This is the workout that I did this evening. It is based on the Book of Esther, and is annotated to explain the rationale behind each exercise from the story of Purim.
Try it out! It was a very schvitzy experience for all of us.
Purim Workout I – Hamantaschen Buster
Rabbi Michael Ungar
50 minute workout
Tabata: 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest; each superset completed twice, followed by 90-second rest. Total of six rounds of supersets (plus warm-up and cool-down)
Equipment needed: mats, dumbbells, medicine ball, kettle bell
Achashverosh’s party – to reflect the party we stretched and danced for 1 minute to Hebrew Workout music from Spotify. King Achashverosh threw a party at which he asked his queen, Vashti, to dance. She refused so she was banished and the king searched for a new queen.
Warm-up: Stretch & Dance
Beauty pageant – Not exactly politically-correct, but the king held a pageant to find a new queen. He chose Esther who (unbeknownst to him) was Jewish. The lunges represent the walk down the runway that pageant competitors do; Warrior 3 is like talent competition; floor hip abductions are because Esther managed to get a “leg up” on the competition.
Walking lunges with dumbbells
Warrior 3 (lean forward, balance on one leg, arms forward)
Floor Hip Abductions (on side, raise upper leg – each side 20 seconds)
Mordechai discovers the plot while sitting at the gate – Mordechai overhears a plot to kill the king and reports it to the authorities; he is not rewarded, but his deeds are recorded in the king’s records. Sit-ups because the plot had have caused Mordechai to sit up; single-arm side bends because it looks like you are listening in when you do these; the Russian twist because…well…so many twists to the story.
Dumbbell Side bends (one arm with dumbbell, other at ear)
Russian twists with weighted ball or kettlebell
Mordechai won’t bow to Haman – Haman, the king’s vizier was a power-hungry guy and no friend to the Jews. He had quite an ego and demanded that everyone bow down to him. The bent-over dumbbell rows represent those who did bow down; the upright rows or presses represent the Jews who would not bow down; the supermans because Mordechai was a super guy!!
Bent-over Dumbbell Rows
Upright Rows or Dumbbell Overhead Presses
Haman plans to kill the Jews – Haman was so incensed by Mordechai’s and the Jews’ refusal to bow to him that he convinced the king to allow him to kill all the Jews with the excuse that they were different and not loyal to the ruler. Lots (in Hebrew, Purim) were drawn to determine the day it would happen. To represent his evil plot, this is the most evil superset in the workout; no one was killed in the workout, but it was close!
Esther intercedes – Mordechai knew the only way to save the Jews was to have Esther speak to her husband, the King. This would involve her revealing her true identity. It was a gamble, but Mordechai convinced Esther to do it. Her fear and ambivalence are reflected in shrugs; the front raises represent the king raising his scepter (a sign of his allowing her to speak); the hammer curls represent the strength Esther needed to confront the king and challenge Haman.
Dumbbell Front Raises
Bicep Hammer Curls
The Jews are victorious – The king could not rescind the decree to have the Jews killed, but allowed the Jews to defend themselves. This prevented their being destroyed; Haman and his sons were hanged and the Jews were, once again, victorious. The squats represent our enemies who were reduced to squat; we crushed our enemies; and the tricep kickbacks? A reminder of the three-cornered hat worn by Haman that is the basis for the three-cornered Hamantaschen pastry we eat on the holiday.
Dumbbell Skull Crushers
The Celebration – After a tough workout, there is no better way to celebrate than to cool down and stretch it out. And that is a workout based on the Book of Esther and the Purim Story!