Monday, December 13, 2010

The Dreaded Pull Up

After the Tough Mudder race I needed an incentive to return to the gym on a regular basis. After all, come October 9th (race day) what was going to keep me returning? I already have a few friends who dropped off the gym schedule. Not to name names, but Vince who originally guilted us in to participating in Tough Mudders to begin with hasn’t been seen at the gym since October 6th – “I need three days prior to the race to rest”. Apparently, he needed two months after the race to rest too. How are those Big Macs, muffin top?

I needed a reason to keep going - I couldn’t be motivated solely by inner peace, outer strength and an overarching need for physical maintenance. Sadly, knocking on 40’s door wasn’t enough to keep the ol’ gym attendance up. I needed something else.

As I pondered this dilemma out loud one day to no one in particular, my trainer politely stepped in.

“I noticed that you are having a hard time doing a pull up. Perhaps that can be your goal.”

Um, yes I can and eat my shorts.

After several embarrassing attempts at the pull up bar (think dead fish flopping on land), it was clear what my next goal would be. But before I get into the details that would help me achieve that goal, I want to pause for a moment and allow that reality to settle in: I cannot do one stinking pull up.

I vaguely remember the “President’s test” in junior high – the physical education test to gauge how fit American kids really are. Couldn’t I do at least three pull ups back then? I can’t remember. But due to my over inflated sense of physical self, I remember feeling damn good about my accomplishments back then. And since pull ups were a highlight, I recall doing them without struggle… or was that the sit up?

With this new goal in mind, my dear trainers at the gym have harassed me into submission. I distinctly recall a particularly difficult workout that zeroed in on all of those muscles in the upper body – the ones I don’t have – the pecs, the lats, the biceps, the shoulders. Instead I am the proud owner of two underarm sag bags. And proud – did I say that already?

The workout consisted of clean and jerks (this is apparently not an exercise to do while engaged in intimate relations with your partner), sandbag tosses (think mamed German Shepard over your shoulder), and kettle ball swings (these are old cast iron Russian weights that really have no place on American soil). Oh, and here’s the exercise that almost put me in an early grave – the burpies to pull ups. I will do my best at the description. Start with a pushup, but instead of ending with arms extended in the horizontal upright position, end with your legs in a squat position and leap through the air as if you are going to choke the person standing in front of you. Then, when you are fully extended with hands reaching for the sky, resembling a completely spaced out Shape magazine model who just found out her cereal is non-fat, you grab on to the pull up bar and spaz yourself upwards so that your chin clears the top. Now try doing that eight times.

Eat my shorts.

With all of the complaining I do (“less talky, more lifty” says my trainers), I am rather surprised to announce that two weeks ago, I did three pull ups. That’s right, not one but three. And today, I added a forth.

What’s next, you ask? Well, don’t ask me, ask my trainers. They say I can do ten pull ups by March. Actually, there’s some discrepancy. One trainer (who seems to be the more rational one – the one I like better) says I can do ten. While the other one (the Devil himself) says that I can probably accomplish 15-20.

Eat my shorts.

You may be wondering what my chest looks like right about now. (Or if you’re not, thank you for being polite). Either way, I will share. Let me just put it this way. I shop in the junior department for specific undergarments. And that weird line that goes down the middle of your upper chest? Apparently, that separates out the pectoral muscles that were once my breasts. Who knew?

Well, I know one thing – I may look a little odd (male) from the sternum up, but I could probably whip the behind of the perp who is following you down that dark ally. Do you need an escort madame?

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