By Steve Edwards

Spurred by the company president and P90® graduate Jon Congdon, Beachbody® has just begun an in-house quest to practice what it preaches. Over 80 percent of the company's employees have signed on for a 90-day health challenge to get in the best shape of their lives. The kitchen's been transformed, you've got to book ahead of time to use the gym, and the employees have replaced their soda and caffeine fixes with Meal Replacement Shake. Let's take a look at what promises to be one of the fittest—if not the fittest—corporate environments in the world.

"Carl [Daikeler, Beachbody's CEO] and I have always lamented that we can get millions of Americans to exercise, eat right, and change their lives," said Beachbody President Jon Congdon. "But we've never found a way to successfully get it done inside the company. We looked into lots of ways to do it, and this voluntary challenge seems to have struck the right balance. I can't tell you how excited I am, not just that most of the company has joined in, which is great, but even better is the energy and buzz it has created around the office."
Sure enough, on my recent trip to the office, I noticed things had certainly changed. On my visits to Los Angeles, I'm usually so busy that I barely find time to squeeze in a few sets of pull-ups between meetings. This time, however, working out was an important part of everyone's daily checklist. I rode my bike as much this week as I have all year. When I accepted Carl's lunch hour bike ride invite, I thought it was going to be a casual jaunt to the beach. It turned into a time trial to see how many miles we could tick off before his next meeting. Priorities had definitely shifted.
"The 90-Day Challenge appealed to me because I've been waiting for some motivation," said The People Department Director Abney Gil. "After having a baby, your entire life focus changes, and while you'd think you would be super-motivated to stay fit and healthy to take care of a new child, it's very easy to make excuses NOT to take care of yourself. You get run down quickly and stay there. I needed accountability and a starting point."
Jon describes how this challenge began.
"Really, what inspired the company challenge was something that I started with our Top Coaches in Mexico, at the end of March," said Congdon. "I was hanging out with [Coaches] Jason Scheff, Doug Couch, and Pete Peña and remarked that none of us was in quite the shape we wanted to be in at that moment. And I said, 'If you guys don't mind getting your butts kicked, let's do a 90-day challenge and see who's got the stuff!'

"It was basically a little bit of Tequila-induced trash-talking, but something beautiful was born at that moment. A few feet away were Jonathan Gelfand [Beachbody General Counsel] and Jim Saunders [VP of Coach Operations], who wanted in, and by the next morning, our group was over 15 strong. We kept up on our promises when we got home, and a challenge went into full swing. I was loving the energy of the challenge [and] the combination of competition (good-natured), and [the] camaraderie (very good-natured) was inspiring everyone to really go for it. Getting the company to do something similar seemed like a natural extension, perfect really."
Congdon then enlisted Bryan Carney, Manager of Employee Experience, to spearhead the effort. Carney set about the task of organizing and motivating the employees to join the challenge. Beachbody set up free hydrostatic body fat testing for both employees and their families, revamped the gym and the kitchen, and began serving ultra-healthy Friday breakfasts to teach people how they should be eating. Congdon even signed and personally delivered pledge badges to every employee who decided to participate in the challenge.
"Where else can you find a company where the president hand-delivers something to hundreds of employees?" said Carney. "The commitment is over-the-top."
As is the case with Beachbody's Push Play attitude, employees were encouraged to focus on starting the challenge, not the final outcome.
"My goal was to just get started," said Abney. "I wish I could say that my goal was to lose 40 pounds and get chiseled in 90 days, but I've been here before and I know that's not realistic. A year and a half ago, I had just reached a 3-year goal of losing 60 pounds and running a marathon. I know how much dedication and hard work it requires and how taking that first step is the hardest, and ultimately, the most important."
A few weeks into the challenge, Carney upped the ante with a ceremonial "dump the junk" day that took place in Beachbody's main kitchen. Carney dumped all of the processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, and other junk food items, including Coffee-mate®, and replaced them with natural alternatives like honey, agave nectar, and stevia. Daikeler then gave a short presentation on the health benefits of the change, closing with, "in 10 years, you'll realize the importance of what we're doing today."
"Most of the people that originally complained about the lack of artificial sweeteners have come back and said they were wrong," said Carney. "They really like the new healthy ones. In fact, several used the words 'love' in describing them."
Prior to the challenge, finding the time was the crux for most employees. The office is a bustling place, and most days, you'd find the gym empty and people working long past closing time. Priorities needed to shift, none more than for Abney, since she'd recently had a baby.
"I've had to force myself to make time for myself," she admits. "I haven't made huge, drastic changes. I've started watching what I eat and just walking for 20 minutes a day, but I've already lost 8 pounds! I know I'll have to ramp it up soon, and when I need to, I'll have been practicing a little each day to make that happen. When I first decided to commit to the challenge I thought, 'How the heck am I going to find 20 minutes in the day to go walking?' But I've already made it happen by just deciding to do it. Eventually, I'll be P90X'ing, Turbo Jamming, and Rockin' my body back in to shape!"
Carney describes the excitement in the Beachbody air:
"Literally, everyone is talking about it every single day," says Carney. "They talk about what they eat, what supplements to take, how their programs are coming along. There are no more office doldrums. People are talking about bike rides, walks, hikes, dresses they can fit into. I get questions about exercises and diet every day."
Tony Horton has held two workout sessions for the employees. Brett Hobel, creator of the new RevAbs™ program (look for it in the coming months!), came last week to work out with the employees too. The response was so enthusiastic that Carney moved the workout outside—the gym proved too small to accommodate all the employees who participated. But Beachbody is still a business, and the challenge will only be a success if the company continues to get its work done. So how is the challenge affecting the work front?
"The difference is crazy," says Carney. "Everyone is talking about their increased energy. One employee came to me telling me that [by] cutting out the soda and drinking more water, he does not have the afternoon 3 PM lull. People are saying that they're communicating better with peers. There is an increased feeling of camaraderie. People are managing their time better and zipping around the office. And we're only in week 4!"