As I’ve written about in the past, compared to only a few short years ago, fitness has taken my community by storm. At least half of it.

The numbers of women who are walking, running, attending classes and zumba-ing has increased manifold in just the past few years. With that fitness has come a raised awareness of healthy eating and raising physically fit kids.

Now, you may argue that I’m wrong here, but by and large, it seems that most of our men are still sitting around. While “sitting and learning” is perhaps the most important value among the Orthodox community, most of our men are taking the “sitting” part a little too literally.

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From our home, a 1/4 mile from our synagogue, my husband is one of the few (and often only!) men between here and the shul who doesn’t drive there during the week. And on the walking paths near our neighborhood, while I see dozens of new women working out, the only Jewish men I typically see are the ones who have been running for decades.

In a 2006 health survey of Jews living in West Rogers Park and Peterson Park, nearly one-third of the adults (31%) were overweight and an additional one-quarter were obese. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, the factors leading to obesity – poor diet and physical inactivity – are now the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

Something’s got to change. Sure, diet is a problem, but with exercise, some other life style changes could happen. My husband and I have come up with a few ideas, and I’m not sure that any of them will work. I’m writing this to begin the conversation and welcome your suggestions in the comments.

1. A quick strength training group after ma’ariv. Workouts like this 7-minute Scientific Workout from the New York Times magazine are tough enough to build muscle but quick enough to be practical. Plus, no change of clothing is required.

2. Couch to 5K training group. This step-by-step program is specifically intended to teach a person with no prior experience to run 3.1 miles. If there is one motivated leader to run a group before morning davening or after ma’ariv, imagine how many men could get moving?

3. CrossFit training. Okay, so CrossFit might be a little tough for some of our men, but something like it could work too. Whether someone in the community becomes a certified instructor or a shul hires someone from a gym, bringing a licensed instructor to the shul one evening a week 30-minute high intensity aerobic and strength training men’s class could have a huge impact. Businesses are bringing these kinds of programs into their offices, and we should be too.

It’s my 2-year blogging anniversary, and I assure you, I only know this because WordPress just notified me. For the hundreds of readers, new and old, who have followed this blog, I can’t thank you enough. Your clicks and comments are what keep me writing. Here’s to many more years of eating and living well for all of us!

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