Valentina Shaknes, Krauss Shaknes Tallentire & Messeri, New York
Valentina Shaknes is a co-founding partner at the firm and focuses her practice on complex matrimonial matters, specializing in valuations and divisions of closely held businesses and complicated custody proceedings.
What does regular exercise do for you? In addition to feeling physically stronger, exercise has had a tremendous impact on my mental health. I am a litigator, which is often quite stressful and I used to suffer from severe anxiety, frequently waking up at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep. I have not felt that once since I started working out regularly. In addition, regular workouts, especially running and boxing, increased my self-confidence and made me much tougher and more resilient mentally. If I can run six miles, I know that I can get through whatever else I may need to that day. So I prioritize working out every day over staying in bed, having breakfast and pretty much everything else! If I have an early meeting or court appearance (especially back in the day when those things were in person!), for me, it meant only that my workout would have to happen earlier in the morning.
How often during the week do you work out? I usually work out six days a week.
At what time during the day or evening do you work out? I prefer to work out first thing in the morning, as I find that’s the best time for me to make sure the workout actually happens, before work commitments and other obligations get in the way.
What’s your go-to routine? I do cardio—running, elliptical trainer or rower—three times a week. In addition, I do weight training (either on my own or with the SWEAT app) two or three times a week. Before COVID, I boxed with a trainer twice a week, but I haven’t been able to do that during the pandemic. On Saturdays, I do yoga. Yoga is great for flexibility, mobility and mental health. I usually take Sundays off as a recovery day, but sometimes I work out on Sundays too.
How long does it take? My workouts take between 45 minutes to an hour.
Why do you like this routine? I like my workout routine because, between cardio and strength training, it covers everything I need to stay strong and fit and keep up my level of endurance. Yoga has added stretching and meditation, which are both important for recovery.
“Working out first thing in the morning gives structure and predictability to my day and makes me feel like I have already accomplished something by the time I get to my desk to start my workday.”
How long have you been exercising regularly? I have been exercising regularly, four-five times per week, since 2019, from the time I was about to turn 40. Internalizing that I won’t always be young made me want to take care of myself and to be strong physically for myself, my family and my job. My mom has never exercised and has several health issues now as a result. As she gets older her health has only worsened, so I wanted to learn from that and be the opposite.
In what ways have you changed your routine during the COVID-19 crisis? My workout routine changed primarily in two ways. First, before COVID, I did boxing with a trainer at a boxing gym twice a week, which I loved. Sadly, I haven’t been able to do this during the pandemic. Second, I added yoga to my exercise routine, as I realized that I needed it for my mental health. When your entire life—work, gym, kids’ school—takes place at home, it’s important to get as much mental space as possible.
How do you convince yourself to work out when you don’t want to? I tell myself that working out is not negotiable. The good thing about working out pretty much every day is that your mind can’t play tricks on you that “you don’t need to work out today, you can do it tomorrow” because you know you have to work out every day. Also, I remind myself that I always feel much better after I work out. Putting on a good song that makes me want to move always gets me going!