July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

All right, enough pushing things off. We really need to start working out. Right after this article.

My main issue is that over the lockdown I never actually had time to work out. When should I have exercised, considering that when I do exercise, I shake the whole house? When all my kids are on the phone with their classes?

(“Um, is there an earthquake where you live?”)

Not could I walk out of the house and leave my kids to their own devices. (Not that all my kids have devices. I’m saying they would forget to call in to class.) And when everyone was off the phone, I was either doing homework with them or trying to get work done. Or they were in bed, and I don’t want to shake the house then either.

And now you’re asking, “Well, how do people in prison stay fit?”

Well, they don’t have to make time to clean the lockdown facility and homeschool their kids and make their work deadlines. We should lock them up with their kids. That should be a thing.

So then the question is how do you work the exercise time into the rest of your day?

People say, “Maybe you can run everywhere that you need to go. That way, you get a workout in, plus it saves you time over walking everywhere.” Which assumes that until now you were walking everywhere.

“Like run to work!” they say.

And I have to say that showing up to work smelling like you ran is good for social distancing.

So then where should you run? Shul? The last thing you want to do after you get to shul all shvitzy is put on your hat and jacket and tallis and tefillin and fight about the A/C.

And you say, “Well, why don’t you run home from shul?”

Well, apparently, you’re not allowed to do that.

So I recently came across a bunch of articles about how you can do your necessary, everyday housework in a way that turns simple chores into a workout. The key, one article says, is to “Look at the task that needs to be done and think to yourself, ‘What’s the hardest way I can do this physically?’ Like if you’re mopping the floor, wouldn’t it be more of a workout to do it without the stick? Likewise mowing the lawn.

Like for example, the best way to work out while vacuuming is to not empty the bag so you have to go over the same spot 10 times and then bend down and feed the dirt into the bottom like you’re at a petting zoo.

Here are some of the other tips they gave:

While you’re folding laundry, do squats.

While taking out the trash, do bicep curls. That to me is a good way to get sauce on your pants. I guess that’s why many of your workout experts generally wear shorts. Also, do sprints while holding the garbage bags. The best way to do that, I find, is to forget that it’s garbage day until you hear the trucks in the morning.

If you have stairs, go up and down a few times a day. Instead of leaving things at the bottom of the stairs for a malach to bring up.

I’m also adding these, while we’re at it:

Carry around a baby that needs to be changed. That way you’re carrying it straight out, away from your body, which is great for your triceps, biceps… one of the ceps. And if you end up having to do the job yourself, maybe do squats at the same time.

Bring all your groceries in one trip. Second trips are for weaklings. Or maybe more trips is better. I don’t know. Either way, buy a lot of groceries. That will help you lose weight.

Walk around a lot while you’re making phone calls. I already got that covered. Should I run around? I’ve definitely had callers ask why I’m panting; they don’t need to hear me fighting for my life.

Basically, the idea is to bring up your heart rate while you’re doing chores. You can also do that while yelling things about why you have to be the one to do all the chores. But if you’re like me and you’re listening to a shiur at the time, you wouldn’t be able to hear the shiur over your yelling. This is why I personally can’t work out during chores; that’s when I get a lot of my learning in. Because I don’t really have a commute, nebech.

In fact, it occurs to me that the reason a lot of men in our circles don’t have time to work out is that, on top of everything else, we have to learn. Though maybe, using a lot of the same principles, we can turn learning into a workout: Hold your sefer the whole time. In choosing a limud, try to go with your larger seforim. Shuckle. This was invented many years ago, and now we know the reason. Darshen with your entire arm. None of this wimpy wrist stuff. Make sure to alternate between both arms. (Women can do this one too, while talking to neighbors.) Put away every sefer. Especially if you have to go up and down a stepladder with your hands full.

And we can also bring these workouts to davening: Pace back and forth. Actually, forget pacing. Side-to-side sprints are better. Flex while putting on tefillin. Flex both arms, actually, to keep it even. Slow down your calf raises during Kedusha to burn as many calories as possible. A lot of your rabbanim have been doing this for years. Do a full squat when you have to kneel during Shemoneh Esrei. Your head should be lower than the table. Try to dance in shul whenever possible. This is how the chasidishe community keeps it down.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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