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Keeping Frum and Fit

Chaim Backman, a Lubavitcher who works as a physical therapist, is perhaps the most unorthodox triathlete, training Orthodox Jews to pound the pavement. Full Story

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Thanks # 70
July 27, 2009 4:27 am

Many types of people read these posts, and we are responsible for the influence we have. I’m pleased someone injected some yiras shomayim into the discussion without criticizing anyone.

Training, Frum & Chassidish: How I do it with no lowering of standards
July 25, 2009 10:27 pm

If any of you are wondering whether or not exercising and keeping your standards of chassidishkeit are contradictory, I’ll share with you my experience. You do NOT need to shed any of your standards to be fit. You do NOT need to be a top notch athlete either. If this interests you, read on. But before you do, let me assure you that I have made it my business to find out the proper way to exercise from trainers and books. So what you read is based on informed decision making and from years of doing what you’ll read here.… Read more »

knee injuries and running, proper running posture, by Chaim
July 24, 2009 4:57 am

re #67, 68
How you run, your gait, what part of your foot hits the floor, where your weight is in relation to your contact point with the floor, plays a huge role in how much stress is placed on your body, as well as the efficiency and ease of running. I’ve instructed many runners in how to improve their posture and efficiency while running. Email me for more details, [email protected]

Fellow Triathlete
July 24, 2009 4:39 am

to #67. Meniscus tears come from shear forces/side to side movement and quick turns which is why a doctor will test your meniscus by turning your knee trying to provoke pain. Running is a very linear sport with little side to side movements so if you only run and not play basketball, racquetball, tennis etc. you should not get a torn meniscus. Its not me that is claiming that it doesnt cause Osteoarthritis. If you read the abstract of the research paper I referenced you will clearly see this. I have the whole paper but have no way of putting… Read more »

bad knees
July 24, 2009 3:53 am

to #62 – I agree. to #64. I just had surgery on my knee for a torn meniscus – from running. The Dr told me that all die hard runners will tell you there’s nothing wrong – but from his experience and what he’s seen, it’s not true. It’s common in runners. My PCP told me the same.

July 23, 2009 5:17 pm


July 23, 2009 4:36 pm

Chaim: See ya on your bike on route 52!

Fellow Triathlete
July 23, 2009 2:47 pm

@62 for people who actually care what research shows and not what people think is true but is in fact false:


way to go chAIM
July 23, 2009 10:58 am

i agree fully with #50. most people dont swim with tzitzus, and he was swimming, running, and biking, one after another.for anyone who’s critisizing, dont u have anything better to do with your life? it may be the summer, but that doesnt mean you dont have things to do!!!!!!
i think its very impressive what chaimm is doing!!! keep up the good work!!!

July 23, 2009 10:51 am

Just for you health nuts…studies have been done that running is actually an unhealthy exercise. It puts a lot of strain on your joints. Research has shown that eastern exercises such as yoga and walking gets the same benefits without the strain on your body. Plus its a lot easier wearing tzitzis with these exercise programs. Look at this article from a reformed tri-athelete who now does not push his body that way. So how can you be really active and not damage yourself? Do regular, low-intensity physical exercise. You get 90 or 95 percent of the benefit of running… Read more »

To #58
July 23, 2009 5:42 am

You are not entirely correct. It does become our business when it is a public figure of the community and our youth can get influenced. I am not only talking about this example, because this is not a good example, however, when others do bad (whether it in fashion or recreational, etc), whilst it is technically none of anyone else’s business, it is between them and G-d, when it is done in a frum community, it BECOMES other people’s business by default because people watch and learn. Today’s youth are extremely vulnerable and like to go with “the cool flow”.… Read more »

