In the week since Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at age 87 from complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, tributes from several politicians and celebrities have poured in. But Ginsburg just received an extra special salute, courtesy of her longtime trainer Bryant Johnson.
Ginsburg is the first woman and first Jewish citizen to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. Johnson visited his former client on Friday, opting to perform three push-ups in front of her casket in tribute. Ginsburg and Johnson’s 20-year history together is well-documented. Twice a week, she would trade her tried and true lace collar for workout attire, maintaining their standing appointment well into Ginsburg’s ’80s. Johnson, a Sergeant First Class in the Army Reserves and a U.S. District Court Clerk, penned a 2017 book detailing Ginsburg’s fitness regime, The RBG Workout… How She Stays Strong, and How You Can Too!.
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Ginsburg reflected on her diligent fitness routine during a 2014 ELLE interview. “I have a trainer who tells me what to do,” she said of her regimen, which included weight lifting, stretching, using the elliptical, and, of course, doing push-ups. As for what got her into the gym, Ginsburg explained, “1999, I had colorectal cancer. I had months and months of chemotherapy and radiation, and when I got finished with all that I was not in the best shape. My husband said, you got to get yourself a personal trainer, and that’s when it began.”
USA Today reported in 2017 that Ginsburg and Johnson never missed a workout, other than the 2004—07 stretch where Johnson was deployed to Kuwait, or when Ginsburg was recovering from pancreatic cancer in 2009 and a heart stent implant in 2014. Ginsburg’s commitment to fitness, coupled with her legendary dissents, helped cultivate her Notorious RBG image. In recent years, Stevenson and Ginsburg appeared together on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and in the Oscar-nominated documentary RBG.
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