Iron Man

Personal trainer Michael Rusin doesn't just talk the talk; he runs the run

Published in 2009 Illinois Super Lawyers — February 2009

It was almost Dr. Michael Rusin.

"I had an agonizing decision to make as to whether I was going to pursue a legal career or a medical career," he says. "I would have done the medicine thing, but I wasn't really all that crazy about the sight of blood, and I really wasn't crazy about dead people."

Today, Rusin's practice at Rusin Maciorowski & Friedman revolves around workers' compensation, but he hasn't abandoned medicine completely. "I became a certified personal trainer and a certified spin instructor," he says, "and there's a lot of medical classes you have to take for [personal training]."

The knowledge comes in handy. "In a work comp practice, we're always second-guessing doctors or medical treatment. And we're basically forcing people, to a certain extent, to change or stop their medical treatment because we think it's not reasonable and necessary. So we wind up fighting with doctors a lot."

He also sends private investigators to gather evidence about claimants' injuries. "I'd say 20 percent of our cases involve surveillance. The most fun cases are the ones where we know the claimant is going to say he's really disabled, and we have surveillance that shows the guy's fine. It's amazing what people do when they don't realize they're being surveilled. Especially the guys that do heavy gardening work—or they're shingling their roof—and they claim they can't sit on a forklift truck."

Rusin, 53, doesn't just talk the talk of personal training, either. He's completed an Ironman triathlon, 25 marathons (Boston twice) and countless other endurance events. Recently he participated in a 200-mile relay in Oregon.

"Once you get up to the Ironman level, it's so different than the marathon level," he says. "'Cause the marathon, for a decent runner, it's only about a three-and-a-half-hour experience. Ironman, even if you do good, you're looking at 12 hours. So when you get to the end of an Ironman ... you're just absolutely elated. The last few miles is just like, ‘Wow, if I pound through this I'll really accomplish something.'"

Rusin encourages lawyers from his office to join him at the gym, where they can discuss cases while working out. "When I started, a lot of people had a bonding experience by going out and pounding down a bunch of drinks. I much prefer to take people out on a run. And that's actually the best way to bond. You find out more about people on a long run than anywhere else."

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