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Zachary OverlineSo we just got back from CSOFT’s annual Worldwide Operations Summit. A little bit of background for those who aren’t familiar with it: the Worldwide Ops is a yearly event in which CSOFT invites its extended team members from around the world—including translators, project managers, localization engineers, clients, and localization industry experts, etc.—to our China office for a week of seminars, training, presentations and team-building.

It’s a pretty cool event, one that we had originally hoped to blog about live. But when you’ve got an entire office full of coworkers and friends that you only get to see once a year, and when you’re in Shanghai at the World Expo, and when there’s booze, and when there’s both Germans and Brits in the same room as a television playing England VS Germany at the World Cup… well, you tend to forget about your computers (and work responsibilities) and… I hope my boss isn’t reading this.

So anyway, we’re back now. Our German team is happy that they won (though they didn’t so much as crack a smile), our British members are comforting themselves with tea and crumpets (or so I hear), and now it’s time to blog.

What I want to talk about today is health and wealth in the office—that is, corporate wellness at CSOFT. Our CEO, Miss Shunee Yee, had been tormenting us for weeks with terrifying hints about how she had hired a personal trainer to attend our Summit, and how he was going to whip the entire team into shape.

She kept on using the word Rubenize (because the trainer’s name is Ruben) to threaten us. As in, “You just wait and see, guys. I’m gonna’ Rubenize you good.”

Or, “If you don’t meet this Friday’s deadline, you are gonna’ get Rubenized so hard it’s not even funny.”

I swear that’s what she said.

And if nothing’s more frightening than turning proper nouns into verbs, forced exercise is definitely a runner-up. In fact, weeks before the Summit, several of my coworkers and I were already contemplating the various ways in which we could escape. Faked illnesses, sudden disappearances, even physical injury—no price was too high to abscond from the harrowing notion of physical activity.

On that fateful day…

What with all the preparatory work, we completely forgot about our impending doom, and on day one of the Summit, our eyes narrowed in fear and a cat hissed from afar as the announcement came: “Everyone, come to the main floor for your first Ruben session.” It was already too late.

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So we steeled ourselves: bravely put down our Diet Cokes, stuffed our pockets with Snickers bars, lobbed out of our chairs, and hobbled over to meet our maker. And this is what we saw:

Ruben Payan - Buster of Skulls

Now, my first impression of Ruben was, “Crap, that man’s HUGE.” And immediately after that, “Double-crap! That man’s got a ponytail. And everyone knows that men with ponytails mean business.” (Note: Ruben’s ponytail is not shown in the above image. But I swear it’s there.)

A little background information on Ruben:

He was born in Phoenix Arizona, where he received a certificate as Fitness and Nutrition Coach after having served in the United States Marine Corps for four years. He is a master in the Chinese art of Qigong, and currently provides quality fitness education through Human in Motion in Beijing. And he has a ponytail.

Accompanying Ruben at CSOFT’s Summit was Vince Soberano, a native of California who spent 16 years in the Software Industry before—get this—becoming the World Lightweight Muay Thai Champion. He is the founder of the Black Tiger Academy in Beijing, China, and in spite of not having a ponytail, Vince looks like he could squeeze water from a rock in the desert.

Vince Soberano - Buster of Rocks

Now I don’t want to give you the wrong impression here. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t have a cyanide pill hidden in my [censored], just in case. But for all my complaining I’m still here to write about this stuff, so the exercise session wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was kind of nice, and that’s what this blog entry is really about.

(Can I get a CMS over here? This entry is already almost 700 words long.)

So yeah, without further ado:

Exercise can be fun!

Now, now… hear me out. I never, ever thought I’d say that out loud, but it was a pretty decent session. We started out doing what Vince called “dynamic stretching,” which is a combination of slow exercise, simple movements, and stretching—a way to get your heart beat up and smooth out all the knots in your office-abused muscles.

They even played some nice music while we stretched, erm, dynamically. As Vince taught us to slow-motion punch, kick, knee and elbow potential scalawags, we enjoyed the musical stylings of Christina Perri. She belted on about “runnin’ ‘round leaving scars” from the hit single, Jar of Hearts, and we learned how to kick butt while working out groups of muscles that most of us didn’t even know we had.

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Marisa - Kicker of Faces

From there, Ruben set up a little obstacle course, and we competed in teams, which was a really good way to get everybody moving. We stretched these weird rubber band things, ran in circles, hopped over the rungs of a ladder, and passed around medicine balls, all in the name of good, ol’-fashioned not being fat.

Stretching at CSOFT -- a lot more difficult than it looks.

To top things off, Ruben led us in a short round of Yoga-ish poses to bring down our heart rates and center ourselves.

These are yoga stretches. Not to be confused with auditions for Swan Lake.

The best part is that both Ruben and Vince are nice guys. Seriously. Based on appearances alone, I would have thought that they were your stereotypical drill sergeant-esque trainers who want to pump you up, à la Hans and Franz from SNL. But they weren’t that way at all. They pushed us to go as far as our own bodies could take us, and that’s it. And it was enough to be a pretty tiring two-hour workout session, while still leaving us feeling superbly refreshed afterwards.

Friends and Localizers, take care of yourselves.

Really. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. Especially in such a mentally-taxing industry like localization. Our brains are heavy with multilingual translation, project management, tight deadlines, terminology management, e-mails and phone calls and budgets and word counts and… you gotta’ get up and move sometimes, get your blood flowing to parts other than your brain, or you really aren’t going to be performing at your best.

Work isn’t just about working. If that makes any sense at all. With all the time we spend in the office, we really have to take care of ourselves, and we have to grow with our peers and enjoy a bit of non-work activity outside of the office. Even if it’s exercise.

That being said….

Personally, I question the advisability of teaching our executive management how to bust human skulls with better precision. Luckily, however, learning how to duck was also a part of getting Rubenized.