Many of us are not fortunate enough to make a living out of the sport and lifestyle that we love.  We don’t work at or own our own hardcore gym…we aren’t strength coaches or professional athletes.  For the most part, each day, countless numbers of my brothers and sisters in iron are required to enter into various corporate settings and work with people who seem to not just accept but embrace physical mediocrity.   It is hard for us not to stand out because chances are likely that we are twice the size of the average corporate stiff…and personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way; however, we have to accept the fact that…thanks to Planet Fitness and organizations like them…we are wrongly stereotyped as a bunch of muscle bound idiots that barely have the mental dexterity to mix our protein drinks.  We, of course, know that this is far from the truth.

Our challenge on the job is to make certain that the biggest focus of our supervisors, our colleagues and especially our customers is on our work performance…not how we look or other aspects of our lifestyle.  People who “stand out” or “don’t fit the mold” in ways that are not conducive to the type of culture your corporation is attempting to uphold are typically looked upon as liabilities.  Managers will, at times, tolerate liabilities but will not go out of their way to make certain they are successful…some managers will even carve out these liabilities without making the effort to fully understand what kind of asset they could potentially become.  The point of this article is to make certain that the perception you give to those who have influence over your working conditions is as positive as possible.  I want them to see our intensity, commitment, teamwork and relentless pursuit of achievement…all things that are indicative of strength sports and are highly beneficial in a business environment.  Don’t give them the stereotype…give them the impression that you are a driven employee who has the skills to really deliver results for them.

So here they are…7 lessons for corporate survival and making good impressions…in no particular order:

Lesson #1: Wear a freaking undershirt.  Unless you want to look like you are pissing out of your armpits, this is extremely necessary.   Nothing will make your boss reevaluate your promotability than seeing you with pit rings down to your waistline.   No amount of deodorant can cover up what could easily be alleviated by a $10.00 pack of fruit of the looms…unfortunately, “beaters” don’t typically do the trick.

Lesson #2: At Business Lunches, eat like everyone else.  The purpose of a business lunch is typically productive dialogue…NOT nourishment.  I really can’t give you much advice on how to order from the menu appropriately…however, it might be best to simply watch what your colleagues are ordering and parallel their meal choices. Buffets create a different problem given the fact that most of us look at a buffet as a formal challenge to our appetite’s ego rather than “just another meal.” I suggest that you load your plate with approximately half as much as you normally would and then, after the meal is over, drive through MacDonald’s on your way back to the office.

Lesson #3: Read the policy on casual day very carefully.  Typically, casual day does not involve cut off camouflage pants, a workout T-shirt and a hat on backwards.  Your co-workers will be wearing polo’s and khaki’s, I suggest that you go find a big and tall store and buy some casual clothes that fit the corporate policy.  Don’t worry, there isn’t a person in your office that will think that you’re a golfer.

Lesson #4: Don’t “friend” co-workers…especially supervisors…on Facebook…unless you want them to be exposed to all of your meathead friends who don’t have a problem with online discussion regarding popping each other’s zits, jerking off in the bathroom, or death metal albums.  You have to realize that most people already think that you are a freak…no need to further solidify that fact.

Lesson #5: Don’t talk training…there is no way that they are going to understand.  We are talking about normal people who fall a little lower than you on the food chain and don’t believe a car should be pushed if it is functioning properly…not to mention that they would be completely perplexed that someone would spend their spare time doing this for conditioning.  The last time most of the guys you work with were under anything over 300 pounds probably involved a lot of beer and a sorority party...not a monolift.    .

Lesson #6: When asked, move the furniture.  You might as well accept the fact that because  you are who you are, people are going to ask you to move things…office furniture, file cabinets, soda machines, etc.  Get over it.  It is actually a great thing to be your office’s resident forklift…remember, every time you go out of your way to help a co-worker, you earn favor points that can be cashed in at some point.  This will pay off…one way or another.

Lesson #7: Be calm and keep your intensity in check.  Regular people are intimidated by large people…who are not fat and jolly.  If you unleash the same intensity in the workplace that you do when you are chasing after a PR squat, you very well cause a co-worker to pee down their leg.  Although we would like to think that we have evolved beyond Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest, people typically shrink when they encounter a physically superior person.  It is our responsibility to make certain that they know that we are here for the business and to advance the company so they can stop waiting for us to explode into some over-dramatized ‘roid rage that they once saw on an afterschool special.  Christ, grow up people.

Bonus Lesson: It is impossible to hide a can of Skoal or Copenhagen in suit trousers.  If you are asked about that magic disk in your pocket, tell them it is a package of Icebreakers and no, they can’t have a piece.   One quick suggestion: don’t try the high school thing and hide it in your sock either…I did this once and the damn thing rolled out under the table in the middle of a meeting.  I had to come up with a pretty lame excuse to get under the table and extract it before someone noticed the tin of cowboy candy under their feet.  Keep it in your briefcase/backpack and bring it out only when you’re going to load up.

These are only a few of many lessons that I have learned…oftentimes the hard way…on how to survive in a formal, corporate workplace and get my co-workers to focus more on my results than my size. I am certain that there are many others and certainly hope that readers will share in the comments section.  In the end, it is my opinion that all businesses could benefit from the values and work ethic from those of us in the strength sports.  We simply have to open their eyes up to the tremendous aspects of what we do.