Finding time for fitness

Finding Time for Fitness

  • January 26, 2016
  • Micheal Okumura and Kimberly Whaley

Looking to integrate healthy exercise and eating habits into your busy schedule? Personal trainer Michael Okumura and health-conscious lawyer Kimberly Whaley team up to provide an easy workout routine and practical time management tips.

Time management is a challenge lawyers deal with both in and outside of the office. Many firms expect their lawyers to bill thousands of hours a year, leaving little time for a life beyond work and sleep. With a healthy amount of sleep taking up 7-8 hours of the day, work consuming 10-12 hours and family and personal obligations in between, most have only a small pocket of time for additional recreational activities.

Not having enough time to exercise is a global complaint many lawyers will voice, however the most successful lawyers I know have learned to prioritize their health with regular exercise keeping them mentally sharp and physically confident for contentious situations.

Staying active and healthy is going to take some planning, logistical maneuvering and commitment

According to a recent Huffington Post article, ‘sitting is the new smoking’. Most people are forced to sit for a living, an unfortunate occupational hazard. Sitting glued to a desk for a large portion of the day, with your body curled over a desk in a c-curve, causes aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. Feeling lethargic after several hours of inactivity, you’ll likely to be less than enthusiastic to jump into a high energy aerobics class with an overly energetic person yelling at an intolerable decibel.

The good news is that there are many options to offset the side effects of the desk job: the three I most often recommend are: working on your poor posture, moving more throughout the day and staying hydrated and nourished.

Start with a good overhaul of your desk ergonomics;  investing in a good chair encourages better spinal alignment and can do wonders for the neck, shoulders, and lower back. Try setting your computer terminal at eye height to offset forward head posture; consider a seated to upright desk so you can stand for part of the day or opt for sitting on a stability ball, both of which improve muscle activation of the trunk, improving posture and reducing lower back pain.

Getting enough physical activity is a challenge I hear many lawyers complain about. Hiring a fitness professional to create mini programs that can be done with or without equipment is effective for those who are unable to make it to the gym but want to maintain some activity during large, time-consuming cases. Scroll down to learn the 60-Minute Reset and Anti-Home Office mini programs.

Keeping a large bottle of water on your desk will keep you hydrated (provided you make the effort to drink it). For snacks, I recommend nuts and seeds; protein bars have gotten a bad rap because of the high sugar and questionable ingredients, however there are some clean ones such as Larabars, and Kind. When choosing a protein bar look for low sugar, some protein, and ingredients that actually sound like food.  

Another time saving strategy is to use a meal planning and delivery system, ensuring you are getting good quality food and not having to forage for food when you are hungry, which prevents you from making bad decisions. has been a popular choice with many of my clients working downtown, delivers paleo meals to locations across the GTA, and Supperworks provides ready-prepped meals in various regions across the province.

The 60-Minute Reset

The 60-minute Reset is a strategy I created for my desk jockeys to offset the constant c-curve they inflict upon their spines. I recommend setting an alarm or posting a note on the computer terminal to remind you to get up every 60 minutes and do two simple stretches to neutralize that c-curve. The crucifix and hip flexor stretches are two easy and effective stretches that target the upper and lower body:

Crucifix Stretch
Hold for 60 seconds, increase intensity by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Lunge Stretch
Hold for 30-45 seconds, squeeze the glute of the back leg.


Anti-Office Home Program

The anti-office home program has been a popular spine saver for many of my desk ridden clients over the years, with just a 3 x 6 soft exercise mat (yoga mat will do fine) and your body as the equipment. Performing these five exercises in a circuit three times takes less than 15 minutes, doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of your own home and you can do them first thing in the morning, ensuring you’ve done something healthy for yourself each day.

Supine hip extension - hold for 45 seconds


Side plank - hold for 45 seconds


Front plank - hold for 45 seconds


Horse stance horizontal - hold 5 seconds for each arm and leg, 8 reps


Prone istometric cobra - hold for 45 seconds



Continue through all five exercises then take a 30 second rest. Repeat 3-5 times for a full workout.


  • Learn to breathe properly: reduce stress and improve your overall health by down regulating your nervous system into a relaxed state. It can be used as a meditation tool at home or even at the office.

  • Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water. This will help keep the transmission of neurons sending signals at optimum speed,  keeping you sharp.

  • Choose foods that are dense in nutrients, like organic animal proteins and vegetables. Avoid sugars and insulin-spiking carbohydrates that inhibit brain function.

  • Move your body after periods of inactivity. A recent study showed that students who exercised for 15 minutes before SAT testing improved their scores on the test. Exercise stimulates brain function and has also been proven to improve neuron pathways.

  • Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest complaints I get from clients. Setting a proper sleep environment is critical to good sleep performance and taking a good magnesium supplement 30 minutes before bed will help down-regulate your nervous system into a relaxed state.

  • Learn to manage stress, which is a tall order when working in law. As a cardiologist client of mine said best, it’s only a stressful situation when it’s a life and death situation. An interesting perspective to think about, from a person who has firsthand experience with life and death.

A Lawyer's Six Quick Tips:


You don’t find time, you make time. Be realistic in your expectations; set aside space in your calendar as personal time intended to be largely unassailable. Manage it.


Choose your exercise and your venue based on convenience. In other words, do you go to a nearby gym with shower facilities or laundry service? Do you bike or run to work, and are there shower facilities? Do you keep work or fitness attire at the office? Does it make more sense to run or bike home from work? Consider whether your firm has an appropriate space to work out - can it be a group activity? Or perhaps it’s better to work out at home with a personal trainer or on your own.


Consider access to healthy nutrition and supplements. Manage your food so as to manage your fitness. You cannot work out if you go all day without food , particularly the right food!


Always keep fitness/work attire at the office. Make it easy, leaving no room for excuses. Likewise, always keep toiletries - all those things you need for the body and hair with your keep-fit clothes. 

Fitness for you and the job you do

Travel and transporting court documents, boxes, briefs, court bags , etc. requires physical  fitness.

Our brains – our most valuable professional asset – require fitness and health through nutrition and exercise. After all, our brains are responsible for intelligence, abstract thought, processing, and memory.

Other considerations

Consider stand-up desks. At Whaley Estate Litigation, all lawyers use stand-up desks for fitness and posture health.

  • Organize firm ‘fit’ events, like taking part as a group in community races, as an example. It’s fun, it’s healthy and the added benefit is the gained group or team spirit arising from it.
  • Some downtown lawyers, such as Dentons, use group training sessions at their office or another venue. Working out with a buddy increases motivation.
  • Develop a culture of fitness and health within your workplace - it can be infectious.
  • Pay attention to the usual bad suspects – too much caffeine, alcohol, fast food and empty calories derived from unhealthy intake.

Remember: An unbillable hour for your health is your practice’s most valuable hour!

Micheal OkumuraKimberly WhaleyAbout the Authors

Micheal Okumura, Health Coach, 

Kimberly A. Whaley, Lawyer,  

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