Fellow Triathlete
July 23, 2009 3:59 am

Some of you people are seriously crazy!! As a frum triathlete not part of TriChai I can tell you that for health reasons it is not advisable to wear any extra clothing when your doing these kind of endurance events. Your body needs to be able to cool off during the high temps which is why most triathlons start very early in the morning when its a bit cooler outside. People wear polyester clothing as little as possible so they can wick away moisture so the body can cool off. Would you prefer if he wore tzitzis and long pants… Read more »

We Are Doing The Best We All Can Do
July 23, 2009 3:49 am

Most of you “people” are quite cruel, judgemental, nit pickers and think you know it all. Why is it some cannot stand to see others accomplished, is it because they lack their own. It’s really not the point here..the guy is a great athlete (give him that)..tzitzis, sculpted beard is really none of your business, just like me wearing short sleeves is none of your business…YOUR business should be taking care of yourself and looking in your own backyard..your business should be bringing moshiach by not speaking ill of others, and not making judgements. Self improvement not only comes from… Read more »

July 23, 2009 2:26 am

I think there is a fundamental mistake here. Lets say I want to stay fit. That does not mean I HAVE to run as an athelete, thereby “forcing” the men and women to dress a certain way, that (in some cases) may be halachikly questionable. [Or to take the skiing example (which may not be as extreme) – one does not HAVE to go skiing. One CHOOSES to go skiing]. One does not HAVE to go biking in a certain setting, thereby FORCING him/her to compromise on their tznius. One CAN find ways to have the same results without resorting… Read more »

Why all the publicity
July 23, 2009 2:22 am

Not worried about the tzitzis. It may very well be that he very potur to wear them however the lady mentioned is one problem and the other problem is why all lthe publicity if these “role models” are not portrayed in their best positive yiddisheh light. I am for all he is doing but why the publicity on OUR websites???

safety is first
July 22, 2009 6:34 pm

I think Tzitzis is dangerous for this sport….I, a woman went mountainbiking in Alaska and almost killed myself, because my tznius skirt kept getting caught in the chains….the truck that followed us with emergency equipment had a pair of pants for me to change into….
I also tried skiing in a skirt and kept getting caught in the machinery at the lift…..when my daughters go skiing they go in ski suits….for their safety….

t s
July 22, 2009 2:45 pm

it’s newsworthy on any site, esp a chabad oriented one. bearded crown heights resident pushing himself go where few like him do in athleticism and physical health, and attracting others to do the same. that is his connection to other people. and that is what other poeople can comment on. what he does between him and his g-d IS between him and his g-d and is none of anyone’s g-d **** business. BUT i’ll bet my bottom dollar that almost everyone who was moved to post something negative to say, is A) lazy phycsically and/or B) hasn’t had much personal… Read more »

find the good
July 22, 2009 2:29 pm

How many of us speak loshon harah, … Everyone should work on their own challenges and stuggles and stop judging others. some people are so worried about what affect this has on kids, what kind of chinuch is showing kids how to bash people publicly- thats real ahavas yisroel and great chinuch

missing the point
July 22, 2009 2:03 pm

Interesting that you are all harping on the lack of tzitzis, which, though not “chassidish”, is not an outright breach of halacha, and ignoring the more blatant disregard of tznius mentioned in the article – as described by one of the actual participants in this group. As mentioned above in comment #33, the issue is not the working out. Everyone should have some type of physical workout to stay healthy etc. The issue is the lack of tznius portrayed in a positive light, which I believe, reflects bigger underlying problems in our circle and community. In simple words: There are… Read more »

July 22, 2009 12:11 pm

One should always ask themselves. If he/she met the Rebbe on the street, would he/she be ashamed or make the Rebbe proud.

A frum man, should ALWAYS have his tzitis out for the public to see.
And if a frum man could go out, not be showing tzitis, and be ok with it, its WRONG. where does it end.
Our Neshomo’s need to be kept healthy and fit to.

Chaim, you have an amazing opportunity, Hatzlacha

To #25
July 22, 2009 12:01 pm

I wonder if you wear your Tzitzis out. Based on your name calling I would think not. Is it not important to talk with dignity.

