Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

SWET-wur-king: Business networking while taking physical exercise and so working up a sweat. Me: “Alexa, define sweatworking.”

Alexa: “Networking is… “

Me: “NO, Alexa, not networking, sweat-wor-king.”

Alexa: “There is no dictionary reference to sweatworking. Networking is…”

Me: “Stop, Alexa. Never mind…”

SWET-wur-king: Business networking while taking physical exercise and so working up a sweat.
For those who haven’t heard of this trend, sweatworking (according to Wikipedia®) is: “Business networking while taking physical exercise and so working up a sweat. This way of working originated in the USA and started to be promoted in London in 2012, where gyms offered facilities and sessions of this kind.”

There was a time when networking meetings were conducted in boardrooms, offices, restaurants, and weather permitting, golf courses. Men in business suits and ties (or checkered golf pants and short brimmed hats) sat around talking business, meeting new contacts and discussing or closing deals. 

Granted, these events still happen, BUT the younger generations are trying to change how networking is done. They are finding ways to combine business and health at the same time. There is a big push on these days to “be healthy.” People are encouraged to eat healthier, exercise, and in general, just try to develop a healthier lifestyle. It’s hard, especially with the ever-mounting demands on our time.  The younger generations have solved the problem with Sweatworking.

The boardrooms, offices, restaurants and golf courses of the past are being replaced by spin classes, lap swimming pools, weight rooms, yoga, gyms and jogging tracks. Alcohol (as in the three martini lunch) is being replaced by enhanced water, nutrition shakes and juices. 

There is a good, psychological theory as to why sweatworking is successful. When you are  all dressed in your best business attire – i.e. ties, business suits (men’s and women’s) shiny shoes and perfect hair we tend to be more reserved and less open to negotiating and new ideas.  Sweatworking tends to tear down the walls and open the channels of communication. It’s hard to be stuffy and reserved when you are wiping the sweat off your forehead with the damp, smelly towel that’s been hanging around your neck all during class. As an added bonus, the endorphins released during exercise help increase creativity. 

As strange as this may sound to some of us, businesses are embracing sweatworking. As you can imagine, it may be difficult to talk while spinning, jogging, swimming, stretching or lifting. Gyms are starting to offer free Wi-Fi and meeting corners were two or three people can get together and discuss whatever business they need to. Boutique gyms (those small spaces that just offer one type of class like spinning, yoga or weight training), are starting to do the same thing, and a lot of these places are also adding additional charging stations for any devices that need to operate while business is being discussed. 

Some of these places even offer exclusive sweatworking classes. (Think of BNI on spin bikes or doing free weights). These fitness businesses are also partnering with regular businesses that participate in sweatworking to offer reduced rates for classes. 

Sweatworking has proven to be flexible and can be tailored to fit whoever wants to use it.  Some new home builders and contractors host yoga classes at open houses. A production company in New York takes their clients to a cardio dance class. Medical equipment reps take clients and prospective clients to spin and weight classes. 

However, if you do decide to offer an invitation to someone, be aware of these three things:

1) – Make sure the class or activity can be enjoyed by everyone. For example, don’t take someone with a broken arm to a weight lifting class. Everyone has different physical levels of ability, so try to pick a class that enables them to take a break if necessary. Yoga or spin classes are good for this.
2) – Make sure you inform your guest as to what they need to bring. Water shoes are great for swimming or water aerobics, but aren’t that great for spin class.  Proper preparation will help them relax and have a good time. 
3) – Let your guest know the benefits of sweatworking. Besides the obvious of benefiting their waistline and/or heart, explain about the rush of endorphins and adrenaline that help with creativity and focus. 

One piece of advice is do not turn the activity into a competition. Keep it fun and relaxed. You want your guest to still respect you and want to do business with you when it’s over.

Granted, sweatworking isn’t for everyone, but it has grown hugely popular over the last seven years. Don’t be surprised if you run across it fairly soon. Even if you think it’s not for you, keep an open mind. What have you got to lose?

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at