice:

Win over a new client? Figure out how to un-jam the printer? Is it finally Friday?! Celebrate with the split squat jump. With feet hip-width apart, step the left leg back two feet and balance on the ball of the foot. Next, lower into a lunge, and then accelerate upwards in an explosion of celebration. While in the air, switch feet so that the left foot is planted firmly in front and the right leg is now behind. Repeat 10-12 times on each side.

I’m sorry, Internet; I’m just not buying it.

So I’m going to interject some actually useful advice into this conversation, and perhaps Google will find this post and add it to its “office workout” search results. (Any SEO gurus out there want to tell me how many times I need to use the term “office workout” for this to stick? Office workout, office workout, OFFICE WORKOUT.)

My advice is this: Instead of wasting your time doing a few squats while the coffee machine brews another pot, try cranking up your efficiency during your working hours so you can take a real, uninterrupted lunch break when you can move your body around for real. Go for extra credit and sign up for one of the many, many lunch-hour fitness classes that happen at studios and gyms all over the city. (Here are five of them I wrote about a few years back.)

Or better yet, get serious about your fitness habits. Try scheduling time for your workout the same way you schedule your hair appointment or your meeting with your boss: Physically put it on your calendar, and treat it as a non-optional commitment. You’ll do yourself loads more good by spending 30 or 40 dedicated post-work minutes getting sweaty than you will doing squats for 30 seconds in your perilously tall high heels.

Trust me. The GIFs don’t lie.

Now tell us, have you ever got your squat on in the office?

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