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Yesterday evening I came across a post on the Fast Company blog. The post’s title is “The creative brain on exercise” and Jonathan Fields is its author. The post is about how exercise in the lunch break can improve your office performance. Check it out as it is really worth a read. As an employee in a company which is by nature sporty and as a person who knows both the desire for physical movement as well as inner temptation, let me share some thoughts and expert tips which I gathered for you. Isn’t everyone interested in achieving a reasonable work-live-balance after all?

Probably the post drew my attention because I feel that I haven’t had enough exercise recently. The post caused a thoroughgoing desire in me to go for a run (let me know if it did the same with you). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do so as I had promised earlier to catch up with a couple of colleagues from abroad to have a traditional Bavarian dinner. However, on the way to the restaurant I especially thought about the special circumstances we have here at the adidas Group when it comes to sports.

The perfect conditions for an active lunch break

Adi Dassler Stadium

The Adi Dassler Stadium at the World of Sports

Probably you can imagine that we have by nature a very sporty company culture. Dealing day after day with the development, creation and marketing of sports products requires an abundant passion for this topic in order to be successful.

Our company sports department offers more than 120 sports classes and events – alone here in Herzogenaurach. There are various sports facilities at the World of Sports (this is the name of our headquarters’ campus) such as a beach volleyball court as well as a tennis court and even a football stadium with a running track. There are many employees who regularly take advantage of these facilities or who just go for a run through the countryside which surrounds the headquarters. The flexible working time model of the adidas Group certainly helps this, too.

The adidas Group's employee restaurant "Stripes"

The adidas Group's employee restaurant is called "Stripes"

But at the same time the employee restaurant is crowded to overflowing at lunchtime. There is a lot of yummy food…which can admittedly make you sedate and weary from time to time. Who doesn’t know the desire for a nap after a tasty and rich lunch? On the other hand, a work-out instead of a wearying lunch feels so good.

Overcoming the weaker self

Probably it is just our weaker self which prevents us from going for a run instead of going for a pork knuckle. Probably it is our weaker self, too, which lets us find a hundred of bad excuses not to work out: “I shouldn’t have a flashed head when I go to this important meeting after lunch”, “Actually I feel a little bit sick and I shouldn’t expect too much from my immune system”, “I’d like to go for a run but I need to catch up with some colleagues for a Bavarian dinner”, etc.

These thoughts forced me to watch out for colleagues who are working out during lunchtime in order to ask them about their motivation and how they overcome their inner temptation – I am sure they have it sometimes, too. Maybe these tips will help us other victims of ourselves to echo this motivation; or do these colleagues maybe just have a lack of creativity in finding excuses?

Expert tips on motivation 

My first destination is the Reebok office complex because I know the employees there are doing CrossFit pretty much every day. I meet Drake, who is Reebok’s CrossFit expert and head coach.

Drake during a CrossFit session

Drake and one of his CrossFit groups

The CrossFit program is all about overcoming your weaker self, it instills self-confidence and a competitive spirit in individuals that participate,” says Drake. “We start individuals that are new to the program with an ‘On-Ramp’ program that teaches some fundamental movements and integrates them into the group and then we bring them into the group and welcome them with open arms. CrossFit is infinitely scalable so it does not matter how strong or how fit you are, everyone can work together and celebrate individual accomplishments. That’s what it is all about.”

According to Drake, “the beauty of CrossFit is that it changes your entire makeup. You may feel tired after the workout for the first few weeks but once you start adapting to the changes that come, you will feel better – both physically and mentally. Everyone that has joined the program speaks of renewed energy and spirit following the workout of the day”.

This is Drake

So I wonder what is Drake’s ultimate tip; apart from doing sport in a group in order to celebrate together individual accomplishments and to gain self-confidence via sports.

You should foster a healthy lifestyle which includes not only sports but also healthy nutrition,” says Drake. “That’s why we also offer nutritional counselling within the group since we know that an individual has 23 hours left in the day to screw up everything they accomplished in one hour of CrossFit.”

My next stop is the Adi Dassler Stadium where I meet Martin who is just about to go for a run. He has a very convincing answer to my question how he overcomes his weaker self: “My boss asked me to go for a run”. Full stop. Can you think of a better motivation? However, Martin admits that it is fun, too, and that exercise helps him to break up the day.


That's a very convincing smile considering where Juergen is "hanging out"

Moving to the inner part of the stadium, I get hold of Juergen who just finished his gymnastic exercise. He tells me that he had problems due to a back injury which forced him many years ago to pause from sports. At some point he realized that he just felt too tired and unbalanced and started to gently increase the quantity and intensity of his work-outs. These days, Juergen takes his bike to ride to the office every single day, instead of the car, and he has some exercise in his lunch break as often as possible.

“Being out of the office helps me to find some distraction from job matters. And pretty often I find solutions for problems I was already thinking quite a bit about before. It is all about being effective; at work and at home because the evening is for my family. Doing my exercise during lunchtime enables me to come up to this principle without feeling bad because I didn’t have my exercise.”


Stefan is the guy in the black shirt

My last stop on my little research tour is the football pitch. Stefan is one of the guys who regularly catch up for a lunchtime game. “My best advice is to find some comrades-in-arms. It is much more fun to play sports together, plus they will kick your butt if you dare to cancel your appointment. We don’t overdo it on the pitch and we are not too competitive. It is more about the social factor and about getting back to the desk without being too exhausted.”

Summary: 4 + 1 tips to defeat inner temptation

  • Define a clear goal why you want to work out during lunchtime. There are heaps of good reasons to overcome your inner temptation. There are some named above. Which one fits you the best is your choice.
  • Then strive for regular routine and fixed appointments with colleagues.
  • Foster a holistically healthy lifestyle which includes paying attention to what you eat.
  • When you see the first results, celebrate them to stay motivated.
  • The  +1 tip: If all these tips don’t help either, force your boss to ask you to go for a run.

What is your ultimate tip to overcome inner temptation? If you don’t have one, what is your most creative excuse not to work out at lunchtime?

Let me close with a sentence I saw on one of Reebok’s office walls: “It is a passion, not a chore”.