Finding Balance is a Walk in the Park

July 27, 2020

From the Desk of the COO

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on right now, it’s that we really want to get out of the house. Whether you have returned to the office or are still working from home, the desire for outdoor recreation has never been higher. Those who have physically gone back to work have gotten a taste of their former freedom and are eager for more. Those who never left home quarantine are even more desperate than ever to find some form of escape. For me, walking has become an important part of my routine and I have found it beneficial on many levels.

During the nationwide shutdown, I encountered my first full-scale work-from-home experience. It was much more challenging than I anticipated. For someone like myself who has trouble turning off work mode to begin with, working from home only made that more difficult and I struggled to find that work-life balance. While it was great having more face time with my kids, it only further added to the complicated nature of remote work. That is when I began walking.

At first, I started walking around my neighborhood. I found that escaping the house for even just a quick jaunt around the block really helped me relax and get rid of the feeling of being pent up. I also discovered that the combination of fresh air and exercise really helped me focus. Much to the chagrin of my colleagues, I would often return from my walks with a head full of ideas, projects, and other miscellaneous tasks that I would unceremoniously unleash on them over the phone or on a video chat.

Another unintended consequence I noticed was that I began seeing more of my neighbors. It was a strange phenomenon that in a time when we were meant to distance from others, I somehow became more connected than ever to those who lived nearby. Conversing in person, even at a distance, proved to balance out the hours of staring at a grid of faces on my laptop for multiple hours a day. It helped to foster that human connection that gets lost in translation on a screen and cannot be replicated by technology.

As the country started to safely reopen, I began venturing further out for my walks. The Cleveland Metroparks have been an incredible resource and a great place to escape from home and work. However, as beautiful and relaxing as they are, they proved to be a little too remote for someone like myself who needs to be plugged-in at all times. That is when I turned to the age-old art of mall walking, and Crocker Park became the new setting for my walks.

Crocker Park provides the perfect environment for exercising. At over a million square feet, it offers plenty of room to exercise and multiple green spaces that allow for safe distancing from other guests. Beyond that, it has more than 30 eateries with curbside pickup, takeout, and distanced indoor/outdoor dining space to help me refuel during my visit and get some work done if needed, not to mention the 100+ shops available. They are even in the process of adding a dedicated walking path with suggested routes and mile markers.

The benefits of exercise are not new. Time and again studies have shown that walking does wonders for physical and mental well being. What has changed is the circumstances. It is more important than ever to discover a safe way to escape and recharge in a way the best suits your situation. I strongly recommend walking, it’s an easy yet thorough way to find some balance.


Ezra Stark, Chief Operating Officer