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Fit to Be Tied

Great news! Just when you thought your job couldn’t possibly get any worse, corporate America has come up with a brand new way to make your workday even more miserable.

Introducing CrossFit, the “fast-growing fitness trend that combines weight lifting, gymnastics and endurance programs.”

Once upon a time, CrossFit was restricted to our nation’s gyms, but the news now is that this witless fitness nonsense has gained a toehold in the corporate world.

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I learned about the crazy CrossFit craze from a Jed Lipinski article in The New York Times. According to Mr. Lipinski, employers are offering their employees the opportunity to sweat and strain in the workplace in the belief that such group exercise programs will “bolster employee morale, improve productivity, and reduce health insurance premiums.” (They are forgetting it can also increase employee funeral expenses, but who cares about a random heart attack or two? It’s a convenient way to cut staffing costs, and cemetery plots are on the employee’s dime.)

Imagine the horror show your life will become when your company introduces a program that will have you and your co-workers sweating like the cursed employees of Colorado-based Datalogix, where a typical day can have these poor devils “thrusting 20-pound medicine balls overhead, while their Spandex-clad co-workers sprinted up and down the lobby’s carpeted staircase.”

In addition to the physical benefits of the CrossFit experience, it is said that working out improves working together. “If you can sweat and groan with your co-workers,” says a Datalogix exec, “you’ll have no problem working with them.”

Of course, this ignores the fact that you already sweat and groan with your co-workers, without ever picking up a pair of kettlebells. Dealing with that bunch of bonehead losers is enough to have you straining from morning to night.

And don’t think that simply being old or cranky or just plain busy is sufficient cause to be excused. Once upper management has it in their pointy little heads that working out is a good thing, you don’t stand a chance. This explains why Anne McKay, a 74-year-old employee at Reebok, another CrossFit-contaminated company, was reported to be “carrying five-pound sandbags beside Kenneth Gamble, a former running back for the Kansas City Chiefs and a Reebok executive whose sandbags of choice often exceed 100 pounds.”

Can you just imagine the pain and suffering you would endure if exercise madness came to your company — not so much from carrying sandbags, but from listening to the endless posturing and bragging about how many pounds your managers can carry. Besides, you work life is futile enough without having to do everything expected of you with a sandbag on your back.

If you ask me, the true heroes of the CrossFit craze are the employees who manage to escape the program and still keep their jobs. You may not want to go as far as Makimba Mimms, an information systems technician, who sued a training company and one of its employees, “contending that an especially intense CrossFit workout caused a condition in which muscle fibers deteriorate and enter the blood stream, leading to liver damage.”

Besides, you get all the liver damage you need with your nightly workouts at the bar of the Kit Kat Klub.

On the other hand, you could definitely emulate Datalogix employee Tim Shea, who has managed to excuse himself from the group grope because of his passion for hiking and mountain biking. “I like some more adventure with my workouts,” he explained. This is a logical excuse, but I’m not sure it will fly with your management. How could there be any activity more adventurous than spending an hour up close and physical with the members of your IT department, each geek outfitted head to toe in Spandex?

For anyone who has spent even a moment in corporate life, it is clear that the real problem with CrossFit activities is that even the slightest hint of non-cooperation can brand you as not a team player. And, sure enough, reporter Lipinski cites the CEO of another CrossFit crazed company, Neverware, who admits, “If someone didn’t join in, it caused problems.”

So, I guess, it’s up to you to decide which is the worse fate — building a six-pack with your co-workers or drinking a six-pack with your pals from the unemployment office. Kettlebell or Kettle One? Barbell or bar? If you choose the medicine ball, I won’t judge you. Personally, my favorite piece of exercise equipment is the corkscrew.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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