Kettle bells on a shelf in a row

Five myths about your office gym debunked

July 16, 2019

Research has shown that if you have a gym membership, you are 14 times more likely to get sufficient weekly physical activity. Additional studies have shown that the more geographically convenient your gym is, the more likely you are to actually go to your gym, too. So if you have a gym right where you work, then using it only seems logical. But many people still don’t.

“I can’t afford the membership fee.”

“I don’t have time to exercise during the workday.”

“I don’t want my boss to see me in spandex.” (Hint: Gym memberships do not include a mandatory-spandex clause.)

Fitness and wellness expert Shelly Mamo addresses these concerns and more by debunking five myths about joining your office gym. Read on to learn why the office gym is not as scary as you think.

Shelly Mamo, Fitness & Wellness Coordinator, CU Denver
Fitness & Wellness Coordinator Shelly Mamo leads the employee wellness initiative and other programs at the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center.

MYTH #1: My workplace fitness facility is too expensive.

If a monthly gym fee sounds like a waste, consider how much your own health and wellness is worth to you. As much as your monthly internet bill? More than your Netflix and Hulu accounts? We have a lot of monthly expenditures that we consider “essential.” Physical activity gives you many benefits, and taking preventative measures to care for yourself can save you health care costs in the long-term.

To help off-set gym membership fees, look into incentive-based savings and discounts that may be available through your employer or insurance provider for participation in exercise programs.

At CU Denver, staff and faculty can earn $25 a month by logging their physical activity through the Move program

MYTH #2: It’s awkward to work out with colleagues.

First, going to the office gym doesn’t mean you have to work out with your colleagues. It’s totally fine to put on headphones and immerse yourself in your elliptical session. If it feels weird to wear spandex and do glute bridges with your direct reports, then wear loose-fitting shorts and stick to the treadmill. If you don’t want to run into your supervisor, try to go at a time you know she has a regular meeting or use an area of the gym you know she doesn’t.

The fact of the matter is, we’re all human, and we all need physical activity wherever we can squeeze it in. With a little common sense and attention to workplace gym etiquette, working out with colleagues can be comfortable, and maybe even enjoyable.

Treadmills in a row
You don’t have to be chatty at the office gym – it’s perfectly acceptable to put on headphones and immerse yourself in a treadmill session.

MYTH #3: It’s incredibly awkward to shower with colleagues.

Locker rooms have evolved. The cattle-style showers you may remember from high school P.E. or from the movie “Top Gun” are rare at most gyms and fitness centers these days. Instead, you’re likely to find showers with stalls or curtains, and often private changing areas, too. Many facilities, like the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center, also have single-occupancy, all-gender restrooms and shower rooms, for maximum privacy. Relax – no one has to see you change (and you don’t have to see others either).

MYTH #4: Everyone talks shop at the office gym.

To the contrary, you’ll probably find that most people at the company fitness center keep conversations to a minimum and focus on their workout. Because everyone needs a break from the workday, avoiding work talk is one of the first rules of working out with colleagues.

That said, getting out of the office and engaging in physical activity with your colleagues can enhance your professional relationships – why do you think business people go golfing together? A fitness facility is a space away from cubicles and conference rooms, where ideas and friendships can have more room to breathe and grow.

MYTH #5: I can’t fit exercise into my work day.

I saved the toughest one for last. It’s true that fitting a workout into an already hectic schedule can be a challenge. It’s also true that many office cultures do not fully support health through physical activity during the workday. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Designate a “workout bag” always packed with sneakers, toiletries, water bottle, headphones, etc. – toss in fresh clothes or towels when needed.
  2. Put your workout on your Outlook calendar (and mark the appointment as “Busy”).
  3. If needed, share your exercise schedule with your supervisor, remind her of why movement during the workday improves employee well-being, and assure her that you will be even more productive if you can keep to your exercise schedule.
  4. Each week you keep to your schedule, find a way to celebrate your accomplishment – maybe a relaxing massage, a toast over dinner or a simple hug or high-five.

You’ve got to be organized, committed, tenacious. You can fit exercise into your work day, and your workplace wellness facility can help you do it.

Person in yoga tree pose on mountaintop at sunset
It may not be as zen as yoga on a mountaintop, but joining your office gym can be a great choice for your health and wellness.

Guest contributor: Shelly Mamo, Wellness & Recreation Services