High court brings gavel down on ex­er­cise class

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

A35-year-old ex­er­cise tra­di­tion has ad­journed for the last time at the U.S. Supreme Court. The early morn­ing work­out class was ini­ti­ated by Jus­tice San­dra Day O’Con­nor, who re­tired a decade ago.

O’Con­nor had re­mained en­thu­si­as­tic about the early morn­ing ex­er­cise class she started at the high­est court in the land—on the bas­ket­ball court that sits one floor above the court­room where she heard ar­gu­ments for nearly a quar­ter­century.

While the first fe­male jus­tice never per­suaded her fel­low jus­tices to join her reg­u­larly, her class be­came a court fix­ture and a hit with a de­voted group of women who live in the court’s Capi­tol Hill neigh­bor­hood.

But now the court has ruled that the women must take their work­outs else­where.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the time had come for the class to re­lo­cate,” Supreme Court spokes­woman Kath­leen Ar­berg wrote in an email to the As­so­ci­ated Press. “Few em­ploy­ees at­tended the class and for some time now, the Jus­tice has not been a par­tic­i­pant and can­not over­see the group’s ac­cess to the gym.”

Ac­cord­ing to a 1981 New York Times ar­ti­cle, O’Con­nor on her third day at the court sent a no­tice to all fe­male Supreme Court em­ploy­ees that she was start­ing an ex­er­cise class. The class would meet five times a week be­gin­ning at 8 a.m. and be led by a YWCA in­struc­tor for $35 a month. The let­ter said that the class would in­clude “con­di­tion­ing in slim­nas­tics with some aer­o­bic dance.”

The class might still have been based at the court if O’Con­nor had been able to per­suade an­other jus­tice to at­tend. But she re­peat­edly struck out.

That doesn’t mean the other jus­tices don’t have their own fit­ness reg­i­mens. For ex­am­ple, the old­est jus­tice, who re­cently turned 84, has a work­out pro­gram so rig­or­ous it can per­haps be summed up by the head­line of a story by a Politico re­porter who tried it out: “I did Ruth Bader Gins­burg’s work­out. It nearly broke me.”

O’Con­nor launched the classes in 1981.

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