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Conference rooms are the new gyms

From Boston Consulting to Procter & Gamble, employee meetings now include sweat sessions in place of PowerPoint presentations.
Boston Consulting Group conference room workout
Aniela Williams is the unofficial leader of Insanity at Boston Consulting, encouraging her co-workers to “keep moving!” when the going gets tough.


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On a recent Monday evening, a group of Boston Consulting Group employees gathered in a company conference room. The table was pushed to the back of the room, the chairs were stacked on one side. Suits were replaced with sweats, and on a projection screen, a Powerpoint presentation was nowhere to be found.

“Don’t give up! There you go! That’s it!” Shaun T, the creator of workout-DVD phenom “Insanity,” shouted from the speakers.

The Midtown makeshift workout class is one example of a growing segment of professionals who are trading lunches with coworkers for team-building sweat sessions, sometimes without even leaving the office. It’s like sweat-working, but with your colleagues.

A projection screen and surround-sound speakers turn Boston Consulting’s conference room into a fitness studio.

At Boston Consulting, the weekly Insanity workouts were organized by Aniela Williams, an executive assistant, with the help of Melanie Jarzynieki, a multimedia producer. Both are fitness enthusiasts, and the convenience and fun-factor of sweating without leaving work motivated them.

Since they launched the weekly classes over the summer, attendance has ranged from three to 12 participants, and Williams sends out reminders each week. “The e-mail distribution list continues to grow, and no one ever wants to be taken off of it, even if they haven’t come to a single session yet,” says Jarzynieki.

Meanwhile, at Procter & Gamble, a run club that was founded by an employee about a year ago now meets two evenings a week, regardless of the dipping temperatures. “I’m thankful for my work run club,” says Ashley Diamond, who also blogs at Healthy Happier Bear. “I fully believe it helped get me off the treadmill and into Central Park, which in turn helped me run a stronger marathon.”

Sometimes, it’s as simple as finding a workout buddy at work. “A colleague and I first became friendly during the occasional happy hour but really bonded by working out together and trying new fitness classes all over the city,” says Dana Duprey, who works in finance at REIT. “It led us to start our blog,”

Uptown at The JCC, employees have a serious advantage: on-site fitness equipment. Last spring, they put together a lunch-time boot camp that had about 20 participants, and one group of co-workers attends a Friday spin class together. The staff also organized a summer stair climbing contest.

“Someone in tech created a program where all of us could log how many flights we took each day, and we would see where our ‘competitors’ were throughout,” says Erica Werber, the JCC’s director of public relations. “It’s ten flights up to our offices, so we log a good amount. The winner gets bragging rights.”

While ascending the stairs may not be an actual promotion, at least it comes with toned glutes. —Lisa Elaine Held

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