Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have an onsite fitness facility at work. Maybe your company sponsors a softball or bowling team. Or maybe you just occasionally cross paths with co-workers at a nearby gym or park.
Sharing a common interest — in this case, your passion for fitness — can forge subtle bonds with colleagues that boost teamwork and trust. But when work and workouts mix, forget no pain, no gain: a figurative misstep at the gym could actually be painful to your career.
Here are a few trickier etiquette tips to store in your gym bag:
If I see someone doing an exercise incorrectly, possibly dangerously, and no staff are around, do I speak up? What if it’s someone I recognize from work?
Mostly, mind your own business, advises Mandy Stogner, health and wellbeing consultant for Colonial Life. “If someone is in immediate need of assistance or in danger and may hurt themselves, help the person out. But if someone is simply doing an exercise wrong or using improper form, don’t offer unsolicited advice unless you’re a certified and insured trainer or have proper exercise education.”
How much is it OK to sweat and return to work without a shower?
“If you perspire while exercising, it’s always best to shower or freshen up out of courtesy for your co-workers,” Stogner advises, “even if it’s just a quick wipe with a washcloth and some mild soap.”
So, a quick walk during your break? You’re probably OK. A group fitness class, heavy resistance training or a moderate to vigorous run? Hit the shower or plan to work out after-hours.
My manager is OK with me flexing my hours a bit to allow a workout in the morning or at lunch. Do you I owe my co-workers an explanation?
If you’re delivering quality results, hitting deadlines and not asking them to cover for you, no explanations are required.
“If you’re worried they don’t know why you’re missing from your desk, you could casually invite them to come to the gym with you,” Stogner suggests. “Maybe they’ll start to admire your discipline rather than perceive your absence as slacking off.”
How much skin is “in” — or more to the point, out?
If it’s a corporate- or employer-sponsored fitness center, err on the conservative side, Stogner says. Stick with loose-fitting shorts or pants and a t-shirt or athletic top with athletic sneakers. Save the booty shorts and six-pack-baring tops for workouts away from work.
Is it OK to ask a business question while someone is working out or is that super-annoying?
“If the co-worker says it’s OK, then keep it short and to the point,” Stogner says. When in doubt, keep business matters outside of the gym, he adds. “People come to the gym to escape their desk for the little time that they have. Respect their free time and send them an email or try to catch up with them later.”