a recruiter stays in shape and advances her career

October 2, 2012

in life,wellness

this post is a guest post by kris steen, a woman who’s part of a virtual fitness challenge i’ve participated in for nearly nine months. the challenge offers monthly strength training routines, weekly high-intensity interval training and a virtual support group through facebook.

the main reasons I joined this challenge were to support my neighbor, the founder, and to see firsthand how a virtual challenge with a built-in support group works. i also didn’t think it’d hurt to have someone telling me what exercises to do, as i’d been doing the same exercise routine since college. i was bored with it and so was my body.

i’ll be writing more about the challenge and what i learned from it in another post. today i want to turn things over to kris. kris led a facebook conversation with our group about exercise and work-life aspirations. her message resonated with me, and i thought it’d resonate with you too.


I’m proud of several things in my life, but the one thing that I’ve always loved to talk about is my work. I’ve spent the last 18 years focused on my career as an executive recruiter in the life sciences industry. I started in a very junior role, but today I spend my days talking to, interviewing and assessing highly accomplished people to see if they’d be a fit for clients who are seeking applicants for roles from vice president up to CEO.

I used to define my life by my work. I worked 15 hours a day. I loved it and thought that was the way it should be—until I got married, had my son and picked up some healthy hobbies. I never thought about the success I’d achieved since I started working out. Now that I have, I see how things have changed for me because of it.

I started volunteering with a nonprofit called Back on My Feet, which teaches the homeless confidence and discipline through running. It taught me the same.

I was new to running when I started volunteering. Now I can run half-marathons. Running long distances gave me the confidence to push myself at work and take risks, and I began to believe in myself more and to share my thoughts and opinions more freely. Training has a direct tie to my ability to follow through on projects and manage my time effectively, too. Committing to a training program with an end goal forced me to be disciplined and develop excellent time management skills—essential work skills.

In addition to the benefits gained from exercising, I get others from volunteering. The work keeps me grounded and makes me appreciate my family and all I have. It also makes me realize that the things I may have gotten worked up over at the office are really not as horrible as I thought. This perspective is invaluable.

The mind and the body really do go hand in hand. The majority of executives I’ve interviewed tell me they work out an average of five times a week. Gone are the days of executives golfing and having drinks. Now, they sweat and push themselves physically. Triathlons, marathons, cycling—these are how healthy and successful professionals are spending their free time.

Kris’s tips for working out:
• I’m not a morning person, so I don’t force myself to work out at 5 a.m. if it doesn’t work for my body’s clock. Some days I find myself going for a midday run or hitting the gym at our corporate center. The break in the stressful day clears my head and gets me to step away from an issue. When I get back to it later, I have a fresh perspective.
• If I can’t get away during the day, I change into my workout clothes at work before getting in my car to drive home. I know that once I walk in my front door it will be much harder for me to get back out and exercise. The workout time also gives me a chance to unwind and put a separation between work and home.
• Finding the time that works best for you and your schedule is key, but then making it part of your schedule is the success.

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