New ISBA committee promotes healthy living for lawyers

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Attorney Michael Gabovitch said he generally works from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, plus a few hours on the weekend. The busy father of four doesn’t have much free time, but he’s found a way to make time for fitness.

Gabovitch used to exercise in the evenings. But because his office at Katz & Korin in downtown Indianapolis is just a few blocks from the fitness center in the OneAmerica Tower, he found that he could make better use of his time exercising during the day.

gabovitch-michael-mug.jpg Gabovitch

“Whenever I find I have an ability to sneak out for a little while, I head over there,” he said.

Gabovitch is among a handful of attorneys who use the equipment in the downtown gym. And incoming Indiana State Bar Association president C. Erik Chickedantz would like to see more lawyers finding time to get away from their desks.

Chickedantz has spearheaded the bar’s new Wellness Committee in an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle for attorneys.

“The idea behind this is not to tell judges and lawyers how they ought to live their lives,” he said. “But being a lawyer, being a judge is, for a number of reasons, a high-stress environment. High stress over a period of time has a lot of byproducts, and most of them are bad.”

To each his own

Mark Waterfill works in the OneAmerica building at Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff.

Three to four days a week, he puts in 30 or 45 minutes on the gym’s treadmill or elliptical trainer.

waterfill-mark-15col.jpg Mark Waterfill, partner at Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff, takes a late-afternoon break to exercise in the OneAmerica Tower fitness center. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“I’m not the picture of a fitness person – I’m a low-impact fitness person,” he said. “My doctor recommended, rather than trying to go on some kind of strict diet, to just try to make sure that I exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week – and that could be walking briskly, riding a bike or pushing a lawn mower – along with muscle strengthening. Body-weight exercises like push ups and sit ups can be part of a weekly muscle-strengthening program. And while the CDC recommendations may sound overwhelming, breaking up exercise into 10-minute increments may make it more manageable.

Collateral benefits

In addition to feeling physically healthier, Gabovitch sees other benefits to regular exercise.

“Even more so than the physical benefit is just the mental benefits of knowing you’re doing something for yourself – getting exhausted and sweatinfitness-time.gifg is just therapeutic, and I think it helps keep you sharp not only physically, but mentally,” he said.

Taking time away from the office to exercise allows him to be alone with his thoughts, Gabovitch explained, while not having to worry about incoming calls or other matters.

“That time that I’m working out during the day is one of the few times during the day where I’m really by myself,” he said.

Chickedantz, who was a runner when he was younger but now gets much of his exercise through golf and trips to the gym, also understands the mental benefits of exercise.

“Google ‘regular exercise’ and ‘stress,’ and you’ll find that it helps reduce stress in most people,” he said. “It’s not rocket science.”

Chickedantz said that he admires the Indiana Supreme Court Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Attorneys who run afoul of codes of conduct and end up in JLAP support programs could possibly have avoided those problems by being better to their bodies – exercising, eating properly, drinking alcohol only in moderation and giving up smoking.

“(JLAP) gets involved when the horse has bolted out of the barn,” Chickedantz said. “So last year, we thought, let’s think of doing something proactive.” JLAP executive director Terry Harrell is a member of the Wellness Committee.

Chickedantz said that the Wellness Committee is still a work in progress, but it has developed a wellness plan law firms can adopt.

Wellness in the workplace

Stephanie Smithey, an attorney for Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, often helps companies craft wellness plans, and it’s a practice that’s caught on in recent years, she said.

“In the early 90s, nobody ever talked about wellness plans,” she said. “After the 90s, you started hearing about this as a concept, and little by little, employers started initiating this in the workplace.”

smithey-stephanie-mug.jpg Smithey

Smithey, co-author of the Indiana Employer’s Guide to Workplace Wellness, said any company that is considering developing a formal workplace wellness plan – one that ties employee health to reduced health care premiums – should seek the input of an attorney familiar with that area of law. But plans that are not directly tied to insurer discounts are relatively easy to put together, she said.

“Let’s say you’re a law firm, and you want to have an annual wellness fair – that can be a very informal program,” she said. “There are going to be very few hoops to jump through.” But she said that if an employer were to offer a health insurance discount to someone who tests within a healthy blood pressure range, that would introduce a “whole range of laws” that employers would need to carefully consider.

Neither Gabovitch nor Waterfill work at firms with wellness plans, they said, although Gabovitch said he’s developing a proposal for such a plan to be implemented next year.

What’s next

The Wellness Committee kicked off events at the ISBA’s annual meeting this year with a 5K run/walk. About 40 people attended, and Chickedantz said, “We’re hopeful that a couple years from now, we may have hundreds.”
The committee will look at ways to partner with other similar events that already have a robust following, like the Susan G. Komen For the Cure race.

Creating and organizing new fitness events is a lot of work, and Indianapolis already has quite a few of those, Chickedantz said. “So our idea was to try to be a small-time collaborator with those events and try to get as many lawyers, judges, law students involved, and at least have a presence.”

Chickedantz said the committee is also working to develop wellness committees in Indiana’s four law schools because law students also encounter a lot of stress in their academic pursuits.

Waterfill said that lawyers, for their own well being, must learn how to break away from their work.

“We get so wrapped up in our work that, a lot of times, it’s hard to make yourself do that,” he said.

Chickedantz agrees that simply making a commitment to get moving can have a profound positive impact on personal health. For example, he said that regardless of anyone’s political views, people would be hard-pressed to disagree with the principles of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, which aims to curb childhood obesity by advocating for healthier eating and increased physical activity.

“If the whole society would pick up on that idea – and this is a big overgeneralization – the healthcare problems that we’ve got today, 30 or 40 years from now, would go away if people across the board would focus on wellness,” he said. “The best health insurance policy as far as I’m concerned is to not get sick, stay healthy.”•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  3. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.