Hey, everyone, relax!
July 22, 2009 11:49 am

The pictures posted here are of Chaim at a triatholon: which means running, biking and swimming – one following the other. Would you jump into the Hudson River in your tzitzis??

July 22, 2009 11:17 am


vary nice
July 22, 2009 11:05 am

vary nice good job

Join the club
July 22, 2009 11:03 am

To #41, For info on joining Chaim’s running classes, try contacting him thru his website: http://www.trichai.com

to 5
July 22, 2009 10:40 am

just writing, not a tatoo

why so judgemental
from an 11 year oldwith abit more seichal

You may want to read this Sicha
July 22, 2009 10:08 am

For those of you who may be interested in the Lubavicher Rebbe’s view on some of the ideas discussed here, you can read the Sicha from Shabbos Terumah 5741 Section 41 found in this link.

tzitzis is right
July 22, 2009 9:59 am

tznius is proper especially compared to the others and goyim

may there be good news and success and what happened to adult mivtzoiyim frameworks???

Prospect Park Runner
July 22, 2009 9:51 am

In every situation a person can choose to see what he wants. I choose to see a person who is devoted and dedicated to helping people live healthier lives. (And it’s not about vanity, by the way) Its about physical, emotional and spiritual health. Oh, and by the way, you are welcome to learn chassidus with Chaim every morning at 6:30 at the shiur he attends. Please, enough with the negativity.
For full disclosure, I am a runner, yarmelka, tzitzis, listen to shiurim, or speak with my friends while I run. Very productive recreation.

July 22, 2009 9:47 am

to #33 spot on!

this is great!
July 22, 2009 9:27 am

how can one join?

July 22, 2009 8:51 am

I suppose if you do one mitzvah, keeping your body in shape, you free yourself of the other one? Is that the reasoning. Or iis the extra heat it’ll generate to burdensome? I do suspect the latter, albeit with more rationalization than rationale!

Where’s the tzitziss Chaim – the tsitziss!!

That's why people don't post names on CH websites
July 22, 2009 8:51 am

So, now you’re gonna blame Elkanah for someone elses standards?!!! If I wrote that I trained with him and I worked in a Chabad organization you would start asking me to give insight on the “taharas Hakodesh” of my coach. Then you might ask me if my Dr says Chitash or My tailor goes to Mikvah…

What’s wrong with you people. Get a life and stay out of everyone elses!!!!

July 22, 2009 8:48 am

I personally saw him train in a hat, Kapote and gartel! In the winter time I hear he wears a streimel too!

We love you Chaim!!!!!!!! Carry on with your great work!!!!!!

July 22, 2009 8:38 am

Its great to see so many frum guys taking their health seriously, enough with all that negativity, you know your just jealous and dont have the courage to come out of your box and do something about it, how many times did you see a 90 year old fat guy? oh and thats not a tattoo just a markered number like on a marathon, its amazing how people are so ready to take the negative right away. Arent we in the nine days when the bais hamikdosh was destroyed do to sinas chinam? and for those who dont want to… Read more »

July 22, 2009 8:32 am

chaim, thank you for going with my husband biking….he really enjoys it, you’re funny and entertaining as well….

everyone else— go get a life!

Ask Elkanah Shmotkin
July 22, 2009 8:30 am

His testimonials has Shmotkin from JEM, maybe he could give some insight on the tharas hakodesh of the program?

# 27
July 22, 2009 7:57 am

Look again: It is clear in the article. Nebach.

The problem
July 22, 2009 7:54 am

Despite the cutting comments of many posters, trying to imply that anyone here has a problem with excersize – that is not the point at all. There are many fine chassidishe yidden – men and woman – that excersize. They walk, run treadmills etc. and otherwise stay healthy. What bothers many posters, is the perception of a lowering of standards of tznius among some of this group, as clear in the article “Some of the women who train with him run in traditional clothing, while others don the shorts and T-shirts more typical of competitive runners”. There is no reason… Read more »

Oy vay !!!
July 22, 2009 7:09 am

yesterday there was an article about Israeli governemtn telling some charedi citizens to get off their****** and get a job. (also known as “work”)

Now we have an article telling us to get excersize? Oh my. These articles are going to kill all of us.

