The Supreme Trainer: Check in on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Personal Trainer

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainerPolitics aside, just read an interesting take on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, and the strenuous workouts he puts her through.

The amount of work she does at the end of a busy day is very impressive. As is his commitment to her as a client.

When Johnson informed Ginsburg he would be leading me through her workout, she told him, “I hope he makes it through.” This was obviously some sort of coded instruction to humiliate me, because after the stretching, Johnson announced he would make me use double the weight that Ginsburg did on the strength exercises to achieve the same effect.

For most of the exercises, Johnson said Ginsburg performs three sets of 10 to 13 reps, depending on his judgment of what her body is up to on a given day. Sometimes he engages in what he called “counting funny” to customize the length of a set, a habit I noticed when he would mumble a count of “four” under his breath after what felt like at least eight reps.8

The strength exercises started with a machine bench press, where Ginsburg normally puts up 70 pounds. From there it was leg curls and leg presses, chest flies and lat pull-downs, all on machines, while stretching the muscle groups being exercised in between sets. I performed three sets of seated rows and three sets of standing rows.

Impressive at 83 and a reminder to keep going regularly with my own workouts no matter how busy I am. As was this,

Trying a different tack, I asked Johnson what he made of older people who say they forgo vigorous exercise because their friends who work out suffer from all sorts of joint problems. Johnson compared muscles to a pair of pliers — which will get rusty from lack of use but begin to function like a fine-tuned machine if used regularly—and agreed that that sort of just sounded like an excuse.13

Find the article on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer here. 

Here are some other resources for staying fit despite a busy and hectic lifestyle.

I’ve written about fitness here

The New Yorker just came out with The RBG Workout

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