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December 18, 2017 | ‎ל׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״ח‎

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How to Stay Fit During the Jewish High Holidays

How to Stay Fit During the Jewish High Holidays

Oftentimes we think there’s so much to do to in the days and weeks preparing for the Jewish High Holidays that we simply won’t have time for exercise.

Even the most disciplined women find it difficult to maintain their exercise routines due to schedule and eating changes during Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.

As a personal trainer, even I struggle with keeping up my exercises during this time. However, it can be done. I’m going share the strategy and mindset that my training clients and I use. It’ll help you emerge renewed and re-energized about working out.

Set workout goals for the year

Source: Attitudes 4 Innovation

My religious teachers recommended using a notebook dedicated to logging what spiritual changes I wished to make in the coming year before each Rosh Hashanah.

I also track similar goals for my nutrition and exercise in a notebook. With your objectives in writing, you can re-read and re-evaluate them during the year to keep yourself accountable.  

Schedule your workouts

Source: Bendiful Blog

I put my workout into my schedule as if it were any other kind of appointment. If your lifestyle defies regular appointment style scheduling, do your exercise intermittently around the tasks of the day.

For instance, perform 10 squats at the top of every hour, or three modified push-ups before switching cleaning tasks. If you don’t have time for a regular 30-60 minute workout, know that even 5-10 minutes of exercise in a day is better than nothing.

Work out whenever, wherever

Source: BuzzFeed

You do not need a gym in order to work out! My favorite exercises when I’m in a time crunch are body weight based moves like push-ups, planks, crunches, and squats because they can be done virtually anywhere, with minimal space, and no equipment.

Walking while introspecting is a great way to prepare for the seriousness of the Jewish High Holidays, and getting outside in the sunshine is one of the best ways to reset your internal clock and lift your mood.

Work out with the family

Source: Today

Got kids? Jump rope and tag can be fun full-family activities. Hiking, biking, and boating are ways to stay active on Chol HaMoed followed by stretch out time in the Sukkah.

Give yourself some slack

One of the beautiful things about the Jewish tradition is that by observing the holidays we’re practically forced into some degree of moderation which is, in itself, a key to good health. Know it is OK to take a break! Our creator made us perfectly imperfect. Nobody stays on track all the time.

If your exercise needs to take a break for a few days or you eat a little more, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, remind yourself that taking care of your health by exercising is a way to show yourself love, not to punish yourself, and get back on track as soon as you can.

Now, here are some exercise ideas for the Jewish High Holidays.


Begin standing with feet facing forward. Legs shoulder width apart.

Shift your weight into your heels and inhale as you sit into an imaginary chair. Working within your comfortable range of motion, try to get your thighs parallel to the floor while keeping your knees behind your toes. Exhale as you stand to complete the movement.

This exercise strengthens the top of the thighs and buttocks.

To progress this exercise to a more advanced/level 2 option, it can be performed as a Jump Squat instead. Begin as above. Standing. Feet shoulder width apart. Shift weight into your heels. Inhale as you sit into an imaginary chair. Aim to make your thighs parallel to the floor. Don’t be shy about sticking your butt out to keep your knees behind the toes. Exhale as you jump.


This exercise targets the hamstrings and glutes. Begin lying on the floor on your back. Feet flat on the floor. Legs hip width apart. Exhale as you squeeze your glutes and raise your hips off the floor. Inhale as you lower the hips back toward the door low enough that you could slide a piece of paper between your tush and the floor but don’t let your tush hit the floor. Repeat.


Planking targets the core. Begin prone (on your tummy). Elbows directly under shoulders. Toes flexed ball of the foot on the floor. Exhale as you draw your belly button toward your spine. Create space under your arm pits. Firm your glutes. Relax the shoulders back and down away from your ears. Lengthen through the crown of the head. Keeping ears, shoulders, hips, and knees on one straight line breathe steadily and evenly. Hold this posture for 8-30 seconds.

Side Plank

Side planking targets the obliques. Also works shoulders. Begin side-lying. Elbow directly under shoulder. Hips and knees stacked. Bottom leg bent. Top leg straight with foot on the floor. Spine in neutral.

Exhale as you lift the hips off the ground. Keep your abs engaged. Create space between your ribs and the floor. Leave the bottom knee and the top foot pressing onto the floor as you maintain your hip lifting. Inhale back to start. Repeat. Lifting and lowering the hip. Repeat on other side.

Modified Push-Up

Targets the anterior deltoid/front of the shoulder. Triceps/back of the arm and pectoralis major/chest. Begin on all fours/in tabletop position – hands and knees on the floor. Hands wider than shoulder width and fingers spread. Hands are about parallel to shoulders. Keeping your belly button drawn in toward your spine, shift your hips forward so your ears, shoulders, hips, and knees form one straight line.

Inhale as you bend at the elbow lowering your body toward the floor. Aim to lower the body such that a small orange could fit between your chest and the floor. Exhale as you straighten the elbows and push back up to start. Keep your spine in neutral by drawing your belly button toward your spine throughout this movement. Do not allow the low back to sag.

Keep ears, shoulders, hips, and knees in one straight line from beginning to end during this movement.

Seated Twist

Targets the abs. Begin seated. Heels on the floor. Legs together. Knees bent. Interlock your hands. Lean back with a neutral spine until you feel your abs engage. Twist slowly side to side.

Getting started

These six exercises work the major muscle groups with a focus on abs. They can be performed consecutively for 8-12 repetitions each as a complete circuit. Alternatively, they could also be performed with a timer for 30-45 seconds per exercise with a 10-15 second break between exercises. Be sure to listen to your body. Take it at your own pace and modify as necessary.

This circuit is designed for ladies without knee and/or low back issues. Always listen to your body. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Happy working out!

  • Rebecca K.

    Can you do an article on exercised recommended for those with low back problems next?