Book Love

Books Are the Only Exercise Equipment You Need

Here’s my problem: I love to read and I hate to exercise. Think these two activities are completely unrelated, and that it’s weird that I even grouped them together? I would have thought so too.

But one day it hit me—maybe reading could be the spoonful of sugar that helps the blood pressure go down! With enough distraction, my aching feet would be just a footnote.

One of the perks of working for a publisher is the proximity to experts in many fields. So I asked Brett Klika, architect of the 7-minute workout and author of 7 Minutes to Fit, to help me out. What exercises could I do, using only books, that would help me feel the burn while the pages turned?

Brett really came through. He handcrafted these punny activities for me to try, and I didn’t even need to take my nose out of a book—except to enjoy the sweet smell of success.

“Wall” Whitman Squats


  1. Begin standing with the back against the wall.
  2. Walk the feet about 24 inches away from the wall.
  3. With open book in hand, “slide” down the wall until the knees are at or below 90 degrees.
  4. Thighs should be parallel to the floor, heels must be in contact with the floor, knees must be behind toes.
  5. Keeping the back against the wall, read 1 page from a favorite book, hands or arms never coming in contact with the legs, then return to the start position.
  6. Read a page while standing, then repeat the squat.
  7. To modify, begin by reading 1/2 page, 1 paragraph standing, then 1/2 page.

The Circle of Speedy Feet

Speedy Feet

  1. Place closed book on the floor.
  2. Beginning behind the book, begin to move the feet clockwise around the book with as many quick, small steps as possible.
  3. Once one complete revelation has been done, repeat counter-clockwise.
  4. Continue for 30 seconds.

Best Seller Booty Blaster


  1. Begin in all fours position.
  2. Place book at the “crook” at the back of the right knee.
  3. Squeeze book between the calf and hamstring by lifting the foot off the ground, bringing the heel closer to the butt.
  4. Keeping weight equally distributed over palms and knees, lift the right knee off the ground, keeping it bent to hold the book in place, and move backwards and upwards.
  5. The movement will result in the bottom of the right foot moving towards the ceiling while the knees stays bent, holding the book in place through the entire motion.
  6. Move backward and upward as far as possible without the lower back arcing.
  7. Repeat for 30 seconds in a controlled motion.
  8. Repeat on other leg.

Eat, Pray, Push-Ups


  1. Place a book upright on the floor, with pages ajar so it stays standing.
  2. Go into an “all fours” position, aligning the chest immediately over the top of the book.
  3. Lift knees off the ground, assuming a “push-up” position (or to modify, keep knees on the ground, but lift feet off the ground.
  4. Descend into the push-up position until the chest makes contact with the top of the book, then return to the start position.
  5. Repeat for 30 seconds.
  6. To make the movement more challenging, lie the book on it side, ajar so it stays open.
  7. For a final challenge, lie the book on the floor without opening.

Now why did I have to start working out at the same time as I started reading Ulysses?

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You might also be interested in the following blog post: No, Really. I Only Have 7 Minutes to Get Fit

Photos by Irene Kim Shepherd, GIFs by Jenna Homen

Kathryn Jaller

Kathryn Jaller

Previous Associate Director of online strategy at Chronicle Books and art/craft/cat lady. You can follow her at @kholler.
Kathryn Jaller

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