Chaim is the man.
July 22, 2009 6:57 am

Go Chaim go!. Apparently many overweight people are jealous!!!

proud to be an athletic jew
July 22, 2009 6:50 am

most people dont really put judaism and athleticism together but chaim shows that they work together just fine! kol hakavod..the Jewish world would be a better place if jews would get off their tushes and start moving…

What do U say about this ?
July 22, 2009 6:47 am

There is also a condition known to New York doctors as “yeshiva bochur spine” in which the spine bends forward toward the upper part of the body, in a curve, which can cause severe problems later in life. This results from the lack of exercise and many hours of sitting during the younger years.

I love chaim.
July 22, 2009 6:36 am

Chaim is a wonderful person & a great athleet. With everyones “positive” encouragement I am sure he will start to wear his tzitzis out.

July 22, 2009 6:34 am

I am trying to understand that as well. Could someone explain!!

what tattoo???
July 22, 2009 6:04 am

IDIOT!!! he is wearing a number to identify himself not a tattoo. What about all the kids who sit with pens and write all over their hands? Does your 3 year old tattoo himself? Get a life!!

July 22, 2009 6:02 am

I trained with Chaim, Chaim is a wonderful guy! amazing how the comments on these blogs can make any positive story into a negative one. Chaim you keep running and you keep inspiring guys to run. you are an inspiration to me and all the guys you trrained! thanks to Chaim i can run 3 to 6 miles on any given day! see you in the park!!

You shall see them
July 22, 2009 5:34 am

The Torah clearly says “and you shall see them(the Tztzis)”so even if Chaim is wearing them he sholud still follow the Tora’s directive and expose them .Also what’s this business of training with other women.Is that also a Kiduush Hashem?
Seems like some people are starting to lose their feelings towards Halacha and Eherlichkeit . No wonder our children are going off the Derech ,with such examples.

the rebbe would have been very proud....
July 22, 2009 5:21 am
July 22, 2009 5:17 am

My father is a head shliach who walks (or swims weather permitting) 5 days a week, long beard, tzitzis and listening to an ipod of Rebbe sichos. It is possible very possible! Yes it can be hot and uncomfortable but we need to be an example and Mr Backman is a healthy example but he can be a positive chassidishe example with tzitzis flying imagine unafilliated Yidden seeing that now that is INSPIRING! It’s never to late keep up the good work

What does this mean?
July 22, 2009 5:08 am

Can someone please explain what it means when it says in the article regarding a certain woman, that she used to bike in long skirts and lond sleeved shirts but then decided it was no longer necessary?

Wearing shorts, etc.
July 22, 2009 4:53 am

I am a Lubavitcher in a large city and I went from not being able to walk around the block to riding LONG distances on a bike. At first I would wear white shirts and long pants while riding in 90 degree weather and came to realize that it was impossible. Now I wear proper biking clothes. While riding down the main Jewish street, I am sure there are those, like some of the writers here, who look at me and think, “A Shanda! A frum Jew dressed like that!” However, I am convinced there a not-yet frum Yidden who… Read more »

Why are Lubavitchers so obsessed with vanity?
July 22, 2009 4:32 am

Why is it that every other story on this site turns into a debate over the appearance of the central character.
Is it possible that maybe the most puritan among us are obsessed with external appearance as a way to compensate for a lack of a actual integrity?
Hmm… I wonder.

