• Deborah

When I say my meeting is about to start, it means I'm late for tennis


Yes, I’ve been lying. That conference call wasn’t about to start, my meeting didn’t run long and I wasn’t on a deadline to get that spreadsheet over to the engineers by noon. I was zipping up my tennis skirt, lacing up my shoes and running off to hit balls with the ladies for my weekly Monday Morning Tennis Clinic. I admit it… I’m a mid-day Exerciser. And I feel guilty as sin about it.

Since mid-day tennis is a totally new thing for my lifestyle, I’m working out the kinks. Don’t get me wrong. I’m hooked — but if you saw how I obsessively I wipe the clay dust tracks off the kitchen floor each week, you’d begin to suspect that I was a hiding a body or two in the neighbor’s yard. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m betraying someone, somewhere. It feels so… illegal.

You see, although I live in on the west coast, I’m a east-coaster by training. I like to read books under an afghan, I keep pantyhose in an open-drawer in my closet just in case there’s an opportunity to done a pair of jet black control-tops, and on nights when my husband is out-of-town, I surf Burberry.com and fantasize about the woman I could be inside one of those trench coats (red pumps optional). Ever since I can remember, I’ve known that responsible adults take sweaty runs before breakfast or join 7 pm aerobics classes after work. But the hours between 9 – 5 are for the office, baby.

Or are they?

Sure, old rich white men, Sales Reps and famous actors skip out of the office for a golf game in the middle of the day and sure, they wear it as a badge of accomplishment but that’s because they own the Club (or the Hedge Fund or the Super PAC or the family crest lapel pin), they have a huge expensive account (we all know how many deals get closed over drinks ‘on the green) or they just got paid $250k to sport that new pair of Persols in the sun. What I’m trying to say is that women like me don’t do that kind of thing.

Sure, I enjoy a long “business lunch” as much as the next guy in the corner office but skirting away from my desk to play a quick round of Queen-of-the-Court? I saw “Working Girl” (okay, fine, full disclosure, I’ve seen it 13.75 times if you count last month’s TBS’s 11 pm showing) and there is no way Tess McGill would sacrifice her hard-earned promotion by choosing a 30-minute volley-drill over conferencing with China about a new radio station acquisition. Getting ahead means staying focused! Working long hours! Being the last one to leave the office! Throw in the demands of parenting (and the guilt of hiring babysitters to oversee homework-hour while you crunch numbers) and there’s NO good reason a working mom should leave her desk in the middle of the day to run around a large rectangle wearing a cute skirt.

Or is there?

Tess, Tess, Tess. We’ve learned so much since those awesome late ’80s (and I’m not only talking about shoulder-pad fashion). I’m talking science and the brain and creativity and work productivity. Turns out, I’m NOT getting ahead if I don’t work out during the day. “Body & Brain Fitness” is real:

You don’t need more bullet points, do you?! This isn’t rocket science. Exercise is like breathing. Turns out, you’re an idiot if you don’t do it. I know, I know. That sounds harsh coming from a woman who still negotiates with herself when fitting in a 30-minute power walk, 3-days a week, during her lunch break. I mean, I usually eat lunch at my desk, in front of my computer under the guise of “Advanced Productivity.” Even I have to re-read these articles regularly to remind myself I’m not just procrastinating and putting off that Investor Deck. (You knew those bullet points were links, right?).

Now, you’re asking “But When, Deb?” My life is so busy already. I haven’t got time to lunch at the table, let alone run along the street for 30 minutes. I’m trying to build a company. I’m trying to feed my family healthy food. I’m trying to keep a (relative) tamp-down on the clutter of our house. Where the hell am I going to slot in a 30 minute game of tennis?

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY!

Ignore that typo-ridden email from your boss. Don’t write another boring sentence in that power-point presentation. Stop checking the webstats on your blog. Get some exercise. And then, come back and do your work in half-the-time, at twice-the-quality, with a smile on your face and a pun in your step. Everyone will be happier for it.

I could go on for hours about the benefits of day-time exercise but my meetingis about to start…