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Value of Five Minutes? Priceless.

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Written by Allison Wolf

There’s a buzzing on the street, a palpable stress as downtown Vancouver colleagues and competitors move to pressing appointments and deadlines. Time is ticking and heartrates are high.  A typical business day.

But in a boardroom high above, pulses rise and drop for another reason.

Picture this — the clock strikes 10 and a small group of lawyers gathers for a quick exercise break, assuming the yoga pose known as the Plank. Holding this pose develops endurance and stamina, and tones the nervous system. It’s also great for strengthening the back.

There is quiet conversation and laughter as the group works to stay in plank position for a minute, moves into side planks, and finishes with wall sits. Then the time is up.  Everyone rises, stretches a little, and heads back to their offices until the next break at noon.  Lunchtime exercise?  A five-minute series of lunges in an athletic congo line around the boardroom.

Truth or Fiction?

Truth! These mini breaks really happen four times a day, every work day at the Vancouver office of MLT Aikins, the recently expanded giant western Canadian law firm. Their Vancouver office is housed high above the blaring horns in the top floors of Vancouver’s beautiful art deco Marine Building.

The instigator of these five minute exercise breaks is litigation partner David Wotherspoon.  I caught up with David over lunch this summer where I learned about his strategy to get him and his colleagues moving while developing a collegial firm culture.  Says Wotherspoon, “We’re in and out within five minutes – we get a brain break, an exercise hit, and it takes only a little time away from our desks.”

It’s working.

It’s long been proven that short bits of exercise several times a day benefit our fitness levels and mood.  How often have we all read about the importance of getting up from our desks and moving around throughout the day, or going outside for five minutes of natural light to refresh and renew — taking a break from the solitude of our screens and devices.

Wotherspoon has taken this notion a step further by making movement and connection a fun, planned, collective everyday occurrence in the workplace.  Being active is a great way to unwind stresses and strains from our busy schedules.  Increasing heartrates through shared laughter and camaraderie among colleagues can only lead to success for the firm and its team.

Cost? Free.  Value?  Priceless.

I think I’ll go outside for a walk now.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and a lawyer coach with over a decade of experience helping clients overcome challenges and achieve success however they define it. In practice this can be many things from helping a law firm partner get more “dad time” with his young family, to coaching a lawyer on the business development strategy, skills, and implementation to grow her legal practice. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at allison@shiftworks.ca or visit my website thelawyercoach.com.

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