My Best Resources for Home Workouts

When my gym closed last March, I wondered how I’d continue to train and stay healthy. Even with gyms reopened now, lines are often long and many people are still not comfortable going. So how can we stay in shape at home, preferably with little or no equipment? These are the best resources I’ve found:

  • Athlean-X. Terrific YouTube channel created by Jeff Cavaliere, a physical therapist and trainer to professional athletes. It’s one of the marvels of today that you can have the same trainer as NFL players and other elite athletes, all for nothing and without leaving your house.

    His Athlean Xero program in particular has countless exercises that use no equipment whatsoever. But just because they’re bodyweight exercises doesn’t make them easy! I particularly like the sidelying bicep curl and the Bulgarian split squat.
  • Body by Science. The author is a doctor with deep knowledge of how strength training works. I used his principles even while I was still going to the gym, but I find them just as applicable now that I’m doing mostly bodyweight training.

    This program has you move slowly to maximize time under load and lift to failure so that the muscles will be overloaded and grow. Moving slowly can also make a small weight feel like a big one if your equipment is limited. The program also emphasizes the importance of training each muscle group only once a week, since the muscles take significant time to repair and grow. A burn or cut doesn’t heal in a couple of days, and neither do the microscopic tears in the muscle caused by strength training.

These resources have helped me gain a significant amount of mass and strength in the last 10 months. In fact, I’m progressing at a faster rate than I did with a gym membership. I also find that moving slowly and using primarily bodyweight means I don’t injure myself, which was a problem in the past.

No more excuses! Let’s get to it!

The Painting I Love the Most

I’ve always found Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon particularly beautiful. When you walk into the room where it lives in the Museum of Modern Art, it’s impossible not to be drawn to it. The bright, rose color, the striking jagged shapes, and the eyes of the women staring back at you always hold me rapt.

I particularly liked to go to MoMA during the wonderful Free Fridays, but last March the pandemic shut MoMA along with everything else. I remember being home at night, looking at the darkness outside, and thinking that inside that gallery was dark now too.

For perhaps the first time since it was made in 1907, no one was looking at my favorite painting. Perhaps a caretaker came by from time to time to check on it, and cleaning crews to sweep up, but aside from that it was alone. I missed it like a friend. And I wondered if it was lonely.

In the fall, I finally got the opportunity to see my old friend again. I relished looking at the warm colors and the beautiful figures. I was happy to be together with it again, happy to reclaim something of the life I’d had. And maybe the painting was happy too, to be admired once more.

My point: what we’ve lost, we will regain. Even more. Let’s be patient and look forward to that day. Everything we’ve loved before, we’ll appreciate more than ever.

The Incredible New Blender I’m Loving

With cold weather and ample time at home, I’m getting a lot of use out of a wonderful Christmas gift I received: an Instant Ace Plus blender. It’s so powerful I jumped away in fear the first time I turned it on! Since then, I’ve made friends with it, and it’s rewarded me with silky soups and delicious smoothies.

I particularly like putting some broth and vegetables into it, pressing a button, and having a delicious hot soup in a few minutes. I can take a shower while it’s running and eat whenever, since it keeps the soup warm for two hours. I also use it to make a smoothie every morning with milk, frozen fruit and greens which ensures I get protein, vitamins and fiber right when I wake up.

I did a lot of research on blenders from Vitamix, BlendTec, and others, and this one seems like the best combination of features and cost. For some reason, the Instant Pot slow cooker is enormously popular but this blender seems all but forgotten. Give it a shot!

How Israel Is Vaccinating More People Than Anywhere Else On Earth

Israel has vaccinated over a million people in a matter of weeks, moving faster than any other country in the world. About 12% of its population have now received a dose, compared to under 1% in the United States. 70% of the elderly should be vaccinated by the end of this week.

It would be easy to attribute Israel’s speed to its small size and population density. But New Jersey, where I live, has vaccinated only 72,000 people, a rate no better than the national average. So how do you explain Israel’s success?

Israel’s health system is highly centralized and is contacting people who are eligible to get them in for their vaccine. We are expecting those who are eligible to find a vaccination site themselves, which means navigating a fragmented system that sometimes announces available vaccines on Facebook or websites that repeatedly crash.

We have people’s age and residence information available through the Social Security Administration and the IRS. Why are we not using that data to encourage the elderly to get their doses? And why are we not building a central portal for Americans to find out when and where they can be vaccinated?

Israel’s eligibility criteria are broader than in the US, with anyone over age 60 eligible. In the US, we have tight eligibility criteria and few people being vaccinated. This benefits no one as doses sit unused.

Israel also avoids wasting doses at the end of the day by giving doses at risk of spoilage to anyone who wants them.

With a more centralized system, broader eligibility notifications to those eligible, and policies to avoid waste, we could protect our fellow Americans at a much faster rate. Now that we have a solution, it’s a crime to let it sit unused.