Workplace Fitness Continued: Pros and Cons

If you missed yesterday’s post, I started talking about a 12 week workplace fitness challenge that I joined with some of my coworkers/friends. I suggest clicking on over and catching up on that post before you move ahead with this one so that we’re all on the same page. (*nudge, nudge…get it? Same page?… blog…webpage?)

Done? Moving on.

What do I think about the program?

There are most certainly pros and cons to a program like this. I’ll try to break them down here, if I can get all of my thoughts organized for ya.

What I like about this specific program:

  • Team Work breeds motivation: As I mentioned yesterday, having the sense of a team and others who depend on you can do wonders for motivation and performance. I’m not one to have a workout buddy — I much prefer to lift on my own, that way I can get lost in my own thoughts and really focus– but knowing that you’re part of something bigger may just push you to get one more rep, one more sprint, or 5 more pushups.
  • There is a specific strength training component: I’m happy to see that the fitness center staff have included strength training into this program. So many times, when people think of fitness and weight loss, they impulsively jump on the endless-cardio train, and forget about the fact that building lean muscle is an essential component of fat loss.
  • The specific challenges each week work as reminders for every day life: This week’s nutritional challenge, for instance, is to drink 6-8 glasses of water each day. Easy peasy, right? Well yes, unless you’re someone like me who struggles to drink enough water every single day. I am very well aware that I need to drink more, yet I hardly ever do. Now that it’s written in some challenge guidelines though? I’ve had at least that much every day this week. Again, this goes back to giving my word and to the other 3 who are counting on me.

What do I wish I could change about this program?

  • Too much cardio: And no, I’m not just saying this because I hate to run (remember?). I’m saying this because by the end of this program, each team member is expected to do 320 minutes of cardio in one week — which breaks down to about 5 days with over an hour of cardio. (blegh) Is cardio important to fat loss? Well, yes, but not this much. There is a lot of research out there to back up the fact that these crazy amounts of steady state cardio (because who can do intervals for an hour), are actually counterproductive when it comes to fat loss. Yes, like I said above, there is a strength training component to the program which is great, but I wish it were a little bit more balanced. Maybe it’s because they thought they couldn’t attract as many people to the program if it had more strength training? Either way, I feel that this just perpetuates the myth that endless hours of cardio will lead to fat loss. (*Spoiler alert: It won’t) 
  • End-Result focus is body weight lost, not body fat lost: I realize that this is a selfish thought of mine, that won’t apply to everyone, but I just thought I’d put it out there.  I certainly have a decent amount of body fat to lose, and I’m excited about this challenge to give me the extra push to do just that. But I’m also well aware that with the amount that I lift, I’ll probably only be able to realistically lose 5-10 pounds of body weight, unless I want to also start losing muscle (I don’t — Sorry, team!). So while I will be extremely pleased with a decrease in my % body fat, the only thing that will get me more points in the end is a bigger % decrease in body weight.  I know that there are certainly people who will be involved in this program that will be able to lose a larger amount of body weight, and for general society I’d say this is a good goal. Just allow me to be selfish here for a second, ok?
  • Risk of obsessing: This one honestly has nothing to do with the program and everything to do with myself. It really all boils down to this: I’m a competitive person and I want to win. As I mentioned yesterday, I do realize that the point of this competition isn’t really about my opponents at all, but is really about bettering myself. So be it. But I still want to win. A little piece of me worries that within this drive to win will grow a little seed of obsession. I’ve told you all about my past with disordered eating habits, and while those behaviors have not plagued me for a while now, I know it’s still in there somehow. It’s up to ME, and only me, to make sure that doesn’t rear its ugly head in the name of competition. (Fear not, I am in a very healthy place right now. I don’t forsee this happening, but I just want to be honest and name it as a possibility.)

Ok, I’ll take my complainy-pants off now. 

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Overall Impressions — Is this type of program beneficial?

Without a question, YES!!! Even more important than getting people to strength train is getting people to move, period. This type of program gives people something to focus on, gives them specific goals and motivators, and also works as a device to bring coworkers closer together. Despite my minor gripes about the program itself, overall I think that these types of things are invaluable in any workplace.

So there you have it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some ass kicking to do, because Damn it, we’re going to WIN.

🙂

Does your workplace have a fitness program? Have you ever participated in a fitness challenge like this?

And thanks for the response on yesterday’s post — Sounds like you guys are in for a fitness challenge of your own…Let’s get started on Monday!

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12 thoughts on “Workplace Fitness Continued: Pros and Cons

  1. I definitely wish I could compete in some sort of ‘team’ atmosphere. I’m definitely motivated by being part of a team!!!

    I think it’s awesome that your workplace is encouraging fitness though – even if there are some flaws in the way they’re going about it.

  2. the team component is definitely what makes this a cool thing — its also the reason why i don’t 100% hate crossfit. everyone likes to be part of something – and unless you’re playing a competitive sport, there’s really nothing else like it. this will be a fun opportunity i think…& like you said, it will be good to just focus on dominating all the challenges & not really worrying about the numbers on the scale. you’re already a weight room diva so you got this! 🙂

    • Heck Yeah! Even if it’s a silly team like this, it’s still awesome to be part of a team, no doubt. I think the best thing for me is to not even think about the numbers on the scale…and really just focus on kicking ass and being has healthy as possible. The rest will take care of itself!

  3. Yes, I totally agree with you about the emphasis on weight loss in company programs is probably disproportionate. But it’s also sort of a blessing that you (and I) are able to step back from the problem of simply trying to get to a healthy bmi and be able to philosophize about what an *ideal* emphasis in a workplace nutrition program because we’re already there. Plus, I’m pretty sure (well, kind of sure) these types of company programs are all about insurance regulations and so far the way that type of thing is measured is in pounds lost.

    Good luck to you and your team (in whatever sense you need it ;)) People succeed in groups and it sounds like you guys have a great support system.

    • Thanks so much!! We do have a great group, we’re all friends and while we’re all competitive, there’s no unnecessary pressure or negativity. You are also absolutely correct that it is a blessing that I don’t really have to worry about losing a large amount of weight, which is why I said I was being selfish on that point 🙂 Thanks for your input!

      • HA I knew at least one of you would say that!! I’m not down for it either…and I’m still contemplating whether I’ll even do that much once we get to the end of the challenge. Do I do it just to get points for my team, even though it might take away from my own fitness goals?! What I’ll probably end up doing is just adding in a lot of long walks 🙂

  4. Loved your thoughts Stephanie and I couldn’t agree more with what you would change about the program! BF loss is much more important and that much cardio is pretty insane! I couldn’t do that much HAHA! Thinking that I haven’t done cardio since November makes me dread doing it haha

    • I know I can’t even think about doing that much in a week… The minutes were only at 100 last week, and I did a little bit more than that but it was a stretch for me! Luckily right now, I’m able to ride my bike to the gym so I count that as my cardio time 🙂

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