San Francisco fitness trainer Jonathan Jordan (Courtesy photo)
Constant sitting is plaguing the U.S. workforce, and lawyers, with their abnormally long office hours, are among the professionals affected the worst. All sorts of awful things happen to the human body due to prolonged sitting, which can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Personal trainer Jonathan Jordan, at Equinox in San Francisco, enjoys a client base that’s about 25 percent lawyers, he said. Clients include lawyers at Nixon Peabody; Keker Van Nest & Peters; and Morrison & Foerster.
They come to his gym, which is in San Francisco’s Financial District and nestled among several Big Law offices, with loose glutes, collapsed cores and hunched shoulders from all the sitting. But they share other traits in common, too, including a fierce sense of competitiveness and strong determination. They’re also able to pay a pretty penny to have someone like Jordan push them to the limit.
We spoke with Jordan, 37, about the physical consequences of a lawyer’s sedentary job and how to tighten up. Questions and answers were edited for clarity and length.
What’s so bad about sitting, anyway? It seems pretty comfortable.
You’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking, right? By sitting all the time, we put our bodies in unnatural compensation patterns. All of our muscles are covered and wrapped in a connective tissue called fascia. Chronic sitting causes dysfunction in our fascia that leads to stiffness, pain, poor posture and joint problems. Our hip flexors get tight; our glutes are passively weakened; we’ll have a weak and inactive core.
That sounds bad. What do you recommend to help?
Mobility work. Stretching. Get yourself a foam roller, and start giving yourself a deep-tissue massage. Foam roll your back, shoulders and hips to help relieve tension in your fascia and keep it from pulling your joints out of alignment. Many of my clients keep foam rollers in their offices and carry-on bags.
Stretching? A foam roller? That’s not going to burn calories. Don’t people need to sweat?
That’s the warm up.
Oh. So, what’s different about lawyers compared with other clients?
It’s the number of hours. It’s the stress. It’s the same challenges as other professions, but it’s turned up a notch. It’s a really tough industry. They’re also Type A and hardworking, and they want the best.
What are the biggest mistakes lawyers make with their own fitness routines?
They’re going to the gym, but they’re not doing the mobility work. They’re running, doing biceps curls, bench presses, but they’re not doing what they need to reverse the effects from sitting.
What differences in fitness levels do you see in older vs. younger lawyers?
I am more afraid for my younger clients. My lawyers in their 40s and 50s structurally are in better shape than my younger clients, because the older clients did not grow up with iPhones, iPads and laptops. The upper bodies of my older clients are markedly less damaged. All of my 30-year-olds and 20-year-olds have jacked-up shoulders.
There’s a lot of hype about high-intensity interval training. Is cardio dead?
Cardio is definitely not over. Interval training is popular because most people want to burn fat. I want my clients to do some form of interval training, but I also encourage aerobic exercise, like yoga or jogging, hiking or swimming.
Who’s more likely to stick with a routine? Those who work out in the morning or those who do it after work?
Lawyers who work out in the morning are less likely to cancel appointments. They also like the feeling of having already done something great for themselves before work. My millennials can’t get up in the morning. They’ll sneak out in the afternoon and then go back to office for the evening.
How much do you charge?
It’s about $125 per hour. It varies depending on how many sessions you sign up for, that kind of thing, but that’s about how much it runs.
What about the trend for shorter, more intense workouts? A seven-minute workout seems like something lawyers could squeeze into their schedules.
There’s no “one size fits all.” A seven-minute workout or a nine-minute workout is better than not working out at all. It depends on your goal, but I’m not sure you’ll get where you want to be in seven minutes.
What are your typical lawyer-clients like?
The majority of my clients come to me because they want to see changes in how they look and feel. They hit a big birthday like 30 or 40 and all of a sudden notice that along with the late nights and takeout dinners the pounds have packed on, they can’t move how they used to and generally feel stressed and anxious all the time. While they love their jobs, and most say they do, their practices are slowly killing them. Those who learn to incorporate a basic fitness program into their lives not only look, feel and move healthier, they also tell me they become better lawyers from it.
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