The Law School Magazine  ·  Winter 2009 : Features

Moritz Grads Find Time for Fitness Priorities Amidst Busy Schedules

By - Winter 2009
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It’s no surprise that each of our lives is crowded with countless priorities battling for equal time in what seem like longer days than ever. Work inevitably extends beyond a time you expected, time with families can be scarce, and sleep is a rare commodity.

But – as you know – keeping a healthy lifestyle is more than recommended these days. It should be a necessity that we incorporate into our daily lives just like we do for our work and family. Doubting that you have enough time? Here are five Moritz alumni who are living proof that fitness and lifestyle goals are attainable even while trying to manage a law firm, raise a family, or run a company.

Suggestions ranged from working out early in the day, incorporating exercise into a mandatory commute, and training for specific events. However, these alumni all resoundingly agreed on three points:

Rich Helmreich ’89 Setting Goals and Following Through

Settling for mediocre has never been enough for Rich Helmreich ’89 both as one of the leading employee benefits lawyers in the country and as an athlete. He is currently an attorney at Porter Wright and also serves on the national Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Advisory Council after being appointed by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. The council helps craft policies on government regulation.  Members serve three-year terms. In addition to his family’s activities, Rich’s busy career typically keeps him in the office around 60 hours a week, but that doesn’t stop him from working out most mornings at 5 a.m.

“Although it means less sleep, it’s worth it,” said Rich, 44. Whether it’s running, working out at the gym or training for a goal that he has set for himself, he sees multiple benefits of keeping an active healthy lifestyle. “Exercise gives you time to think and analyze situations with a clarity that you don’t normally have,” he added. “I bought an iPod, but I leave it at home. I would rather take time to think through the issue of the day.”

Climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington twice has been his most notable athletic accomplishment. Training for the trip required him to spend two hours in the gym a day and spend hours climbing up and down stairs with a 50-pound backpack. “The years that I climbed Rainier also happened to be the busiest for my firm. I was at my best though because training kept me so disciplined,” he said. Rich’s other interests include biking, the highlight of which was his 105-mile ride through the Tour of  the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), and playing in a men’s soccer league.

Stress relief is a huge benefit as well, and he finds it hard to believe that people in stressful situations can handle it without some way to release. He realizes that everyone has an outlet for stress – whether healthy or unhealthy – and exercise is his healthy way of relieving stress everyday.

For now, Rich plans to keep challenging himself physically and professionally.  He plans to run at least one marathon or half marathon a year and has also recently taken up yoga.  At work, he hopes to help to continue growing the firm and his department.  His discipline with exercise will undoubtedly help him to reach that goal.

Doug Morgan ’82: It’s All About Lifestyle

Doug Morgan ’82 doesn’t believe in exercise. “Exercise is optional,” he said, “and that is why it doesn’t work.” Instead, Doug completes a 20-mile round trip on his bike everyday to get to work. “You have to put physical activity between you and something you want, or somewhere you have to go,” he added.

Doug hasn’t owned a car in seven years. All of this started several years ago when his then teenage daughter totaled his car in a serious accident. While driving to a car dealership to shop for a replacement, he and his son got stuck in a traffic jam. The frustration of the car accident combined with the stalled traffic was enough to make him switch modes of transportation. Once he started biking to work most days, his perspective changed on both transportation and exercise.

“I could see, hear, and smell things that I hadn’t since I was a kid,” said the 52 year old. He also thought that from his new point of view drivers looked so isolated in their cars. “Almost all of the cars contained only one person. It was amazing to me that it takes 3,000 pounds of metal and glass to transport one person.”

The physical benefits of riding to work came rather quickly. He was soon able to sleep more soundly, he lost weight, and aches and pains originating from old injuries as a college baseball player went away. He now sees cars as a luxury that should be reserved for long trips or harsh weather. “Most trips that people drive are only a few miles … a distance that can easily be biked,” he said.  Doug very rarely uses a car, and he rides the COTA bus  to get to work for a few weeks in the winter when the roads are too slick.

His wardrobe has changed along with his habits. Doug is now easily recognized as the only lawyer in the office who wears spandex upon arrival to work and then spends the rest of the day in dress pants and a Nike Dri-FIT athletic shirt.

Although Doug incorporates a small amount of light strength training at home three times a week, he believes the fitness industry will not solve America’s health-related problems.  “Every day I work with some of the most affluent people in Columbus who have plenty of money to spare to buy gym memberships and personal trainers, yet they still don’t address their fitness. If their exercise was how they got around town, they would have to do it,” he said. Making exercise mandatory in this way is good for someone as busy as Doug. “There is no consistent schedule that I can make to get to a gym. So if I know that I’ll get my exercise getting from place to place, I don’t have to worry about it.”

He also believes that getting out of the car is good for the community. Being outside allows you to interact with others and get to know people. “It creates a more sustainable, more social environment. If more people rode their bikes, they wouldn’t be so disconnected from each other,” he said. Clearly, changing something as fundamental as his form of transportation has affected Doug’s life on many levels, and it is a unique example of how fitness can become an important part of even the busiest lawyer’s life.

