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In the News: Lawyer Bikes, Kayaks to Work

Charleston lawyer Rusty Webb has put a new spin on commuting to work.

He bikes for two miles from his Kanawha City home to a dock where a friend permits him to keep his kayak. Then he paddles another two miles along the Kanawha River from 30th Street to Haddad Riverfront Park. From there he carries the 60-pound kayak to his Capitol Street law office.

"I have to change hands a couple of times," he said of toting the watercraft.

One day last week, Webb did a "mini triathalon" that included biking to the dock, kayaking to the levy, running three miles during his lunch break, and then traveling back home via kayak and bike.

Webb hopes other area residents will pick up on the idea that Charleston offers many exercise and recreational opportunities.

"Carrying a kayak should be a common sight," he said. "The river is really a big lake that we should enjoy all the time. I don't think it is used to its potential."

While some say it's hard to work exercise into a hectic schedule, Webb can't imagine life without exercise. Twice a week, he heads for First Presbyterian Church to join a group of guys for basketball, an activity they have enjoyed for 15 years.

While he is obviously very active, Webb said it is getting harder to keep his weight down. He is 6 feet tall and weighs 195 pounds.

"I'm 10 months away from 50," said Webb, who celebrates his big birthday June 29. "This summer it took more exercise to keep my weight down."

He eats light for breakfast and lunch. He keeps food at his office so he can avoid restaurants where he tends to eat things that are higher in fat. Breakfast is often instant oatmeal while lunch is tuna or chicken salad with a low-fat soup.

"Dinner is my Achilles' heel," he said with a laugh. "That is when I eat. At dinner I eat whatever my wife cooks. Dinner is my exception."

While meals at home are generally healthy, finding good food while working out of town can be a real challenge, he added.

"I've got to watch what I eat better," he said.

Maintaining a healthy regimen requires planning and organization.

"I bring my lunch and clothes to work on the weekend," he said. "The law firm next door has a locker room with showers."

Before he added kayaking, he was either running or biking to work from his Kanawha City home. He will exercise outdoors as long as weather permits and then move indoors for workouts.  Webb aims for three times a day and sometimes must be satisfied with one activity a day.

He has been talking to the mayor about holding an event for the entire city that would bring recreational clubs and fitness experts to Charleston. The event would be geared to trigger enthusiasm for exercise and change the perception of the area's health climate.

"The mayor seems interested," he said. "We'll have to see. Something radical is needed for the whole state."

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