RELIGION

Fitness program for campus rabbis is latest effort to improve clergy health

  • In this July 13, 2014, photo provided by Rabbi Yosef Kulek, Kulek poses for a photo in Hartford, Conn., before beginning a fitness program that provided campus rabbis with online support and covered half the cost of a personal trainer for six months. Kulek directs a center for Jewish students at the University of Hartford. Chabad on Campus, an international outreach organization, developed the fitness program at the urging of Rabbi Moshe Gray, who serves Dartmouth College. (Dalia Kulek/Rabbi Yosef Kulek via AP)

    In this July 13, 2014, photo provided by Rabbi Yosef Kulek, Kulek poses for a photo in Hartford, Conn., before beginning a fitness program that provided campus rabbis with online support and covered half the cost of a personal trainer for six months. Kulek directs a center for Jewish students at the University of Hartford. Chabad on Campus, an international outreach organization, developed the fitness program at the urging of Rabbi Moshe Gray, who serves Dartmouth College. (Dalia Kulek/Rabbi Yosef Kulek via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this July 12, 2015, photo provided by Rabbi Yosef Kulek, Kulek poses for a photo in Hartford, Conn. Kulek is shown a year after he began a fitness program that provided campus rabbis with online support and covered half the cost of a personal trainer for six months. Kulek, who directs a center for Jewish students at the University of Hartford, lost 22 pounds and six pants sizes after a year of regular exercise. (Devora Kulek/Rabbi Yosef Kulek via AP)

    In this July 12, 2015, photo provided by Rabbi Yosef Kulek, Kulek poses for a photo in Hartford, Conn. Kulek is shown a year after he began a fitness program that provided campus rabbis with online support and covered half the cost of a personal trainer for six months. Kulek, who directs a center for Jewish students at the University of Hartford, lost 22 pounds and six pants sizes after a year of regular exercise. (Devora Kulek/Rabbi Yosef Kulek via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this July 12, 2015, photo provided by Rabbi Yosef Kulek, Kulek poses for a photo in Hartford, Conn. Kulek is shown a year after he began a fitness program that provided campus rabbis with online support and covered half the cost of a personal trainer for six months. Kulek, who directs a center for Jewish students at the University of Hartford, lost 22 pounds and six pants sizes after a year of regular exercise. (Devora Kulek/Rabbi Yosef Kulek via AP)

    In this July 12, 2015, photo provided by Rabbi Yosef Kulek, Kulek poses for a photo in Hartford, Conn. Kulek is shown a year after he began a fitness program that provided campus rabbis with online support and covered half the cost of a personal trainer for six months. Kulek, who directs a center for Jewish students at the University of Hartford, lost 22 pounds and six pants sizes after a year of regular exercise. (Devora Kulek/Rabbi Yosef Kulek via AP)  (The Associated Press)

At Dartmouth College and elsewhere, campus rabbis are getting in shape as they shore up spirits.

After his own personal trainer pointed out the plethora of overweight clergy, Rabbi Moshe Gray urged an international outreach organization for Jewish students — to create a fitness program for his peers and their wives. Participants started by getting medical checkups and creating fitness goals, and Chabad (khah-BAHD') on Campus offered online support groups and subsidized half the cost of a personal trainer for six months.

Altogether, the group of 30 participants lost 667 pounds.

Research has shown that clergy members of all faiths are at a higher risk for obesity and other health ailments than other Americans. A study published in January identified several factors, including stress, long hours and low pay.