Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Trainer Reveals How the Justice Stays Super Fit at Age 85

At age 85, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (aka Notorious RBG) is in amazing shape. She works out twice a week with her trainer, Bryant Johnson, ACE, MFT, author of The RBG Workout and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council, with whom she's been training for more than 19 years. Justice Ginsburg's workouts are so tough, Stephen Colbert had a tough time keeping up. And despite her busy schedule, Justice Ginsburg always makes fitness a priority.

"The justice has faced every challenge, from fighting cancer two times to working one of the most challenging jobs there is, and she always makes time to work out and give it her all," Bryant told POPSUGAR. "Don't tell me you are too old; the justice is 85. Don't say you are too busy; the justice has plenty on her plate. My advice would be to not make excuses and just show up and do something; that's a start!"

Although their workouts are a mix of strength training and flexibility work, Bryant revealed the top five exercises he does with the justice. And since Bryant said Justice Ginsburg always shows up and gives it her very best, these moves will inspire you to give it your all. Bookmark these exercises for next time you hit the gym and you'll be working out well into your 80s.



"I think her favorite workout is the push-up," Bryant told POPSUGAR. "When we first started training, she didn't think she could do one. But she started on her knees and worked her way up to a full push-up. Seeing her eyes the first time she accomplished the full push-up was great — she felt the strength. Now she is up to 20 in a row!"

The justice starts with 20 push-ups on her toes and then moves to unstable push-ups with one arm on a ball while the other arm is on the ground to add an extra challenge for core strength and balance.

Here is how to do a basic push-up:

  • Start in a plank position with your arms and legs straight, shoulders above your wrists.
  • Take a breath in, and as you exhale, bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your chest toward the ground. Stop as soon as your shoulders are in line with your elbows. Inhale to straighten the arms. This counts as one rep.
  • If this is too difficult, do this exercise with your knees on the floor.


"While not her favorite, the justice understands that this movement is great for her core," Bryant said.

Here is how to do an elbow plank:

  • Start on the floor, resting on your forearms and knees.
  • Step your feet out one at a time, coming into a plank position.
  • Contract your abs to prevent your booty from sticking up or sinking. Your spine should be parallel to the floor, with your abs pulling toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.
Pistol Squats

Pistol Squats

Bryant and the justice do multiple reps of one-legged pistol squats.

Here's how to do a pistol squat:

  • Stand in an athletic stance, feet hip-width apart. Raise one foot slightly off the ground while you balance on the other.
  • Hold your arms straight out in front of you parallel to the floor with your palms facing downward.
  • Brace your core.
  • Hinge at the hips to begin lowering your body toward the ground. Don't allow the heel of your balance foot to leave the ground.
  • Your nonbalance leg should be extending straight out in front of you parallel to the floor while you descend downward.
  • At the bottom of the movement, your glute should be resting on your calf (on the balance foot side).
  • One you reach the bottom, pause and then begin moving back up into standing position.
  • Don't allow your raised foot to touch the floor before beginning the next repetition. Do as many reps as you can. This will not be high-volume work.
  • Switch legs and repeat.
Leg Lifts on a Bosu Ball

Leg Lifts on a Bosu Ball

She does multiple reps of leg lifts on each leg on an unbalanced Bosu ball to challenge the core.

If you don't have a Bosu ball, here's how to do double leg lifts:

  • Lay flat on the ground with your legs extended straight up toward the ceiling. Place your hands underneath the back of your head. For added stability, Austin recommends laying your arms out to your sides and allowing the palms to grip the floor, much like you would in a push-up position.
  • Pressing your lower back into the ground, slowly lower both legs down toward the floor, then slowly raise them back up. If this is too difficult, lower them as much as you can or lower one leg at a time.
  • Complete 10 to 15 reps.
Bench Squats With a Medicine Ball
POPSUGAR Photography

Bench Squats With a Medicine Ball

They always end sessions with multiple reps of bench squats with a medicine ball.

The justice squats low to sit on the bench, then she stands and tosses the medicine ball to Bryant and they repeat the movement.

"It doesn't matter how tired you are — this is a functional movement that can help maintain independence," he explained. "Think about the movements you need to use a toilet. Without being able to do this on your own, you would need the attention of a caregiver or help from others daily."