I was at a stage in my life where I had to start taking my health seriously. It was October 2013, just after the High Holidays and Sukkot, and my wife Chanie made it clear that we were either getting a treadmill or I was joining a gym.

Having never been a fan of walking or running, I opted for the gym. But, of course, I kept postponing that too. Until, one day, I noticed a sign announcing that a new gym had just opened. So, against my better judgement, I stopped in to have a look.

Against my better judgement, I entered the gym

Fast forward a year and a half later; I am now 30 pounds lighter and six pant sizes smaller. Oh, and I can lift about 165 pounds over my head from the ground. I am in the best shape I’ve been in my entire adult life, and I have never felt so good and healthy.

Many people are intimidated by heavy lifting and extreme movements, but the truth is that nobody is meant to walk in and suddenly begin training like a pro. Aside from it being dangerous, there is hardly a purpose to it. The objective is to slowly work toward doing things better and at greater intensity.

It is always recommended to scale the workout to fit your current abilities, and to take it just a bit further each time. Never stay in the same place, but also don’t bite off more than you can chew. Work on conquering your weaknesses, and before long you will be getting stronger, leaner and more flexible.

Looking back, I am proof that taking it one step at a time, with just a bit more effort, pays off remarkably.

But I am not here (just) to tell you about the benefits of working out. This concept can be applied to many other areas in life, including—and most importantly—Torah observance.

As with physical fitness, you don’t need to be a professional to partake in what Judaism offers. For someone not raised in an observant home, leading a religious life can be daunting. But that doesn’t mean you are counted out, G‑d forbid. Instead, you can make small improvements in your Jewish behavior on a regular basis—which is how we all grow.

You aren’t ready to attend services regularly? No problem; join a Torah class once in a while. Not prepared to keep kosher all time? Start by checking labels and becoming aware of the many kosher options available today. Keeping Shabbat too big of a step? Consider turning your phone off for an hour, lighting candles and having a family Shabbat dinner every Friday evening.

Start off small; with time you'll get the hang of it

Start off small; you’ll see that, with time, you’ll get the hang of it and get better at it. And, of course, when you see results—and you will—you’ll be motivated to keep it up.

Don’t think of it as what you cannot do, but how you can do just a bit better than yesterday. Don’t leave Judaism to the rabbis. It belongs to each and every individual Jew equally.