Rebecca Bell and Swaathi Balajawahar, Trainee Solicitors in our London office, discuss how a shared love of sport has allowed them to support each other through their training contracts.

Training contracts are often fast paced, high-pressured, and a constant learning curve. Since starting our first seat together in Asset Finance (duly dubbing ourselves the ‘Aircraft Amigos’), we’ve built a routine of sport and exercise that allows us to keep check of our own mental health, while also checking in on each other. 

Over the summer, when the evenings are lighter and the pace of work perhaps a little slower, the charms of a sun-soaked court or pitch are clear. But it’s often the cold and dark mornings, at the busiest times of the year, that can offer the biggest mental health rewards. 

We’ve sought to provide each other with accountability (and hopefully motivation!) to make it to that early yoga class or onto the squash court over the winter months and it’s been a highlight even on the coldest and busiest days. Now that – without jinxing it – the weather does seem to be turning, we’ve branched out and the unfortunate users of Southwark’s tennis courts bear regular witness to a wayward ball flying in their direction. We've also found joy in sharing with one another the sports that we grew up with and now boast newfound abilities to hold a badminton racket correctly, and to tell a piaffe from a passage.

The nature of the training contract means that you go from being ‘Aircraft Amigos’ with daily contact, as part of the same team, to working on a different floor, perhaps for different hours and with different demands. Carving out time to participate in sport together is a valuable opportunity to touch base with one another and provide support as workstreams and personal pressures ebb and flow.  

Both of us competed at international level throughout our education, but our participation in sport evolved when we started our career journeys. Now there’s less focus on the results and more on fun, and alongside a job which gives regular opportunities to strive for high achievement, participating in something purely for the sake of it allows us to find some balance. We certainly won’t be troubling the hallowed courts of the All England Club any time soon – in fact, we’ve loosely created a new genre of tennis whereby a successful ‘match’ is measured in how many times we actually manage to return the ball. The number is often low.

The stress-relieving effects of physical exercise are well documented, and after those long or particularly difficult days, it’s a great outlet to help let off steam. Some of our best matches have been played when we’ve both been at our busiest… some of our worst just produce a lot of laughter. It's a win-win, regardless of points scored, and we both feel very fortunate to be sharing the training contract and the courts with each other.