RBG Workout Really Is

When January hit, I was feeling pretty self-righteous about my workout routine at the gym.

“No New Year’s guilt trips for me!” I said.

That was before I received a Christmas gift from my daughter: “The RBG Workout” book. In it, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer lays out (in excruciating detail, with sketches) the 40-minute workout that the 84-year-old Supreme Court justice does twice a week.

“I thought it would be perfect for you!” enthused the gift-giver, who at 29 is apparently eager for me to get in shape.

After chuckling at RBG’s “Super Diva” workout shirt as “cute,” I proceeded with great optimism (after all, she is 84) to try out the 120 pages of exercises from warm-up to cool-down.

Since the gym was jam-packed on New Year’s Day, I sprung for the recommended “home alternatives” for most exercises, which involve chairs, resistance bands, dumbbells, and large cans of vegetables in case you don’t own a medicine ball.

My first clue of trouble ahead came on page 11, when I noticed the suggested weight range for dumbbells was 5 to 20 pounds. A quick look through my dusty home gym equipment confirmed that the heaviest dumbbell I’d ever attempted weighed in at a whopping 3.

An hour and 45 minutes later, my only consolation was she’d had 18 years – from the time she was 66 – to perfect this routine. I still had time.

Still, plodding through the book with its sketches of a grim-faced RBG is daunting. For example, she is not only doing squats but one-legged ones. At least 30 on each leg, to be exact.

Then there is the side plank, in which she holds her body aloft, and raises her left hand straight up in the air, and the seated hamstring stretch, which according to the sketch, she is able to do with the flexibility of a high school cheerleader.

This may be because, as her trainer puts it, the justice is a “cyborg…a machine,” who has to be reminded sometimes to stop exercising and not to push through the pain.

Somehow, I have never needed this kind of reminder. Instead, I’m reminding myself that I don’t have all the equipment required for certain feats, such as a heavy duty door anchor, to attach resistance bands to a door frame.

“No point in even trying the Standing Cable Row or the Chest Fly,” I tell myself gleefully. Even with Amazon Prime shipping, I have a two-day reprieve.

So far, I have been the most spectacular at the warm-up exercises – rotating my neck not only the suggested 3 times but 5. I am also pretty good at the donkey kick and its variation, the fire hydrant, which are performed on all fours safely on the ground.

At one point, I even tied resistance bands to the back legs of chairs and wrapped my ankles in them in a homegrown attempt at a leg extension. Unfortunately, there are no instructions for untying the bands when you are tied to the chair.

Still, I have not given up hope. Since my maternal grandmother was doing yoga and handstands at 65, maybe I have the genes for this. And if not me, I am already urging my 8-year-old granddaughter, who so easily flips from cartwheel to backbend, to keep at it for another 80 years or so.

“Easy peasy,” she says. How I wish I agreed.

Copyright 2018 Pat Snyder

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