Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

There’s nothing like working out to transform you from a flabby guy who needs to go to the gym to a flabby guy who needs to take a shower.  That said, the following are some tips that I’ve picked up in almost two years of going to exercise classes, on and off.  Before you take my advice, though, bear in mind that I’ve been in this class for almost two years now, I’m in the same class as people who’ve joined way more recently, and I’m showing no signs of eventually graduating.

- The best way to get through exercise is to not think about the fact that you’re doing exercise.  For example, you can try thinking about something else, such as all the work you have to do when you get home.  Although if you’re working out in a group setting, your thoughts will keep getting interrupted by people screaming.  So our advice is to blast music.  If you’re working out in the Three Weeks, you can try blasting chazanus.  Though that sounds a lot like screaming.

- A lot of exercise is what we in the teaching industry call “busy work”.  Like your teacher will tell you to lift something, and you’ll say, “No problem.  Where would you like me to put it?” And he’ll say, “Right back where you found it.”  And you’ll say, “Then why am I lifting it?”  And he’ll say, “Less talking, more lifting,” and then you’ll never know. 

- Personally, if I would run a workout class, I would combine it with something useful, like a moving company.  That way, people will pay me to move their stuff, and then other people will pay me for the ability to help me move those people’s stuff.  And then every hour, the next class would come in and take over.  I’d just have to find people to sign up for my class who don’t mind occasionally travelling several hours to work out.  I’d probably call it, “Movers and Shakers”. 

- The reason the busy work is annoying, as someone who is working out, is that when you’re doing something useful, such as moving furniture, you can tell yourself that the job is almost over.  Whereas lifting weights and putting them right back down can keep going infinitely, especially if the teacher gets distracted by his phone.  When you’re moving furniture, your wife isn’t suddenly going to say, “Okay, great job!  Now let’s move everything to a third house.”

- Experts advise that you do stretches before exercising, because they want to give you something easy to do to get you out on the mat before springing all the harder things on you.  Like with Pharaoh – Day One was stretching, and everyone got a free T-shirt.  For example, one popular stretch is to try to touch your toes.  If you can’t reach your toes, just touch whatever you can reach, such as your stomach.

- If you’re working out with a group, you might want to stand in front of the room.  This will keep you motivated, because people are not only looking at you, they’re also following what you do because they didn’t hear what the instructor said to do because of the music.  (“He’s clutching his back and writhing around on the floor; let’s do that.”  “What?”) 

- Don’t keep constantly weighing yourself -- it’s just discouraging.  Last week I weighed myself immediately before class and then again afterwards, and it turned out that I’d gained a half a pound just lifting weights.  It was either that or the 15 water breaks I took. 

- The more you sweat when you’re working out, the more weight you’re losing.  Scientifically, this means that if you’re overweight, it’s not the food you’re eating that’s making you fat, it’s because you have too much sweat trapped inside you, and you should be doing more things that make you sweat, like giving speeches and going for job interviews. 

 - Technically, you can work out at home instead, using an exercise machine that your friend was getting rid of because he never uses it.  But even if you do use it, you are, at most, just working out that one part of your body, and you’ll eventually be known as the guy with the size 50 jacket and the size 25 pants.  So if you’re working out at home, you want to buy one of every type of machine.  Or buy one machine that won’t make you entirely disproportionate, like a treadmill.

- Treadmills are great, because you can go for a walk in the comfort of your own home, which is something our ancestors never even dreamed of.  If they’d had treadmills, they wouldn’t have had to bother walking everywhere.

- I make fun of treadmills, but sometimes going on an actual walk is impractical, like if you don’t want to hire a babysitter for this, or you don’t want to drag your kids around town for a brisk walk.  Or if you can only work out in the evenings, and you live in a bad neighborhood.  And if you run in the house without a treadmill, your wife is all, “No running in the house!”  Also, regular walks don’t come with a cup holder.

- There are also other exercises you can do in the house, such as jumping jacks.  On the other hand, your jumping jacks shake the house, which is why you need to do jumping jacks, so you can only do them in the basement, which has a painfully low ceiling.

- A lot of experts also recommend that you do bodyweight exercises.  Bodyweight exercises are where you lift your own body – as in pushups and squats – and the idea is that either you’ll have massive muscles from it, no offense, or your body will decide that it would be a lot easier to just lose weight so you’ll have less to lift.  Either way you win.  Until you have so much less to lift that it’s not a real workout anymore, so you have to start lifting other people’s bodies, perhaps as part of a chevra kadisha.

- Another option is to train for a 5k, which is apparently a kind of race or a marathon or something, where people stand on the sidelines and hold out cups of water, because otherwise there are no cup holders.  The K stands for “kilometers”.  Runners measure distance in kilometers, because “5 kilometers” sounds better than “3 miles”.  In fact, to people who don’t run, it sounds like you’re doing 5 thousand of something.  Or you’re investing for your retirement.

- Don’t worry so much about finding a 5k to sign up for.  You don’t have to actually run the 5k.  Running a 5k isn’t as much exercise as training for a 5k. 

- If you’re jogging on the street, you want to make sure to wear exercise clothes, if only so people will stop pulling over and offering you rides.  (“You seem like you’re in a hurry to get to where you’re going.  At least let me carry your cup.”)

- Also, if a crime occurs in your area, you don’t want the cops to think you did it.  Exercise clothes help establish an alibi, as very few home burglars wear workout clothes, despite all the furniture and appliances they’re lifting.  They should at least wear a hernia belt.

- The best way of getting exercise without going to the gym is by finding a more stressful, time-consuming way to do simple tasks.  For example, you can stop stacking your plates before bringing them into the kitchen.  Bring in the groceries with one of your kids wrapped around each leg.  Pick up your kids’ carpool on a bike, dragging a baby trailer behind you.  (Doing this in workout clothes goes without saying.)  Keep forgetting things upstairs.  In fact, put everything away on the opposite side of your house from where you need it.  (“Um… Shprintzy, where are my socks?”  “Milchig drawer.”)  And instead of sitting at your work desk on a regular office chair, just do an 8-hour squat.  Even if you’re at a business meeting.   Oh, and stop letting the kids help with your chores.  Let them figure out their own workouts.

- If, after you exercise, your body feels all tired, then working out is obviously not for you.

- No, scratch that.  If you’re in pain when you’re done, it means you did something right.  Of course, it could mean that you did something wrong.  Good luck figuring out which.

- Be aware that the first time you work out, it surprises your body, and your body is in shock for a few days afterward.  Though you’d think that, seeing as it was right there when you were talking about working out, so it shouldn’t have been surprised, right?  But then you have to realize how many times you’ve talked about working out and then not actually done it.  Your body figured it was just another one of those times.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.