Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Won’t Give Up Working Out With Trainer Despite Coronavirus Fears

Barbie Latza Nadeau
Lindsay DeDario/Reuters

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer Bryant Johnson says the judge is not giving up her twice-weekly workout sessions with him despite checking all the boxes when it comes to who is most at risk for COVID-19 complications.

The 87-year-old justice is a four-time cancer survivor, including undergoing radiation treatment last year for pancreatic cancer, which makes her particularly vulnerable should she contract the virus. However, she is still meeting Johnson twice a week at the Supreme Court’s private gym to do her planks, push-ups, and weight training. Despite the Supreme Court itself being closed and gyms being shut down around the U.S., Johnson said his star client insists on keeping her schedule. “Everybody’s been shut down,” Johnson told Law 360. “The only reason why I didn’t shut the justice down is because, hey, she ain’t having it.”

Johnson says he is taking extra precautions to sterilize the gym equipment and the two practice social distancing during sessions. He said he has given up all other appointments to try to limit his chances of contracting and passing the coronavirus on to the justice.

“She has that grandfather status to me and if she wants to train, that’s the least that I can do,” Johnson said. “Her choice is, she doesn’t make excuses not to do it.”

When pressed about whether it was really wise to cater to Ginsberg despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that advise elderly people and anyone with underlying health issues to self-isolate, he said he had no choice. “Well it’s like this: Before I go in, I wipe down every piece of equipment that I think she is going to touch and come in contact with,” he said. “Then I go back in and wash my hands.”

He says he also sets up the sessions and lets her workout on her own without touching her. “All I have to do is set it up and she just automatically knows exactly what I want to do,” he said. “It doesn’t require me to grab her, hold her, get up close and personal.”

Johnson, who wrote the book The RBG Workout, said that despite the obvious risks, he doesn’t see any reason the justice should stop.

“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t feel better after a workout is completed and that includes the justice,” he said. “No matter what, we try to get it in twice a week.”


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