Hiam Koglashvili (1L)
There are few certainties in life. They include death, taxes, and a very stressful first year in law school. The general demands of law school can wreak havoc on your fitness routine and mental well-being.
When I walked into the Jackman Law Building for a guided tour, back in April, I inquired about creating a health and fitness organization at the law school. I had this grand plan: I would create a group simply as an excuse to ensure that I maintained my own regimented workout routine. What I didn’t expect is that the Health and Fitness Organization would morph into the robust group it is today.
Being a 1L can be daunting on its own; being the only 1L with a booth at the Club Fair is a nightmare. At the time, my organization consisted of only a single person and a grand idea, but I came out of the fair with over seventy names and email addresses. It was clear that many of my peers shared at least some interest in maintaining their health and fitness throughout the grind of law school.
When Dana O’Shea joined the executive team as Vice-President, we made a commitment to focus our group on promoting a healthy body, mind, and soul for all law students and faculty. The Facebook group has taken on a life of its own. It has become a community filled with members celebrating people’s fitness accomplishments and supporting people through struggles. Some members shared why it was unnecessary to beat themselves up for indulging in holiday food during Thanksgiving and Rosh Hashanah. Others talked about the struggle of going back to the gym after a long lay-off. Putting these issues out in the open has allowed our members to come together, share their own experiences, and provide support for each other.
What makes this organization different is that it doesn’t add another demand on your time like an extra-curricular activity does. There are no weekly meetings. We are a supportive community where the only time commitments are our members’ self-imposed fitness goals.
So, what’s the catch? How does it work?
At the beginning of every month, each person sets a goal for how many times they want to be active each week. Each time they go to the gym or do an analogous fitness activity, they take a selfie or, if they don’t like taking selfies, a picture of the equipment, a body part, or the location. There are no limitations when it comes to defining a fitness activity: we have encouraged our members to join the school’s running group, attend intramurals, or participate in yoga and meditation. Photos are either sent privately, with the promise that they will never be shared without express permission, or posted publicly on the Facebook group. At the end of each month, we host a health-and-fitness-themed event to celebrate our members’ dedication to maintaining their own physical and mental wellness.
Going through your health and fitness journey alone can sometimes be discouraging. This is why we supplement the group with fitness mentors and fitness buddies. Members can request their own fitness mentor to help them construct their fitness routines and learn basic form at the gym. Members can also be matched up with a buddy so that the pair can motivate each other to meet their own goals, workout together, and find another person with similar health and fitness interests.
The group has only started to realize its potential. Thirteen percent of law school students are group members, while forty-three students, and even one professor, are currently following the month-long fitness accountability program. We are continuously trying to expand our community to reach as many law school students as possible. This organization is not just made for the active gym-goer. Our community speaks to everybody at the law school, from those who dislike the gym to people who are simply intimidated by getting started on their fitness journey.
There is at least one certainty other than death, taxes, and the stress of law school: the Health and Fitness Organization is here to stay and we are going to start a health and fitness revolution here at University of Toronto Faculty of Law.