Find your inner superhero(ine)!
Does the very idea of “fitness” make you feel guilty and uncomfortable, roll your eyes, or even audibly groan? Yeah, I hear you. Before I make my case about the importance of workouts as a key ingredient of your total career journey and developing your personal brand, you should know that for decades I was the antithesis of a fitness freak. In fact, you could say I even prided myself on my laziness. Here’s how that all changed.
My fitness backstory
On New Year’s Eve 2009, I was with a couple of my best girlfriends and their families when our electricity went out. The mishap made for the perfect winter holiday night in Boston, with charades and board games with our kids by candlelight, followed by a group New Year’s resolution share.
These gals—who were/are all in great shape, run all sorts of races, and do triathlons and other crazy physical endeavors—committed to more amazing races, additional tough triathlons, and new crazy physical challenges. When the circle share landed on me, I said proudly, “I’m going to have more fun!” eschewing the whole idea of exercise and downplaying the value of health and fitness. I thought, “We’re all living too long anyway…why prolong it during the older years that are torturous?!...Plus, life’s best years are too short, so why spend it in voluntary pain and discomfort and sweating?!”
At the time, I was what my youngest sister would call “skinny fat,” meaning I was relatively slender and looked okay in clothes but really had no shape and was neither strong nor healthy. I spent too much time sitting at my desk, relaxing on our living room beanbags with our kids, being sedentary on planes and airports for hours on end, eating and drinking too much, and just having more than my fair share of decadence traveling on the road. Frankly, the last thing I needed at that point was “more fun.”
As I awoke the next morning on New Year’s Day, my lameness ate at me and I realized it was time for a change (sing it with a pubey Peter Brady voice like my junior high sons would now!). My kids were about about five and seven at the time, and they were emerging out of the prepare-for-it-like-its-war years as increasingly independent little dudes who didn’t need me as much—no diapers, no sippies, sort of compliant, super active and fun. Meanwhile, my husband and I were starting to be old farts and realized age and gravity were the most formidable of foes!
It was all of these factors and events taken together that led me to pick up the phone and call the closest gym to our house on New Year’s Day. I got all four of us a family membership and we headed over for our inaugural visit. With that call and first visit to the gym came a new era for me, a new world order, a complete watershed point of no return.
To be honest, I never in a million years thought I’d stick with it. Like the gillions of well-intentioned New Year’s resolutionists who commit to bettering themselves every year, I was confident that I’d end up yet another sad statistic. There wasn’t a shred of evidence that I had any of the ingredients—grit, resolve, commitment, focus—to see it through.
Fast-forward eight years and I truly can’t imagine life without it. Being fit and having everything that comes with it are an integral part of my DNA, my day-to-day, and the way our family lives. I rarely miss a day because I relish what it gives me every time—both in the moment and afterwards through the residual gifts the experience enables all around.
The whole being fit thing has been such a big deal for me—both personally and professionally—that I'd venture to say it's responsible for more than doubling my compensation over the past eight years. Here's my rationale behind that: as I became more fit, I started to look better and stronger, my posture improved, and all of that impacted the way I carried myself and the way I dressed. Those changes, in turn, completely turbo-charged my personal brand and helped me gain attention and credibility. It engendered confidence in me. The whole thing passively-aggressively intimated my discipline more broadly—my ability to take things on, see them through, and do them well.
A couple of years ago, I had a guy in a hotel gym at 5 AM say, “you must be either a cop or a spy…which is it?!” I never imagined in a million years that I could evolve my skinny-fat self into someone who would get posed that question. My point is that if I can do this—work and working out—anyone can.
Introducing Collaborator Nicole Goodwin!
To bring some real legitimacy, expertise, and most importantly superhero(ine) energy to this whole Women@Work(outs) thing, I'm beyond excited to introduce Nicole Goodwin! Nicole is an absolutely extraordinary award-winning personal trainer who I've been lucky enough to know for the past decade. While I usually go it alone at the gym (mostly because I'm bad at following directions), I spend most of my workouts getting to watch Nicole's amazing leadership with a huge range of clients—young and old, male and female, and on all points of the fitness spectrum. I've been mesmerized by the way she engages with each of them in such a compelling, personal way and endeavored to emulate what I see her do—both from a physical and interpersonal standpoint.
