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The NYT 6-minute workout: commenters’ critiques and robust responses

Just when you thought that workouts couldn’t get any shorter, the New York Times has shaved another minute off and created the 6-minute workout. Tara Parker Pope offers us a cheery encouraging introduction:

I know that six minutes of exercise doesn’t seem like much. You might wonder: Is it even worth my time? The answer is yes! We created this workout with Chris Jordan, Director of Exercise Physiology at Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and creator of the widely-known 7 Minute Workout. His research shows that even very small amounts of exercise, when carried out with intensity, can reap big fitness rewards. By committing to a super short workout today, you are taking the first small step to building a fitness routine. Remember, new habits start with small changes, not big moves. Commit to just six minutes of exercise three times a week and you are on your way to a lifelong fitness habit.

Pope’s message seems super-clear: 6 minutes is not a huge commitment, the exercises are tough but doable (for some people– more on this later), and sticking to them for a while may well open up in us the possibility of incorporating more exercise into our daily lives. This is a total win.

At least you would think so. Not all the NYT commenters agree.

But before I get to those, here’s what the 6-minute workout is. There are actually three different 6-minute workouts, each to be done once a week (in theory).

Workout 1 is here. It consists of:

  • Jumping jacks
  • standing lunges
  • kneeling push-ups
  • forearm plank

You’ll repeat them twice, giving you a total body workout. Each exercise is 30 seconds long. Do them at your own pace. You’ll rest for 15 seconds after each exercise.

Workout 2 is here. It consists of:

  • Stand and box (standing– punch forward with left and right arms)
  • side squats (moving from standing, left and right to a squat)
  • kneeling push-ups
  • bird dog (on hands and knees, lifting opposite arms and knees front and back, respectively– I hope that makes sense)

Workout 3 is here. It consists of:

  • march in place
  • squats (with arms outstretched front)
  • push-ups with twist (after pushing up, lift one arm to ceiling, repeat other side)
  • bicycle crunches (arms by side, palms down, you know the rest– ouch)

There are no real surprises here. I happen to love bird dog– we do this in yoga– and I like holding the pose for a while. Standing lunges are hard for me, so I don’t dip so far. And there’s no way to sugar-coat bicycle crunches. They put the work in workout.

So you would think the comments would be sparse and fairly bland, since this is not a revolutionary exercise suggestion.

But no. They had a whole host of complaints, including:

  • didn’t like the vocal tone of the narrator
  • preferred pulling-movements to pushing movements (so pushups back, row good)
  • pointing out that reading about the workout is much easier than actually doing it
  • didn’t fit their very specific physical needs and exercise preferences (followed by a detailed description of the aforementioned)
  • all they care about is filling in the green ring in their Apple watch; would this do that?
  • this is a total wuss workout– instead people should do e.g. 40 plank pushups, 80 static lunges (40 each leg) with extra weight, 50 squats with extra weight, and a 2:00 min. straight plank (there were many such suggestions)
  • DON’T do this if you: have bad knees, are over 50, just ate, didn’t eat, have a last name that begins with M, and so on
  • Given that many workout wardrobe changes (12 in total), this would likely take more than 6 minutes (this one I concede has humor, if not merit)
  • People who don’t exercise more than this are in part responsible for global warming
  • Where’s the “mature” version of this (hmmm… do they mean naked version? I know, they mean older people, but really, “mature”?)
  • What can I sub for… fill in the blank (As former wait staff, I know that Americans do love their substitutions!)

And then someone just posted a picture of Theodore Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt, former president of the US.

Okay, that’s actually their profile picture, but I thought it was jarring and funny.

Of course, a lot of commenters thanked Tara Parker Pope for posting, and sung the praises of the 6-minute workout.

My favorite of these compliments was this one:

Thank God. I tried the 7-minute workout last year, but really, who has time for THAT?

And my favorite responder to the “this workout is nothing and makes people too complacent and contributes to national ill health” complainer:

Nothing’s stopping you from making them more strenuous– maybe incorporate a pogo stick? While dodging a robotic vacuum that moves faster and faster? With a cat on your head?

Yes, dear responder. But I do think exercising with a cat on my head will take more than 6 minutes. We should ask this woman.

Woman attempting to exercise with three cats swarming around her.

Readers, what do you think about these 6 or 7-minute workouts? Have you tried them? Did they do anything for you? I’d love to hear your stories.

5 thoughts on “The NYT 6-minute workout: commenters’ critiques and robust responses

  1. One complaint of my own to add here: I would’ve really liked it if one of the models was larger-sized. I can see they thought they sort of tried, using two models who aren’t super-thin, but an actual fat model would’ve been great and encouraging for lots of people who don’t see themselves in the workout video media world.

  2. I’ve never tried it but I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a pogo stick in the garden shed and I’ve got two cats so maybe I’ll give the six-minute one a whirl.

  3. I do them occasionally when I am travelling for work. I like them because I don’t have to decide what to do. I do find though that it’s never 6 minutes. No matter what they say, I’m lucky to be done in a half hour.

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