Solo Newsletter

Summer 2003

From the Editor-in-Chief: Mind You Don't Forget the Body

By Robin Page West

The demands of solo and small firm law practice never stop - practicing law, developing clients, and devising technology solutions. There's always one more deadline to meet, one more person to call, one more bill to pay. Intent on fulfilling our commitments to others, it's easy to overlook commitments we should make to ourselves. Take exercise, for example.

"We know how splendid we feel after a long walk. We see how fit and graceful are our animals as they luxuriate in their stretches. We know of the studies that attest to the facts that exercise rejuvenates aging bodies, calms stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and lessens the risks of many diseases," writes Colleen Craig, a certified Pilates trainer who did not exercise from age 20 to 40 while devoting herself to the pursuit of a writing career.

In her book, Pilates on the Ball, (Healing Arts Press, 2001), Craig describes the feelings she experienced upon returning to exercise after her self-imposed moratorium. "The first emotion was denial - I don't need this; I have managed for years without structured exercise. Then there was deep releasing of regret, and grief I could have lived so long without something that felt so soothing. . . . It was time to shift priorities, and to make room for those changes."

If a little voice keeps telling you it's time to get serious about a regular exercise program, check with your doctor and then start looking for something that resonates with you. Dancing, biking, walking, using an exercise ball, yoga, skating - the list is endless. Says Craig, "The success of any exercise approach relies on the responsibility of the participant, the doer, and how he or she connects to that method mentally, emotionally, and physically."

Pilates, which has taken America by storm in recent years, is a program of mental and physical conditioning developed by German-born Joseph Pilates during the First World War while he was interned in English camps. In the 1920s he brought his method to New York where ballet dancers embraced it. The method focuses on concentration, control, centering, breathing, postural alignment, flow, precision, stamina, and relaxation. The benefits include building strength from within to create elasticity and flexibility, a stronger back and abdominals, and improved posture.

Pilates is a good choice for busy lawyers who have lots of things on their minds that they would like to forget about, if only temporarily. Because it does not include endless, boring repetitions, but instead is mentally challenging and requires great focus and concentration, it's a sure-fire way to clear one's head while refreshing the body. And results are almost immediate - you will leave your first session feeling taller and stronger.

Observes Craig, "Many of my students come to my classes seeking physical conditioning, but what they also receive is mental conditioning - a way to get in touch with their inner strength and inner calm and to balance the chaos of their lives with sanity." Not even a lawyer can argue with that!

Robin Page West, editor-in-chief of SOLO, is a shareholder in Cohan & West, P.C., in Baltimore, Maryland. Contact her at


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