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The Instructor’s Exacting Commands

The Instructor’s Exacting Commands


It was a Friday afternoon. There must have been about forty or more of us gathered in the large room, floor-to-ceiling mirrors covering the surrounding walls. Despite the weariness and lagging energy that comes after a long and full week, we were moving energetically, following the exacting—and strenuous—commands of the auburn haired woman facing us in the front of the room.

"Higher," Melissa shouted. As she walked through the room to examine—and reprove—each of us, we sheepishly struggled to please her.

"Faster," went her next charge as we strained ourselves further. "C'mon, you can do better than that!" she continuously admonished. "Further…deeper…stronger!"

"Now hold your positions," our taskmaster demanded. I noticed the painful grimace on the facial expressions of many of the others, myself included. But despite her gruelling insistence of moving us at a dizzying pace and forming all types of twisted and convoluted shapes, none of us dared to disobey her. The more she pressed us on, the greater we labored to meet her onerous directives.

Despite her gruelling insistence of moving us at a dizzying pace, none of us dared to disobey her.

Were we in some kind of enforced boot camp, being punished for some heinous crime?

No, we were a group of middle class, suburban women who were here entirely on our own volition. In fact, after an hour of this arduous treatment, most of us even approached Melissa before leaving to thank her. Moreover, we had even paid a membership due for the privilege of being in this room and follow her directives.

We, like scores of men and women around the world, were in an exercise class offered by our fitness center. Precisely due to her taxing demands, Melissa was one of the favourite and most sought-after instructors.


Not at all.

Not when you consider that we understood that the discipline that she demanded of us was entirely for our own benefits—to provide us with the strength and energy of a healthy physique. We realized her expertise and therefore didn't doubt each of her demands or distrust the particular techniques she employed. And we understood too, that this was something valuable enough to clear some time even on a busy Friday afternoon.

Perhaps, something to consider on any of the many occasions when we may feel lethargic about performing some of the spiritual pulls and pushes of our day—exercises designed especially for our benefit, to strengthen our spiritual well-being.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Anonymous May 15, 2008

Contrary to popular belief most exercise teachers should take physical tests after 35 years of age. Their bodies could wear out more easily. It seems that everything should be done to its proper measure so that we may live long and have productive lives.
Spiritually speaking, we should understand our needs ,and although we should remain active .We should also lead a balanced life. Dirah Betachtonim Reply

Jordan May 12, 2008

Re: Once a week is nice How about the fitness teacher who does these exercises along with her class all day long? After years of practice, her muscles no longer rebel or ache.

Practice, practice, practice... Eventually, a day WITHOUT strained muscles will seem unnatural, boring and meaningless :) Reply

Struggling Great Neck, NY May 12, 2008

Once a week is nice... But what if the entire day, every day, was one long grueling exercise session? Would you still enjoy? Reply

M.H. North Miami Beach, Florida May 11, 2008

I knew it was an exercise class... I'd like to print out this article and give it to my jazzercise teacher... a wonderful, drill seargent-like instructor (albeit with a big smile) and a not yet observant Jewish woman. There are several Chabad women in the class, and the instructor has already enjoyed Shalach Monos and Shmurah matzoh. She'll definitely enjoy your analogy...oh, and it's also an inspiration for me,too (to get to class more often AND to get working on the spiritual muscles, too!) Reply

Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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