Mike Finn ’67 Exploring the World One Mountain at a Time

When he’s not running his business, Mike Finn ’67 is most likely on a mountain climbing adventure or planning his next one. From California to Nepal, Mike, 64, has climbed mountains, trekked through countries around the world, and faced danger in the process.  He has always tried to stay in shape and was primarily a runner for most of his life, usually logging a few miles before heading to work each day. “It was more than just a workout. It was meditative … a way to clear my mind,” he said.

For the first decade and a half of his career he focused on business, leaving little time for travel and adventure.  He currently heads Central Power Systems, a wholesale distributor of outdoor power equipment and service parts. It was  after a mountain climbing trip out west with his son, Matthew, in 1986, that he decided to make such excursions a higher priority in his life. Since then, Mike has found a new mountain to climb including destinations as far as France, Russia, Argentina, and Bhutan. One of his most memorable trips was a trek with his wife, Janet, through the Nepalese mountains to visit the lost city of Lo Mantang.

Training and preparation for climbing and trekking has put him in the best shape of his life. Normally, he starts his day with an early morning workout five or six days a week.  Exercises geared toward preparation for a climb are added into his routine when necessary.

Staying in shape and travelling has brought numerous benefits. Mike says that it’s a “gift you give yourself,” and that it improves his life physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Having a destination to work toward is what motivates him to make time for fitness despite his busy schedule.  His next endeavor is walking coast to coast across England with Janet, and then it’s time to tackle the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain.

Danyelle Wright ’99: Life Changing Weight Loss

Danyelle Wright ’99 was never a fitness fanatic. That was, until she turned 31. Despite being professionally successful, Danyelle said that she didn’t decide to address her weight problem until she was three years out of law school. “I didn’t want to take any shortcuts … I wanted to do it the right way with diet and exercise,” Danyelle said. She joined Weight Watchers, started a fitness regimen, and in 18 months she had lost 146 pounds.

“In the beginning, I worked out three times per day: before work, during lunch, and before I went home. I had a goal and I was willing to work hard towards it.  Now, six years later, I work out twice a day, five days a week,” said the 37 year old. She normally starts her day with a kickboxing class that she does with her sister, and finishes the day with some light strength training at home. “I consider it a big accomplishment that I kept the weight off. A lot of the time, people who lose weight slowly gain it back.”

Danyelle is now a partner at Sebaly, Shillito, and Dyer in Dayton, Ohio.  And despite having more responsibility than ever, she is able to keep her health one of her top priorities. She keeps herself on track by writing down her goals and checking in with friends. “My best friend in New York keeps me accountable. We check in with each other regularly for motivation. She makes sure I’m drinking enough water,” said Danyelle. Originally, she hired a personal trainer to show her the ropes, but now she creates her own routines. “I try to keep it interesting.  I’m always looking through Shape and Women’s Health for new ideas.”

“You have to want it,” she says. “You can take someone to the well, but you can’t make them drink. I know that I’m doing something that will immediately impact my outlook on the day. I feel strong, have more energy, and don’t need caffeine to wake me up.”

Her advice to others is that it’s never too late to take control of your health. “You may have to start slow. I had to work up to being able to finish an entire step aerobics class.  Take baby steps and set realistic goals,” she said.  In addition to staying healthy, she wants to continue doing good work, become a leader at her firm, and carve out quality time with family and close friends.

Rebecca Price ’01: Staying Healthy for Her Family

Being a new mother and an active litigator at the same time seems hard enough, and staying in shape on top of it sounds nearly impossible. However, Rebecca Roderer Price ’01 finds time to be a successful attorney at Kegler Brown, raise Audrey, her daughter who is 2 years old, and stay active and healthy. “I try to make sure I’m doing something active five or six days a week,” she said.

Even though she is currently working just 30 hours a week, the 32-year-old attorney still has a lot on her plate.  Despite her busy schedule, she managed to train for and run the Columbus Half-Marathon in 2007. Rebecca trained for about five months, and although she struggled with an injury she managed to finish the race. “Knowing that I could have run even faster motivates me to try again,” she added.

“After Audrey was born, I needed an activity that I could do anytime, any place,” said Rebecca.  “So running seemed like a good fit. I could push her in the stroller at the same time.” Before her pregnancy, Rebecca enjoyed step aerobics classes, weight training, and using the elliptical machines at the gym, and during her pregnancy she practiced prenatal yoga.

Rebecca says that the most important thing before, during, and after her pregnancy is that she works out early in the morning. “As a lawyer, it’s important to work out early because you never know what your day will bring,” she said.  “Working with a client can stretch into the evening unexpectedly and can ruin your plans to go to the gym. If it’s done first thing then you don’t have to worry about it, and you have more energy for the day ahead.”

Like just about anything, starting to exercise is the hardest part she says. “Once you commit to it and get in a routine, it becomes much easier,” Rebecca said. However, she said that she is highly motivated by her daughter. “I want her to grow up seeing her parents active,” she said. “We try to set a good example for her and exercising together is great bonding time as a family.” Rebecca often takes Audrey on a bike ride to go watch her husband play basketball.

Currently, Rebecca wants to stay in shape and enjoy her time with her daughter before she returns to work full time at the firm. Stress relief, extra energy, and setting a positive example for her daughter is more than enough incentive to keep her on the right track.


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