Religion Magazine

The Haredi Answer to Balancing Fitness and Torah Learning

By Gldmeier @gldmeier

As awareness is raised for health and fitness, people in the haredi community also follow that trend and wish to improve their levels of fitness, health and weight control. The problem is that fitness centers, workout gyms, health clubs, are almost always very inappropriate for the haredi community - whether it is because of the mixed clientele, the televisions or even just the nature of the beast (places that encourage musclemen and the like).
Some gyms have some separate hours for men and women, yet the trend has still never really taken off. A large par of why it is discouraged, or frowned upon, is also due to it being considered bittul torah.
The problem may now have been solved, in an attempt to bring more haredi people into the health trend. Some new health clubs, for men only, have opened up in Bnei Braq and in Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem that minimize the bittul torah in more than one way. They have placed stands or shtenders near the workout units, allowing exercisers to exercise while learning. I am not sure what the big deal is - anybody could until now have placed his seffer on the front panel of the treadmill and continued reading while walking or running. or, they could have used mp3 players to listen to shiurim while exercising, as many do. But these stands do give another option for continued learning while in the course of exercise, so if that is what does it for the haredi consumer, more power to them!
The Haredi answer to balancing fitness and torah learning The second minimizer of bittul torah is the type of fitness machinery employed in these health clubs. Instead of the usual treadmills, cycling machines, skiing machines, weights and whatnot, these health clubs are filled with a fairly new fitness device called Whole Body Vibrating Machines.
The user does not need to actually do anything besides for stand on the machine. The machine does all the work, allowing the person to easily continue learning. And, instead of an hour of running on a treadmill, 15 minutes on the vibrating machine will be enough to get the same results.
(source: Kikar)
Personally I am skeptical of any device that says it will get you in shape but you don't need to actually do anything. Like in all aspects of life - no pain, no gain. Yagata U'matzata taamin. If you put out the effort, and you see results, you know you have earned it. Don't believe in results when you did not put out the effort. But, maybe it works, maybe it does somethign, and iff some people are getting a bit healthier because of it, and they are confortable with it because it allows them to continue learnign at the same time, more power to them!

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