The Common Lessons of Leadership and Fitness: 5 Reasons Leaders Run Their Offices Like My Gym


In 1996 I began my career in fitness working weekends at Xercise Incorporated as a floor trainer. My responsibilities included opening the facility at 5 AM, showing members how to use the exercise equipment, personal training any clients I could sign up and closing the facility at 6 PM.

The lessons I learned as a floor trainer have merged with my experiences as a sales manager at NCR to form the prism through which I view the qualities of leadership today as a speaker and coach. Some of the common lessons lead me to believe that your office should be more like my gym:

  1. At the gym, trainers understand what it means to be “open for business,” and their thoughts switch from to home life to fitness. At the office, leaders understand that when the work light is lit, it’s time to shift the transmission into sport mode, show up on time and be ready to rock.
  1. At the gym, trainers develop professionally designed exercise programs and use well-maintained, specialized equipment to get the best results possible for their clients. At the office leaders use best-in-class tools and systems including Skype, high-end smart phones, CRMs, tablets, GoToMeeting and notebooks to maximize their effectiveness.
  1. At the gym, trainers don’t ask their clients to do the hardest exercises at the end of their routines when they are fatigued and are most at risk for injuries. At the office, leaders don’t wait till the end of the day to begin difficult projects.
  1. At the gym trainers check their schedules before going home to see which clients they will train and what classes they will teach the next day. Leaders check their calendars to see what appointments lie ahead, what resources they will need and where they need to be the following day.
  1. At the gym, trainers close up shop by tidying things up for the next day’s members…re-racking, weights, emptying trashcans and stacking exercise mats. At the office, leaders organize their workspace by arranging papers and files, closing their computers and neatening things up for the next day’s challenges.

At the office what techniques, methods or habits have you developed to amp up productivity, effectiveness and profitability?







By |2014-11-14T16:41:37+00:00November 14th, 2014|Fitness, Success|4 Comments

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  1. Lori Boxer November 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Excellent article, Joe; enjoyed it. Although I am not a fitness trainer, I spent over 20 years in the ivory tower of the corporate world, and I can suggest one more bullet point to yours above: Good business leaders push their employees to their limits while keeping them motivated. In business, you have to make sure your employees are challenged, and given tasks, assignments, projects even beyond their scope sometimes so they can maximize their potential, and realize they had more inside of them then even they themselves knew they were capable of. You don’t let your employees accept “I can’t.” You show them how. That is how you instill loyalty, create a healthy corporate culture, and maintain quality employees. In the gym, I would imagine a quality fitness trainer absolutely refuses to let his or her clients say, “I can’t.” He/she pushes their clients just a wee bit past where they’re comfortable each week, and the weeks pass … and the months pass … and before you know it, their clients are doing that which on the first day they said they’d never be able to do.

    Again, I really enjoyed your blog. I’ll look forward to the next one.

    Lori Boxer
    Weight★No★More℠ Diet Center

    • Joe Stein November 19, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Hi Lori, Thank you for your kind words about my blog, and I appreciate you as a reader and as a fellow health/wellness pro.

      I always tell my Personal Training Clients as well as my Health & Lifestyle Coaching Clients that their lives will begin where their comfort zone ends. When I was a Sales Manager at NCR and folks would complain about their quotas being too high, I would tell them they’re capable of making their numbers by kicking their game into another gear through focus, dedication, creativity and persistence. Just like training one’s body, training one’s spirit can benefit from stretching, too.

  2. Liz Gearon November 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    When I have to focus on a project, I close out my email and turn off my phone so I won’t be distracted by anything that isn’t related to the task at hand. Then I set a deadline (1-2 hours) for finishing my work and checking emails / voice mails. Allowing myself regular breaks keeps me motivated to stay 100% focused while working.

    • Joe Stein November 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Hi Liz, Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Your ability to focus on the important task at hand is one of the reasons you are as successful as you are. Over the past year, I’ve seem a lot of research on productivity and it all confirms we humans are not as good at multitasking as we think we are. As an ancient survival skill, our brains were designed to have fewer simultaneous inputs but with much greater depth of focus. Primordial design transcends technology almost every time.

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