Now that football season is over, I wonder how much productivity increase there will be with the decline in fantasy leagues and Monday morning quarterbacking.  Regardless, here is one football player we can take with us year long.

Dealing with change management, I’ve lost count how many times I wanted to add an office linebacker to my team.

I have an upcoming article on the Iraq War, Shades of Thermopylae, but I wanted to go ahead and pass on the link to a blog hosting an excellent documentary and comment section.

You can find that here (graphic content warning).

If the US media could pull themselves away from astronauts in diapers, Anna Nicole Smith’s death, and Britney Spears shaving her head and getting a tattoo and going panty-less we might actually learn something about foreign policy other than “stay the course.”

In the 1970’s the number of gyms was in short supply, mostly catering to bodybuilders, what with the popularity of Pumping Iron and the golden age with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Aside from places like Gold’s Gym Venice and Muscle Beach, most gyms were dark hole’s in the wall places. Now there are a multitude of options, appealing to the most discerning user.

1. Location – At one point I lived 30 minutes from the nearest gym and I made the trip, for most however, this is a convenient way to talk themselves out of going. When picking a gym, location should be a primary deciding factor. You should also ask when are you going to work out. Before or after work, in the morning, afternoon or evening. You will want to choose a location that is either close to home, work or in between. This will not only cut down on gas consumption, but increase the odds you will maintain a solid routine.

2. Gym culture – You may be asking yourself, “gym culture?” That’s right, most gyms have their own culture, remember above I was talking about the hole in the wall bodybuilding gym, those still exist. A number of gyms or ‘fitness centers’ attempt to cater to the family environment. Typically Bally’s, 24 Hour Fitness, Lifetime and LA Fitness appeal to this demographic with a gentler environment and childcare centers, although there are exceptions inside these establishments that lean toward bodybuilding as well. There are female specific gyms like Curves, senior gyms, kids gyms, personal training studios and the list goes on.

3. Interests – This is based largely on what you like to do. Are you a weightlifter, cardio enthusiast, aerobics, or swimming? By shopping around you will find a gym or health club that meets your needs. If you are not sure what those may be, stick to a general all-purpose location.

4. Traffic – This is another factor that is based on when you decide to work out. For most of us the options are limited based on work schedules. When you are taking a tour be sure to ask when the busier times are (as is expected it will genearlly be between 4pm and 8pm on weekdays).

5. Staff – Whether or not you decide to get a personal trainer, it is one thing you should consider before joining a club. Ask to see the qualifications of the trainers, before and after pictures, and whether or not you can bring your own trainer with you. Also health clubs, as with car salesmen, believe in two things the hard sell and never trust the “be back,” meaning if you don’t sign up when you first walk in you won’t be back after shopping around. If you have seen the movie BoilerRoom you know what I am talking about. This is a direct reflection of the organizations culture and an indication of the customer service you are likely to expect in the future. In a future post, I will highlight some of the tricks the health and fitness industry use to get your signature and credit card.

Tips and Tricks:

One tip I would suggest that I use periodically when choosing a new gym is the guest pass. After taking the tour and listening to the sales speil, I ask the salesman/fitness counselor for a couple days pass to see how I like the gym. Most places don’t like to do this, but if they feel you will eventually sign up they will relent at least a three day trial. Take this opportunity not only to work out, but ask other patrons how they like the club.

One other thing about membership sales. Most likely any club you join will have multiple packages, single-club, all-club, super club premier. When choosing, this is the time to be rational and not practice Sam’s Club bulk-shopping. Why buy the 10 gallon drum of peanut butter if you are allergic, so don’t get nationwide access if you will only use one club.

Thanks for reading and good luck. Feel free to check out the rest of the Healthier You Series.

Next: How to Pick the Right Personal Trainer

Earlier this week State Farm Insurance stated it would no longer write new homeowner’s policies in the state of Mississippi given the losses they suffered during Hurricane Katrina and the lawsuits it settled. Now the state Attorney General, Jim Hood, who believes insurers are responsible for hurricane damages regardless of the cause or policy statement, is seeking legislation aimed at blocking this move by the insurance giant.

He said the plan is modeled after actions by Florida and would require any company that writes automobile insurance in Mississippi to also write homeowners policies. Hood said Friday that he had asked Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Insurance Commissioner George Dale to issue emergency orders requiring insurance companies to continue writing home policies until the state legislature can act. He said he had not had any response from either Barbour or Dale.

So now apparently the government can dictate what service offerings a company must participate in, when will they start telling us what career we must pursue? Just hold out your hand, the chip won’t hurt a bit. Besides, you gotta do what you gotta do!

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Again, I don’t like to deviate much from my typical topics here at The Higher Bar but some things are hard to ignore. In the near future I will be contributing to another blog where I will cover such social issues on the media, policy and religion just to name a few. This particular post has to do with the popular media and their drastic need for improvement.

Who: CNN Headline News

When: 02/16/2007 -9:56am

What: Following the story covering a South Korean woman who sang 59 straight hours (Monday through Valentines Day) of kareoke for her dying husband, they transition to a story of a 4-ton rampaging elephant in Sri Lanka.

Segue: “They weren’t songs of love, but screams of fear as a a four-ton elephant went wild.”

From Slashdot,

“New survey data suggests that Americans are split over whether Blackberrys are chaining them to work. While people who own Blackberries feel ‘more productive’, those with Blackberrys are more likely to work longer hours and feel like they have less personal time than those without. A Director of Marketing Strategies who owns a Blackberry pointed out that many employees feel obligated by employers who have handed out the devices. ‘While being always on in a social context is a natural for young people, many of those in the 25-54 age group with families and corporate jobs are struggling with work-life blending. There is a need for the mainstream workplace culture to offer ways to counterbalance.'” Is the constantly connected, often mobile nature of the modern workplace a good thing, or not?

At the height of juggling two projects, I learned to sleep with my Treo next to the alarm clock a few feet from my head. Often waking long enough during the night to check my email once. Colleagues would often tell me and others they would be available 24 hours a day. It became almost impossible to enjoy a meal whether it be breakfast at 7am or dinner at 8pm on a Saturday evening.

The amount of stress associated with being constantly connected is well documented. Work-life balance is severely diminished and the ability to make rational decisions, when inundated with constant communication, decreases. The nature of information for the 21st century has also increased productivity expectations beyond what is attainable. Could this lead to our inability to concentrate or perhaps something more?

From Dr. Richard Restak’s, The New Brain,

“The demands upon the human brain right now are increasing,” according to Todd E. Feinberg, a neurologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “For all we know, we’re selecting for the capacity to multi-task.”

Feinberg’s comment about “selecting” gets to the meat of the issue. At any given time evolution selects for adaptation and fitness to prevailing environmental conditions. And today the environment demands the capacity to do more than one thing at a time, divide one’s attention, and juggle competing, often conflicting, interests.

To not surprise, this has been associated with the growing prevalence of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) among younger populations, but could it also be once step in approaching the competency for chaos?

Related Articles:

Want Results? Frame Your Work – from lifehack.org

Take a Poll at Lifehacker.com

Here are some good time wasting quizzes courtesy of Fortune and CNN Money. My personal favorites:

What kind of manager are you?

Are you a good decision-maker?

How good a boss are you?

Surviving office politics

What’s Your EQ (emotional intelligence) at Work?

Of course you can’t base your management strategy solely on a quiz and they are only effective so far as you don’t figure out the methodology, but, if honestly answered, they could provide some general insight into your management and corporate environment. Of course if you want honest feedback you should ask subordinates, superiors and friends. If you work in an organization where such things are frowned upon, that should tell you something.