The Trader Joe’s Workout

Slumped over a computer all day for work? Dying to get a workout in but also need to get groceries before the weather turns heinous? Don’t fret. The Trader Joe’s Workout is the answer.

There are a couple of Trader Joe’s stores in New York City, and they’re guaranteed to always be a cluster of obstacle-course-like fun, so you’ll get plenty of cardio and strength training in while also accomplishing some errands. Doesn’t this feel good already?


Start off with some cardio to get your body warm. Be sure to pick the Trader Joe’s furthest from your current location and walk there. Or, since you’ve got your arms free now, briskly walk there. Or jog. Or full-on sprint down the street. Make sure it’s a good 20 or so blocks, and pick crowded ones so you’re constantly on your toes trying to maneuver through tourists, old folks, and jerks who can’t (and shouldn’t) text and walk.


Grab a basket. It’s tempting to go for the cart, but don’t do it. You’ll fatigue your arm muscles (no pain, no gain, right?) much faster using this technique. So, like I said, grab a basket as soon as you get through the doors and begin loading it with as much of whatever it is you buy at Trader Joe’s as possible. A+ if you’re going for canned food and jugs of liquid. Alternate which hand/arm you’ve got the basket in, and hammer curl the shit out of it. Don’t stop when your basket’s full. Do an extra lap around the place (hammer curling that basket, remember!) to give your biceps that extra love. Finally, find whatever lucky TJ’s staff member’s got the “end of the line” sign (it should be a full wind around the entire store, at least) and jump in line and set your basket down.

What, you thought ’cause you’re in line with your basket on the floor, the workout’s over? Nah …


One thing about New York City Trader Joe’s stores is that they’re fast-moving and damn efficient. You’re never going to be still for more than a few seconds while you’re standing in line (and if you are, you better be hammer curling, dammit), so now’s where you work your legs. Push your heavy (and if it’s light, you better get more cans!) basket ahead with your feet (alternating legs to work both sides!) each time the line moves up, and feel the burn in your quads!


To be honest, I’m not sure if this is doing damage or good at this point, and which muscles are positively or negatively affected, but you’ll feel it in all these areas. Once Trader Joe’s staff ring you up and bag your goods, hopefully you’ll end up with two bags weighing roughly the same amount. Take one in each hand, and lift and squeeze those shoulders back! Walk out of the store with them and resist the urge to hail a cab. Hopefully, the entrance to your subway train is at least several blocks away because this is all part of the burn, baby. Keep your posture from sulking into its Mr. Burns tendency and walk tall with those brown bags (or, if you came prepared, reusable bags). Keep squeezing those shoulders back and suck in that belly!

When you make it onto your train, it might be ridiculously crowded and hard to find a place to grab onto, in which case you can squeeze in some more core and leg work – probably all your muscles, especially if you’re riding the L underwater (you know how rockin’ and rollin’ it can get!). So, hold your bags, and don’t hold onto the poles, even though there are signs everywhere that say to do so. Widen your stance and brace yourself, and see if you can balance in the moving train. Just pretend you’re surfing or skateboarding or doing yoga or something else that requires balance.


When you’re finally to your stop, off your train, and at your front door, it’s time to work your backside, babe. Inevitably, you have plenty of stairs in your building ’cause you live in the City. I don’t care if you live on the first floor – you’re takin’ the stairs. Since you’ve got weighted bags in each hand, climbing stairs will give your butt muscles something to scream about. Hell, do the stairs, up and down, a few times. Don’t worry if your neighbors give you funny looks. They’re probably just lazy and wouldn’t understand.


Now that you’ve successfully finished the Trader Joe’s workout, bask in the glory of having run your errands, worked your muscles, and enjoy the fact that you probably saved money and calories – as TJ’s stuff tends to cost less money and grams of fat – and for god’s sake eat now that you’ve burned all those cals (and probably strained something in the process – hey, I never claimed to be an expert).


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