5 Business Lessons You Can Learn From Your Work Out


“In life and in fitness …”

I start more sentences that way than I care to admit, probably as a result of the four years I spent figuring out how to quit my job, build the team that writes aSweatLife.com and force my way into becoming a subject matter expert on the burgeoning studio fitness scene.

I’ve found - in my research, in building my business, in the classes that I teach - that the way a person handles the stress inflicted on her body in a particularly tough training session, is parallel to how she’ll perform in other intense situations.

And in that sweat you leave on the floor at the gym, there are some pretty big lessons that you can take into business.


Work to failure

In the gym, you get your biggest gains from failing. You work until your body quits and it’s in that moment of perceived weakness that you get stronger. Your body rebuilds and next time you try, it’s capable of more. It’s easy to try to avoid those moments – to avoid failure by only playing in territory that’s familiar and a little less risky.

In business, moments of failure, but more importantly how you deal with that failure, are the times you get stronger and break past your limits.


Set goals and achieve them

There’s that moment three seconds from the end of a set when a trainer starts to count down, shouting “Three, two, one …”

The second she says the word, “three,” half of the class stops what they’re doing because the end is a couple of seconds away. I’d argue that those last three seconds are the most important. There’s a grit in finishing what you started.

Even if it’s just for your own benefit, make it a habit to complete the things you start –unless those things detract from your overall goal.


There’s a difference between choices and chances

Once in a while you get lucky and you make a free throw after a three-year hiatus from the basketball court. That’s chance. When fortune favors you, be ready to pounce.

The rest of the time, realize that it’s up to you to choose the right path, the hard path, the path that will make you stronger. The choices that you make determine what kind of life, what kind of success and what kind of business relationships you’ll have. Lean more heavily on choice than chance.


The everything-hurts-and-I’m-dying feeling isn’t forever

There comes a point in a tough workout at which you think to yourself, “This is terrible and I can’t go on.” But you can and you do. Maybe you have to shake your legs out a little bit (which, by the way, does absolutely nothing) or take a sip of water, but you get back in the game and you finish what you started.

The thing known as the trough of sorrow in a startup is very real, but there are also tough projects, budget shortfalls and other stressful business events that feel like they’re going to last forever. Hang onto why you started and be resilient enough to make it through those times.


Everything is better with friends

There’s a reason why group fitness has exploded in popularity over the past four years. Human beings crave connection and community. Even if you talk to no one in your hour-long workout, the energy of the group around you is going to push you to try harder without even realizing it.

When I started aSweatLife.com, I wanted to share the group fitness classes that I loved, but it ended up being a lonely pursuit. I was spending hours working by myself, talking to readers I’d never met.

When I finally accepted help, built a team, nurtured partnerships and started to actively pursue real-life community, things got exponentially more fun.

In life and in fitness, it’s not going to be easy, but if you’ve made the right choices and surround yourself with the right team, you’ll end up solving the kind of problems that make you jump out of bed each morning.

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Michael Bloomberg Can’t Handle A Woman With A Voice (aka Elizabeth Warren)

Elizabeth Warren majorly called out "arrogant billionaire" Michael Bloomberg for his history of silencing women through NDAs and closed-door settlement negotiations. Sound familiar? Probably because we already have a president like that. At this point, Bloomberg may just spend the remainder of his (hopefully) ill-fated presidential campaign roasting on a spit over a fire sparked by the righteous anger of women. A lesser punishment than he deserves, if you ask me.

At last night's Democratic debate, Michael Bloomberg could barely stammer out an answer to a question on whether or not he would release any of his former accusers from their nondisclosure agreements. His unsatisfactory response was basically a halting list of what he has done for certain nondescript women in his time at City Hall and within his own company.

But that certainly wasn't enough for Elizabeth Warren, nor should it be, who perfectly rephrased his defense as, "I've been nice to some women." Michael Bloomberg is basically that weird, problematic Uncle that claims he can't be racist, "Because I have a Black friend." In a society where power is almost always in the hands of straight, white, cisgendered, men being "nice" to a lucky few is in no way a defense for benefiting from and building upon the systematic silencing of all marginalized communities, let alone women. Stop and frisk, anybody?

