Focus on Fitness: So long, farewell, shalom, until we meet again

By Gloria Schwartz

When I first approached Ottawa Jewish Bulletin Editor Michael Regenstreif back in 2012 with my idea for a fitness column, I never imagined my column would last this long. I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts with readers on a variety of topics. Some of my articles flowed quickly off of my fingertips; others took me 10 to 20 hours to research and write. One hundred and sixty-eight columns times an average of 15 hours equals 2,520 hours or 105 days of my life.

An expert is not necessarily someone who knows everything about a topic, but is someone who is willing to ask questions, learn and grow. I learned a lot along the way as I expanded the scope of my column to include fitness-related topics such as the impact of exercise on various diseases and mental health, as well as nutritional advice. I hope you learned something, too. I hope more than anything that I informed and inspired some of you to make a few changes, even small ones, to improve your fitness and health. Even if I helped just one person have a better quality of life, then I feel I have contributed to helping repair the world.

Although this is my last column in the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, which will soon cease to exist, this is by no means my swan song. I still have plenty to say! In fact, I have been writing my second book during the pandemic and it’s almost ready for publication. This book is a departure from my fitness column and from my first book Personal Best. It’s a book of humour entitled Age of Hilarious: Laugh Your Way Through the Pandemic and Beyond. It’s filled with true stories and observations from my life as seen through my comic lens. I cover a range of topics including married life, motherhood, things that annoy me, Jewish customs, politics, and the challenges of pandemic life.

Just as exercise and nutrition are important for one’s health, so, too, is laughter. That’s why I felt it was the perfect time for such a book. Finding the funny during this stressful pandemic has helped me navigate my way through it. If you’ve enjoyed and found value in my Focus on Fitness columns these past nine years, I hope you will show your support for me as an author by buying my book. And no excuses – even if you don’t like reading, you can do bicep curls and overhead presses with my book. Or, get it for a friend or loved one who could use a laugh. Stay tuned for details on my Facebook group called Age of Hilarious Book or email me at

Although the Bulletin is coming to an end, I am look ahead to new beginnings. We are in uncertain and frankly, scary times, but I am confidant that life will return to a more familiar one down the road. In the months ahead, take care of yourselves. Look after your fitness and overall health as best as you can given the constraints and stress you’re enduring. My goals for the coming months are to focus on my own fitness and health, serve my country by staying home and staying away from people as much as possible, and by bringing a much-needed dose of laughter to the masses with my new book.

I thank you for reading my column these past nine years. Stay safe and stay well! I don’t like goodbyes. Instead, I’ll leave you with “Shalom!”