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The surprising ways that working out could give your career a boost


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One creative way to break the glass ceiling? Smash it with a heavy kettlebell.

The idea may not be as far-fetched as you think. Increasingly, a parallel is being drawn between success at the gym and success at the office, with more women reporting that crushing personal fitness goals enables them to perform at a higher level professionally.

“I see a direct correlation,” says Leanne Shear, the co-founder and president of Uplift Studios, an all-women boutique fitness studio (with locations in New York City and Los Angeles) that has incorporated community- and career-building into its programming since its inception. “Women are claiming their strength in the workplace more than ever—and with regards to working out, the women who come through the doors get stronger, they lift heavier, they feel more powerful, and it certainly translates into their careers. I see constant examples of it.”

“Women get stronger, they lift heavier, they feel more powerful, and it certainly translates into their careers”

Shear says of all the lifestyle events Uplift hosts, the career-focused panels are by far the most popular—and as a result, the studio is hosting its first-ever Career and Inspiration Convention in January, at which women will attend workshops that pair workouts with business skills to match. Think strength training alongside building your own brand, and agility drills alongside guidance on managing career transitions.

workout and career
Photo: Uplift Studios

The most common way women say the gym impacts their work? By building their confidence. And though there isn’t much research on the topic, a strong physique resulting in a stronger sense of self makes intuitive sense. It kind of seems like taking Amy Cuddy’s power posing theories one step further. As in, you don’t have to try to stand up tall to power pose for your big meeting, you just do naturally…because of those strong back muscles you developed from repeated pull-ups.

Casey Cohen, 32, is the co-founder of Salido, a restaurant operating system start-up, and she says she frees up time to work out five to seven times a week because strength training makes her feel more equipped to deal with workplace challenges.

“I’m reminded of how strong I really am and that I can accomplish new, challenging tasks,” she explains. “So when I walk into the office and have to configure our HR platform from scratch, I remind myself, ‘Casey, you held 10-pound weights today. You can do this. You can do anything, you just need to want to.'”

“Not only do I get the endorphin high from an early morning workout, but I often find clarity and am able to resolve unsettled things from the day prior”

Cohen says her fitness routine also allows her to approach work with positivity, and therefore get more done—and many others agree.

“Sticking to my fitness routine is instrumental to my productivity at work,” says Ali Martillotta, a 26-year-old New Yorker who works in PR at Brandstyle Communications and can be found in a Barry’s Bootcamp, SoulCycle, SLT, or Akin’s Army class nearly every day of the week. “Not only do I get the endorphin high from an early-morning workout, but I often find clarity and am able to resolve unsettled things from the day prior.”

In fact, research has shown that exercise has incredible cognitive benefits, boosting brainpower, enhancing creativity, and improving memory—all things that could give fitness lovers an edge when pushing to meet deadlines or coming up with creative solutions on the fly.

Finally, women report that getting active allows them to sweat out the stress from the many other parts of their lives (which often involves taking care of everyone around them, both at the office and at home). “Working in a fast-paced industry that’s heavily based on serving others, my fitness regimen is the hour of my day that I get to have for myself, to focus on myself,” Martilotta says. “For me, that’s essential for my happiness.” And guess what? Studies show happy people are the ones who get ahead.

Here are three tips to take charge at work, from the CEO of SoulCycle—plus, advice from a seriously inspirational female entrepreneur.