You might not write powerful opinions from the Supreme Court bench, but you can work out like you do. “The RBG Workout,” out today, is an illustrated exercise book written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s longtime personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, that details their hour-long, twice-a-week sessions at the court’s gym (where “PBS NewsHour” plays in the background). Next week, the 53-year-old Army veteran, a court clerk who moonlights as a personal trainer, will discuss the book and Ginsburg’s regimen with Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere at Sixth & I (600 I St. NW; Oct. 24, 7 p.m., $15).
What motivated you to put together this book?
Everyone talking about the planks and pushups that she does. And my thought was, “You think that’s all that she really does?” My publicists reached out to me and said this would be a great idea. And as I started to go back and think about all the exercises that I actually have her do, I surprised myself. We do a lot. If you think she’s tough on the bench, she’s tough in the gym. And I wanted to make sure people knew that.
You’ve been training her for 18 years. You guys must be close.
She’s the longest relationship I’ve been in, so you end up respecting each other in a nonverbal way. I respect her, and I respect that she has confidence in me. We laugh, we joke. Sometimes I’ll say a joke that I think is really funny and she might not laugh. And sometimes we talk about something and we don’t realize we’re talking about it. Or we can just not say anything and it’s still OK.
You’ve clearly made a huge impact on her life. Has she made the same on yours?
It helps me when I’m helping other people. The beauty about this book is that this is going to get rid of any excuses people have. I can’t be everywhere at the same time, but with this book, I can help others. She’s inspired my mother, who is 75. She thought, “Well, if [Ginsburg] can do it and she’s 84, I know I can do it.”
And she’s so inspiring. I remember this one thing the justice said: “Everybody knows the members of the seven dwarfs more than the Supreme Court justices. That’s really the way it’s supposed to be. It’s really about the law.” That’s just how she is. She quietly works and gets things done.
Are these workouts geared toward older women?
It’s a broad workout that anyone can do. When you start using your body weight, you’re using it at the intensity level that you can do. I use the same saying as I do as an equal opportunity adviser in the Army: Exercise doesn’t care about your race, religion, color, gender, national origin and/or sexual preference. Regardless of how old you are or how young you are, you gotta do it.
What is her least favorite workout?
Side planks and planks. They are the most challenging to her. We used to do crunches and other variations, but once she got really strong I just switched it up on her and she was like, “What?”
And her favorite?
The one she is most proud of, and it’s the one people are always amazed at, is the pushups. She actually does 10-12 pushups off of her knees, then she does another 10 with one hand on a heavy ball and the other hand on the ground. So it’s almost like one-arm pushups but on her knees.
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