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Summer is here and it's time to get in shape. No holidays now, other than Tisha BAv and the fast day of Yud Zayin Tamuz, giving us the chance to take off some weight for the summer.
There are so many different kinds of gyms nowadays, all based on different exercises. Here are some popular gym workouts and how Jews have adapted them to Frum life, so that they can get their summer Bungalow Body.
Many Crossfit workouts, like hurricanes, are named after people. For example, there is the Fran, named after a 90 year old lady who can't do pullups. This workout is known as the Rivka Chaya. This is where you chase your kids around shul for twenty-five minutes on Saturday morning, and then stand in the back and pray for three minutes, and then repeat. This Work Out of the Day, WOD, consists of four rounds and lasts two hours.
Running after kids is a great shul workout, if you want to disturb everybody’s prayers. You can also add in the yelling at your kids in shul. Yelling at your child, Rivka Chaya, is a traditional part of this WOD.
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
We do this when we bend down to get on the floor on Yom Kippur. Many people know this movement as Burpees. Some of us call it prostrating ourselves, and it is hard.
Once a year is enough. We only do this HIIT workout on the High Holidays, as the grunting sounds heard when people bend in shul disturbs the Chazan's repetition of Musaf. Muslims get down on the floor and prayer burpee every day; which is why Muslims are usually in better shape than Jews. Muslims also fast for a month. We burpee and fast on Yom Kippur, then spend the rest of the month recuperating and complaining.
Anything stationary is perfect. We like to exercise by not moving. Second to getting up to get the remote control, the stationary bike is the Jewish workout of choice.
Jewish Yoga done with machines otherwise used to execute people. You do Pilates to hopefully be forgiven for your sins that may still be there from Yom Kippur. This is why you exercise by placing yourself in these contraptions of self-inflicted retribution.
Don't worry about your ability level. Even if you can't do a split, the Pilates machine will make sure you do. The machine has been used before to rip apart limbs.
Similarly, there is Feldenkrais; an exercise style developed in Israel, where you place yourself in positions of self-inflicted pain, in order to feel good. I don’t do Feldenkrais, because I feel like I am sinning when I say the name. Although, I screamed out 'Feldenkrais' when I stubbed my toe.
Go To The Gym
Watch other people work out. That is stressful enough. You can do this using the machines as well, standing on the treadmill or even sitting on one of the many benches. I generally like to sit on the adductor machine. That is quite comfortable. Great backrest.
I would suggest going to your local JCC to watch the non-Jews workout. The stress caused by seeing people lifting that much over their head, and worrying if it will drop, will definitely take off some calories and get a bissel of a shvitz going.
Going to the gym and watching, you can get involved in multiple workouts at the same time. I remember once watching somebody circuit training, another lifting weights, another doing plyometrics, and then somebody on the elliptical machine. That was an intense trip to the gym for me.
Note of Importance: Make sure you’re known at the gym first. Otherwise, this could come off as a bit creepy; especially if you’re sitting in front of their machine and staring right at them.
Go from station to station. You've got this one. You do this at the smorgasbord already.
Pesach Plate Lifts
Lifting weights is about the amount of plates you're pushing.
You lift the plate with the Matzah at the Seder table. Great shoulder workout. It doesn’t end there. Passover is done. Now it is time restock the Passover silverware and china. Lift those plates while standing on a ladder; a post Passover three-hour workout. Core and shoulders work as the rest of the family watches TV, just like they did when you cleaned for Passover.
This is known as Simcha Dancing. To do Jewish Party Dancing well, you will want to master the grapevine. The Jewish shin-high kick and knee lifts to ankle height are also part of this aerobic movement; generally done in lines or circles. This exercise is best practiced with a live band in between the pasta, schnitzel, cola and eating the souffle.
Go to Gym Overly Dressed
Many say that their Jewish friends try to look too good when going to the gym. I say, “Look good. That’s the way to workout.”
Wearing more clothes works to help you lose weight. You sweat much more sitting in long sleeves and layers. Most people in the gym are not losing weight, because they’re wearing shorts. You show up in sweatpants and a denim skirt, you are losing weight and looking good. Add on makeup. Do you know how much sweat makeup adds to a workout?!
Rivka Chaya can tell you how much sweat makeup adds to a workout.
You can keep fit as a religious Jew. Keep active with your Jewish traditions and always workout in Shabbat clothes. If you can make it to Israel, you will keep in shape trying to get to lunch. Just stepping outside in the Tel Aviv summer heat, you will be shvitzing. If you can’t make it to Israel, then head to shul and make sure they turn off the air-conditioning.
Stay in shape with the community, at shul. You want classes? Shul is full of them. Gemara is a great way to take off a few. And you can even build strength if you carry a big one. For more aerobics, you also have the Kiddush walk away from people you don’t want to talk to. And then you have the silent prayer group bowing, to help work the core. So, keep fit and go to shul!
***Next time we will delve into more popular shul and holiday workouts, to help you keep that Bungalow Body. We will also talk about the most popular Jewish sport, going to the Shvitz.
And remember our motto - 'If you're shvitzing you're exercising.'
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