Halacha Comes First
July 22, 2009 4:27 am

Firstly, I am not one of these people who comment much on forums, and certainly keep my comments positive. However, I really feel strongly this time about the Tzitzis. If he is frum and running a frum triathelon group, then tzitzis should be (and proudly) portrayed. If he is a role model for our youth, this is not something I want my son thinking is OK. I fully agree with the whole concept, the shulchan aruch says your body is on loan to you and you MUST take care of it. But this doesn’t mean that you should not wear… Read more »

to 15
July 22, 2009 4:11 am

good points and clear train of thought

why everyone so defensive about judgments
July 22, 2009 3:49 am

why can’t people just take the fact that what they wear says something about them to others. if he is wearing tzitzis but not showing them and it looks like he isn’t wearing them then he projects a certain image. especially with his chest hair showing etc. i understand the maalos of what he’s doing but personally, i think, this can be done in a more frum= chassiddish way.

July 22, 2009 3:43 am

A) You can’t say forsure he’s not wearing Tzitzis B) If the Definition of “Frum” is somone who keeps the 613 commandments, you can be frum and not wear tzitzis (especially if you wear them when you can) since Tzitzis is a conditional Mitzvah (only an obligation if you wear a 4 cornered garment). C) Maybe he feels (and had guidance) that runing for him is like swimming and most ppl I know don’t wear Tzitzis when they swim. D) Lastly, for people who like being judgemental…it’s funny that you’d respect someone a lot less frum if they were in… Read more »

Thank you Chaim!
July 22, 2009 3:10 am

Chaim is doing a service to people in CH. As someone who has taken up running regularly I credit Chaim for making it a regular habit of mine and many others in CH. Many of us have large families, our kids need parents that can care for them, living healthy and exercising will help people physically and mentally as well.

Go Chaim!
July 22, 2009 3:03 am

You can make all the comments you like about tzitzis no tzitzis but we all see the pictures of all these “chasidim” with their potbellies and obese bodies. We have a responsibilty according to shulchan aruch to take care of our bodies as well as our neshamas. So go Chaim and be a great role model for alot people who need it!

what a chutzpa
July 22, 2009 2:47 am

what do you mean not to criticize. its an in your face not wearing tzizis and we should be quiet???

is that what you want YOUR kids to learn

so now we are putting yiddishkeit and chassidishkeit secondary after taking care of ourselves and having a GOOD time???

by the way nice beard also……sculptered beard.

do we want to completely give all our yiddishkeit away, to be like all the moderns O’s??

July 22, 2009 2:36 am

yay!!!! Finally teaching not only to take care of your NESHAMA but your GUF as well. Just like Hashem commanded us too.

old camper gan isreal ny
July 22, 2009 2:20 am

chaim backman great guy what a doll

If you drop
July 22, 2009 1:55 am

Your tzitzis at least dont post the pics not what chabad is about lowering yourself down and dropping a mitzvah in order to gain a mitzvah…

to 2 from 1
July 22, 2009 1:53 am

Well you can see his chest hair and cant see any strings coming out of his track-suite so i made the assumption that he wasnt wearing any.

why dont you give your fellow jew
July 22, 2009 1:46 am

benefit of the doubt
of course he asked a rov
what are you even thinking?

July 22, 2009 1:01 am

this is really going a little too far people. don’t you see this is saddddddddd??????!!!!!!!!!

July 22, 2009 12:43 am


TO: #1
July 22, 2009 12:10 am

I cant stand it when people are so judgemental towards others. you should look inwards and judge yourself before criticizing others. This is so typical of the responses that people write on this site. Keep up the great work Chaim!!

to 1
July 21, 2009 11:41 pm

how do you know, why do comments on col always have to be critisizing.

personally, i think, it’s amaizing, and many people shouls follow him!!

What a legend
July 21, 2009 10:40 pm

As a frum lubavitvh triathlete I can say this is a great kiddush Hashem. Well done

to #1 you can’t say for sure he isn’t wearing tzitizis!!!

July 21, 2009 9:33 pm

no tzitzits?