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I always found working out difficult. Through high school, college and law school, I made working out a low priority — it was something to do with one or two friends when we felt a little stressed. As with most first-year associates in a large firm, I now work long hours, many more hours than I ever worked in law school, with increased pressure to excel. The combination of long work hours and stress from work and home forced me to develop a regime that allows me to take some time away from the office, away from civic and familial responsibilities, and enjoy an hour of personal time. It is hard for me to believe, but working out has become the linchpin of my day. I’ve made a lunchtime workout a priority in my life. Taking an hour per day to maintain my physical and mental health has become almost mandatory for me. I get irritable and inefficient when I miss more than two to three days at the gym. To make the lunchtime workout possible, I had to remove as many roadblocks from exercising as I could. Taking a gym bag every day to work or having to keep up with clothes and shoes would hinder me from going to the gym — it always did. I exercised regularly when I could go home and change into gym clothes. Here in Charlotte, N.C., I’ve discovered a solution, so that all I have to do when I work out is leave the office as if I am going to lunch. I found a gym that is one block from the office, so I don’t have to drive. Plus, the gym maintains a laundry facility for workout clothes; all you do is leave a pair of gym shoes in your locker, and your clothes and socks are washed overnight and left in your locker for your next workout. The laundry service adds about $30 per month to my gym dues (it is not optional), but it is worth every penny. I established several different exercise routines. I will spend one day lifting free weights, another day on machines. Once a week, I run or row for half an hour to get a solid cardiovascular workout. After any workout, I always take five to 10 minutes to sit in the hot tub or sauna just to have a few minutes of quiet time. I established one cardinal rule: I will not consciously think about work, check voicemail or call my secretary while at the gym. My secretary has my cellular phone number and the phone number at the gym in case of an emergency. To date, she has never called. I receive a tremendous boost after I work out; my head is clearer, I attack projects with more vigor and I am more efficient in my work. When I work out regularly, I find that my mental state is much more even, things don’t irritate me as much, and my mood is generally positive. I recommend that all attorneys find a small amount of time in their day for themselves. Studies show that exercise is one key to a long and healthy life; if you can establish a routine that gives you personal time while you exercise, your body and mind will be better for it. Wayne Fitzgerald is an associate in the Capital Markets Department of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Charlotte, N.C.

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