The Challenge


How might we create healthy communities within and beyond the workplace? read the brief


Workout Meeting

Redefine the "workout" by enabling people to work out together while actually working! Encourage people to exercise while meeting up for business by providing the necessary space, materials and support for physical activities in meeting areas.
Redefine the "workout" by enabling people to work out together while actually working! Encourage and enable people to move around and get fit while meeting up for business by providing the necessary space, materials and support for physical activities in meeting areas.

Companies can choose how much and what types of exercise-supporting equipment they want to invest in. For example, companies could set up several conference rooms with exercise machines in place of tables/chairs, or next to them (assuming these companies don't have their own on-site gyms the way some companies like Google and Nike do). They could still keep other typical meeting room items, like whiteboards, flipcharts, pens, etc. in case they're needed. They may choose to store a supply of fresh towels and drinking water for people to refresh themselves after. For smaller companies that aren't able, or don't want, to invest in expensive machines right away, they can simply place items like exercise ball, stress-reliever toys, exercise bands, small weights and yoga mats. Employees can also be encouraged to wear casual clothing or bring workout clothes to the office. Merely having some exercise equipment/accessories in the rooms would at least afford people the opportunity to do little office exercises, and create an atmosphere and office culture that encourages healthy living.

In some situations, meetings could begin with 10-15 minutes of exercise as a way of warming up while introducing the agenda. In others, the workouts might actually take place for the entire duration. Of course for practical reasons, not all meetings are suitable for having workout activities. But there are many situations where engaging in physical activities during the meeting is not distracting, and can actually help promote discussion and better work.

Possible use cases:
Initial introductory or kickoff meetings - as people are getting to know each other and learning how to work together, the workout can be a great icebreaker to get people more comfortable together while doing something unusual/silly.
Brainstorming sessions - studies have shown that physical activity can be important for stimulating mental capacities.
Presentations - why not watch that office video or slide presentation together while strolling on some treadmills rather than slouching in chairs?
What are the benefits of your concept for the individual and the employer?
Benefits for the individual: Be able to exercise their bodies while their brains are at work. One of the biggest hurdles to working out and being healthy currently is busy work schedules that prevent people from going to the gym. This concept helps fight that, as that employees are encouraged to and have more opportunities at work to move physically, exercise and get more fit, while being productive with work. Benefits for employer: This concept helps create an office culture and environment that promotes healthy living, encourage collaboration, and is responsible for positive improvements in employees' lives. Healthier employees tend to be happier, more productive and able/willing to contribute more to the organization.
What might the impact of your concept be and how might it be measured?
The impact is on improving the health and wellbeing of individuals within the organization through exercise and other physical movements. This can be measured by the usual medical assessments, such as improvements in a person's BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, weight loss (if that's the desired effect), muscle gain, losing inches, or other aspects of a person's physical exam. One could also observe whether overall energy levels are up. This concept also aims to encourage people to develop a habit for exercising and find ways of working out even in unconventional places. This may be measured by surveying employees after a period of time to check adoption rates, and see if anyone started working out more outside of the office environment, or have found other ways to physically move and get fit.
How might your concept be designed to scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?
1) Enroll the support of key individuals in the organization, such as management or more senior employees who can act as mentors to others. These individuals can start the trend of Workout Meetings at their company, and encourage others to follow. 2) Encourage people to keep track of their own behavior and health status online, and to share with other people, within and beyond the company. Many people like to share their personal/health goals with friends and family anyways, so this would just be one of the methods they use to achieve those goals. This may occur either through existing social networks, or organizations can set up their own section on the company site dedicated to this, or there may be an official Workout Meeting site. By hosting an online community, people and organizations can learn from each other on what works well, how to better adapt their existing office environments, and other tips to encourage further participation. 3) In many companies, meetings take place not just with internal teams, but also with other companies, partners, clients, vendors, etc. By exposing those people to this meeting style when they visit, they can bring the idea back to their own organizations and spread awareness. This concept could also expand into a service that connects different organizations together in partnership with local gyms. Meetings could be hosted at the gyms and help promote networking/collaboration across organizations.
How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?
Start off with lower-cost, lower effort materials, such as adding small dumbbells and exercise bands to a couple of conference rooms. Appoint a number of "leader" employees (these might be managers, more senior members of the organization, or particular charming individuals who tend to be able to rally others) to begin each of their meetings with little group exercises. As others observe what these leaders are doing, and see that the organization is encouraging this behavior, more will follow. To encourage participation, create a fun little game or competition out of it, where individuals or teams can earn points based on how many times they've done Workout Meetings. They may also earn points every time they share their progress with others online. This will help spread the word across communities beyond the workplace.


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Edmund Ng

November 15, 2013, 08:02AM
I can't wait to see employees getting more healthy by the day. I think the most important thing we need to change is not what kind of health products or equipments that we use but the mindsets of CEOs worldwide.

We need more studies into the increase productivity of workers when they are much more healthy. This would be the pivot that we need to overcome.

Edmund Ng


January 14, 2013, 15:04PM
I really like this idea - My own experience is that many people also use things like fiddling with a pen to help keep focus during meeting - Why not replace it with something more healthy?

At the same time, it will take serious work to build up etiquette around this concept in order to ensure that it isn't a distraction. I can imagine a lot of people getting frustrated and feeling (with justification) that the lady in the corner doing lunges isn't paying full attention - I guess that this is where prototyping comes in!

Asma B

January 16, 2013, 17:53PM
Great idea Diana- I especially like the idea of using these workouts as icebreakers to kickoff meetings. :)
Seth is right though in pointing out that it could lead to be a distraction in some scenarios, so definitely would have to be tested out. Maybe there could be certain cases where it wouldn't be allowed- say, the more serious meetings for example?

Meena Kadri

December 26, 2012, 21:51PM
Great thoughts here, Diana. And I especially like that it could still be done with low investment by the employer – simply by encouraging walking meetings, etc. Also digging your notion of gaming to motivate participation.

Diana Cheng

January 07, 2013, 06:38AM
Thanks, Meena. Hopefully there's more chance of implementation if organizations can try it out with lower risk/investment, or are able to adapt to their specific needs/environment.
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