Category Archives: Judy Gruen

February 7 – Shaken to My Foundations During A Set of Wall Push-Ups

by Judy Gruen

The other day at the gym, the teacher sent us to the wall for a set of standing push-ups.

“Place your hands on the wall at breast level,” she instructed.

I placed my hands on the wall at breast level. I saw that my hands were headed for the Gulf of Mexico.

“How did this happen?” I asked, sorrow catching in my throat.

“You know what they say,” said my neighbor. “After 40, it’ all maintenance.”

I gritted my teeth and performed three grueling sets of push-ups, determined to show that my strength and agility were not sliding nearly as fast as some of the rest of me. I did not cheat, exactly. I leveled the playing field, so to speak, by sliding my hands north on the wall closer to California, where the rest of my body lives. This made the push-ups much easier to complete. Besides, the true pain of the exercise was realizing that I was desperately overdue for some deferred maintenance.

Back home, I fished out a catalog of women’s sports clothing that sold bras for every possible shape and fitness need. Sure enough, I found a model designed by a researcher in New Zealand who had a doctorate in Newtonian physics. The bra was called “Stand and Deliver”. I paid extra to have it shipped to me overnight.

When I looked at myself in the mirror wearing my new suspension rigging, I was amazed at what a little retrofitting could do for me. Had I only known how much I would benefit from a close study of Newtonian physics and its application to my ability to perform wall push-ups, I would have paid more attention in high school science.

My new bra was not the sexiest-looking underwire garment to have ever left the shores of Macau. It had an uncanny resemblance to building scaffolding, but at least I was not a “problem fit”who would require the services of one of the nation’s leading bra-sizing consultants. (This was not the case for my friend Gerry, who once admitted to me after a few glasses of wine that she had been measured for a new bra with a carpenter’s level.)

Stage 1 of my deferred maintenance program had striking results.

“Something’s different about you, I can tell,” my neighbor said while I was in my new cups. “Wait, don’t tell me: did you have Botox?”

While it is still a painful experience to walk past Victoria’s Secret, that bastion of female objectification and purveyor of false expectations, at least now I do so holding my head (and my mammaries) a little higher. Victoria’s starving models may look better in a push-up bra than I do, but those scrawny arms of theirs will be their undoing in a contest with me for wall push-ups.

(This post is adapted from a piece originally published in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.)

Judy Gruen’s newest book is “The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love with Faith,” (September 2017, She Writes Press). She is the author of four previous books and has written for the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and many other media outlets. Find her online at