As part of our recent launch party, a bunch of us Women@Work were privileged to benefit from and enjoy her awesomeness. That kick-ass driveway workout was the genesis of a series of short and sweet training videos Nicole and I will do over the coming weeks and months to provide those looking for quick, easy, and compelling ways to get and stay strong. Each video will feature tips and tricks combined with a bit of humor (at a minimum, we'll laugh at ourselves) and hopefully inspiration. We're excited to put some stuff out there and get your feedback on what additional resources we can provide to help navigate and invigorate your fitness journey.
I hope you'll check out Nicole's bio to learn more about her.
With that probably excessively long personal story as a prelude and context, Nicole and I are excited to introduce Women@Work(outs)! This whole Women@Work(outs) thing is a massive opportunity for collaboration, idea sharing, good crowd-sourced stories, and more. We hope you’ll be in touch with questions or suggestions or advice. This is a great topic and I’m excited to engage with everyone on it. Let us know what you think—what are your favorite workouts and tips?
Give me 20!
Guiding principles for getting strong
There’s no shortage of fitness advice out there from a huge myriad of sources. Despite all of that, women of all shapes, sizes, and ages suggested this topic was something we should include as part of the broader Women@Work platform, particularly given its importance in creating and cultivating your personal brand and powering your effectiveness at work. Just like men, babies, and fashion, fitness definitely isn't new, but most of the content and advice that exists don't get specific about how to optimize your fit factor as part of advancing your personal success as a working woman. We wanted to get specific. I believe that in the journey to maximize your own economic advancement and self-reliance, there’s nothing more critical or actionable.
To get us started in thinking and talking about the topic, I want to pass along a list of guiding principles that have worked well for me. I learned all of these from the best—my most admired colleague, coach, and friend who encouraged me to write Men@Work and start this whole Women@Work initiative. A former professional athlete, he’s the one who really taught me how to work out like I know what I'm doing. I would NEVER in a million years know how to be in shape with my work-family lifestyle if it weren’t for him. I would NEVER have stuck it out all this time if it weren’t for him. Everyone needs someone to show them the way, and that’s what he’s done for me and through this platform, I’m hoping to do the same for you.
Anyone, anytime, anywhere fitness
Garanimals! Maybe a few of you older, wiser gals like me remember the beloved kids' apparel brand from the early 70s featured at Target? How cool were those?! For you younger gals who missed this hit trend, Garanimals was a mix-and-match clothes "system" based on cartoony versions of different animals that indicated what tops and bottoms could/should be worn together. Pick your favorite Garanimal and assemble a group of pieces that are guaranteed to go together. Let the mixing and matching begin!
Garanimals has become one of my favorite buzzword bingo terms, so I'm excited to be able to apply it here. :) The Women@Work(out) Wizard is meant to provide you an easy-to-use reference tool for creating your own Women@Work(out) puzzle that will have all the pieces you need to complete your picture. Because other times you might have access to equipment and sometimes might have to get creative and scrappy, I've included a model tailored to each scenario. By my math, this simple matrix gives you more than 15,000 possible workouts if you combine these in different ways. I bet even Garanimals couldn't do that!
Print it out. Keep it in your bag. Get active anytime, anywhere.
P.S. We think the Wizard might make a cool app. Imagine if you could input where you are (equipment or no) and how much time you have (15, 30, or 60 minutes) and have the app optimize a workout for you. What if your phone could guide you through the collection of optimized activities, prompting you from one to the next? Beyond the auto-generated workouts, what if you could track activity over time and see how you compare with your fellow superhero(ines)? Is this something you could find valuable? Have you seen anything like this that already exists? What else would you want it to do? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think!