Here is a brief clip of the Warren v. Bloomberg exchange, which I highly recommend. It is absolutely (and hilariously) savage.

But let's talk about the deeper issues at hand here (other than Warren being an eloquent badass).

Michael Bloomberg has been sued multiple times, yet each time he was able to snake his way out of the problem with the help of his greatest and only superpower: cold, hard cash. Each time these allegations have come up, in Warren's words, he throws "a chunk of money at the table" and "forces the woman to wear a muzzle for the rest of her life."

As reported by Claire Lampen of The Cut, here are just a few of his prior indiscretions.

  • Pregnancy discrimination—Bloomberg reportedly told a former employee of his to "kill it," in reference to her developing fetus.
  • Sexual harassment—You could literally write a book on this subject (someone did), but for the sake of brevity...
"I'd like to do that piece of meat" - Michael Bloomberg in reference to various women at his company.
  • Undermining #MeToo—Not only did he defend the accused, but he went on the disparage accusers every step of the way.
  • Defaming transgender people—Though he claims to support trans rights, he has also been qupted multiple times as referring to trans women as "some guy wearing a dress."
Yeah... That's not a winning formula for me, Mike.

Furthermore, Warren points out the simple fact that if, as Bloomberg claims, these instances were simply big misunderstandings (He was just joking around!) then why go to all the trouble to cover them up? Does Michael Bloomberg think women can't take a joke? Or can we only surmise that the truth of these events are far darker and dirtier than we could even imagine?

Certain commentators have called Elizabeth Warren's debate presence "agressive," especially in regards to this instance but also continually throughout her entire campaign. If asking poignant questions to known abusers who are seeking to further their own political power is considered "aggressive," then I am here for it. Bring on the aggressive women, please and thank you.

Calling a woman aggressive for being confidant and direct is a gendered complaint. You don't see anyone whining that Bernie is "aggressive" when he goes off on a screaming tangent. Also, have you seen our president? He's basically the poster boy for political temper tantrums. But still, it's Warren that is deemed "aggressive," for honing in on the exact issues that need to be considered in this upcoming election.

This type of derisory label is another aspect of how our society silences women—much like Bloomberg and his NDAs. Because "silencing" is more than just putting a "muzzle" on someone. It's refusing to listen to a person's cries for help. It's disregarding what a woman has to say, because she's too "aggressive." It's taking away someone's power by refusing to truly hear their side of the story. Because if you aren't listening, responding, or even just respecting someone's words, they may well have said nothing at all.

"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard." - Renecca Solnit

Nondiscolusure agreements are a legal gag for people who have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of those above them.

Gretchen Carlson, possibly the most famous person subject to an NDA, is one of these people. Her story is so well-known that it has even been immortalized on film, in 2019's Bombshell. Yet she is still forced to maintain her silence. She cannot tell her side of the story even when Hollywood can. She was cajoled into her current position after facing harassment in her workplace. She didn't have the power then to do more than accept her fate. And now, she doesn't have the power to tell her story.

She was, and still is being, silenced.

After her experiences, Carlson was moved to fight for all women to have the power over their truths. In a recent op-ed for the New York Times she declared: "I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."

Carlson may still be tied to her NDA, but there are those who go a different route. Celeste Headlee, who wrote an op-ed on SWAAY about her experience, chose to break her nondisclosure agreement. Though doing so undoubtedly opened her up to numerous legal ramifications, she knew that she could no longer "sign away [her] right to justice."

Because that is what an NDA is all about, signing away a person's right to justice. Their story is their justice. Their NDA is a lock and key. Headlee may have broken through that lock, but she must face the consequences.

Neither Carlson nor Headlee are any less brave for how they have handled their journeys. They are both actively working to shift the cultural and political norms that led them here, and their work will, with hope and time, lead to real change. But they are just two drops in an ocean of women who are held hostage by their nondisclosure agreements, by men like Michael Bloomberg, and by a society that would rather silence them than let truth and justice be had.