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Athletic Director Column: Fitness as Team Building, Part I

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 10:48 -- admin25

by Kenneth G. Raggio

Most lawyers spend at least as much time at the office or dealing with their “day job” activities as with any other activity in their daily lives. It make sense to have that block of one’s time as enjoyable as possible. And many have used fitness to strengthen the bonds between individuals sharing that part of life, which can be called your “legal team.”

The book Younger Next Year contains author Chris Crowley’s seven rules; the first rules are about exercise, etc. Rule six is: Care. Rule seven is: Connect and Commit.

Chapter 17 of the book stands for the proposition that if we do not care, we are making a huge mistake that puts us back on the slope of continual life decline that vigorous physical exercise routine was meant to forestall. “Caring means caring about other people and being involved with them. . . .  Acting like the pack animals we are, right to the end,” the book says, continuing the explanation in earlier chapters that biologically we are not much different from other animals. And that we need to act like it.

We can combine our “day job” with caring and fitness. This column and the upcoming June column feature several examples of caring and committing.

For years, Strasburger & Price, LLP (photo 1) has put together a team of firm members who travel to Oregon each summer to run the Hood to Coast Relay. Strasburger’s “Lawyers on the Lam” relay team has 12 runners doing multiple legs in the 200 mile relay, which is the largest and longest relay race in the world. Since 2010, more than 40 Strasburger attorneys, their friends and family—as well as a group of clients who have become friends—have taken to the road for fun, fitness, and fundraising. All of the runners maintain a rigorous training regimen to prepare for the race. The team’s fitness goals are just one aspect of Strasburger’s wellness initiatives, which range from a formal wellness program to subsidizing healthy snacks in the office.

(photo 1)

Another example that caring and committing demonstrates a lifelong benefit of participating is an athletic team activity. Photo 2, which appeared in the Texas Bar Journal some 35 years ago, shows the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) state champion football team, which just happens to be from Dallas. This particular team was not from the same firm. But the guys in the picture will tell you that the commitment of competing for the team was a commitment to the others and that caring has formed lifetime friendships. Virtually everyone in the picture is still practicing in Dallas—even those with Medicare cards—and all are still reasonably, if not more, fit.

(photo 2)

The SBOT still sponsors Basketball and Softball leagues; perhaps there will be some new ones featured in Part II.

Another example of fitness as team building is the arcane sport (?) of stair racing. (Or is it cruel and unusual punishment?) A couple of times each year, there are races organized to benefit the various charitable organizations.  In these races, the participants walk (or double step) up the stairs in buildings such as the Bank of America Tower—70 stories and 1254 steps. It is hard. Some call it a vertical marathon; while such a description may underappreciate the commitment and fortitude necessary to undertake a marathon, it recognizes that pulling your body weight up 900 feet in 11 minutes—or 25 minutes—is a HUGE accomplishment. Stair races really tell you how good your quads, lungs, and heart are. (Younger Next Year has a box in Chapter 10—“Default to Quads”—reminding us that fit quadriceps—the largest muscle in the body—is the key to staying out of strollers and wheelchairs). One needs to train to do a stair climb. And the firms of Andrews Kurth (photo 3) and Goranson Bain (photo 4) formed teams to do just that.

Led by Aimee Pingenot Key, Goranson Bain runners—and other firm members who do not compete in the race—regularly walk up the 14 flights of stairs in their building at Campbell Center. The team—and other members of the firm—even eat healthy meals together regularly, and, like Strasburger, the firm emphasizes healthy snacks. A good job of combining fitness with esprit de corps.

(photo 3)   (photo 4)

The DBA is your TEAM—or at least one of your teams. To show that we are all on the same team when it comes to fitness, the DBA has arranged for members who wish to try out one of the leading gyms in the area—the LA Fitness Signature Club at Cityplace—to have a two-week complimentary membership. It is a really good gym. So is the downtown YMCA, and most of the suburban Y’s, which will also offer DBA members a one-week free trial. Due to the issues of non-DBA members getting wind of the offer, we have agreed to screen and aggregate them. If you are interested in finding out more about the free trial memberships, email fitness@dallasbar.org and we will fill you in on the details.

Look for more information and additional legal team spotlights in the June issue, Fitness as Team Building, Part II.

Kenneth G. Raggio is a partner at Raggio & Raggio, P.L.L.C. and can be reached at kenneth@raggiolaw.com.

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