She Can Do More Pushups Than Me!?!

Can I just point out that this was not my idea? I suppose it should have been. I'm one of the few males in a predominantly female workplace, and a push-up contest seems to me like a 'guy thing.' But it was a group of young women in our clinic who have latched onto the idea and now doing push-ups seems to have a life of its own.

It all started when Jenny Davidson, an HCHC AmeriCorps member and Diabetes Care & Prevention program coordinator stumbled across a website, The website promises that no matter how many push-ups you can do today, you'll be able to do 100 if you follow the program for six weeks. Each person's training, which includes 5 sets of pushups three days per week, is based upon which of three categories a person falls into at the start. Jenny felt duly challenged and inspired so she talked about it among coworkers and it caught hold.

On Thursday and Friday, about 12 staff members and volunteers found open floor space and turned on some upbeat mustic to do push-ups together to start the workday. Needless to say it has created a real buzz along with a lot of laughter. Maybe it reveals my gender bias but it's surreal to see and hear our entire staff, mostly women talking about how many push-ups they can do. I can't help but think of my football-playing days when the measure of one's manhood was how much the player could bench press. But what is most interesting to me is how this differs from that. The push-up challenge is a collegial, encouraging atmosphere. I keep trying to make it a competition in which we have a clear winner (preferably me) but they won't let me. It's not about winning, they say. It's about the process of getting fit.

Did I say it has a life of its own? Friday afternoon some of our staff assembled for a meeting with invited guest Amy Biel, who is on the board of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and works for Heart to Heart International in Olathe. Amy is a disease epidemiologist and was joining us to review some health outcomes data. Of course, the pushup challenge came up during introductions. Before I knew it, Amy and I were on the floor literally head to head doing push-ups together to the cheers of everyone assembled. Filmmaker Marc Havener just happened to be in the office for work on a video for our website and was attracted by the ruckus. After capturing a little on film, he too dropped and did 20 (or 40, actually). What a hoot!

I understand that exercise leads to improved brain function so maybe it's no surprise that we hatched a plan to engage Amy's co-workers at Heart to Heart in the challenge. We'd call it Heart to Heartland, print T-shirts and we'd gather in their warehouse in six weeks to culminate the challenge by doing our push-ups together. It all fell into place as if it had been there all along!

Of course my idea to make our T-shirts a different color (easier to identify the winners and losers) was shouted down. We're not competing, remember. We're getting fit together. Secretly, surprisingly, it's still a lot of fun.

Tagged: Heartland Community Health Center, wellness, 100 push-up challenge, workplace wellness


Karrey Britt 7 years, 5 months ago

Wow! What a great idea! I would have loved to have seen you and Amy doing the push-ups together. Kudos to the staff at Heartland!

Carolyn Crawford 7 years, 5 months ago

What a FUN way to get stronger!! Go Heartland!

jestevens 7 years, 5 months ago

Okay. This has GOT to go viral in Lawrence. Who's next?

jmaciaszek 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree! If every health office in Lawrence joined in the 100 Push-up Challenge, that would be amazing. Heck, if every office joined in - we'd be well on our way to a Guinness World Record!

Ali Edwards 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm thinking The World Company is next, Jane. :)

Karrey Britt 7 years, 5 months ago

Newsroom folks are at least talking about! May have to push a little harder — I'll let you know how it goes.

Jon Stewart 7 years, 5 months ago

I just want to point out the person who inspired the title, Ms. Lindsay Elliot. Although she can't REALLY do more than me, she easily doubles me up if we're comparing pound for pound. She's in the top photo in the yellow shirt.

lindsaye 7 years, 5 months ago

WHOA there Jon! Now, we will see if "she can't REALLY do more than me" holds true when we have the 100 in a row show down! And, Jenny, you are right: this isn't a contest!!! ;-) haha.

Oh, Jon, by the way... did you ever do your max out set this morning. Weird, I must have missed that..... hmm...


BNCCEO 7 years, 5 months ago

Ok, Pat Roach Smith and I are in and we will talk to our executive team on Monday.

Jon Stewart 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome to the team, Dave! As it says above, we're in it together.

Kris Adair 7 years, 5 months ago

I started the program a few months back and loved it. If I had continued I would not have had such a rough workout today at boot camp. Can I join virtually?

jestevens 7 years, 5 months ago

Absolutely! Karrey and I will start a pushups group on WellCommons today so that people who are doing this can report their progress.

jmaciaszek 7 years, 5 months ago

That's great! How do I find the group?

Robert Rauktis 7 years, 5 months ago

Surprise! You only need gravity to work out. Calisthenics are the "next" sexy exercise according to the New York Times. But they need a new name...preferably Greek; like Pilates is for sit-ups. Definitely makes 'em sexier.

Marilyn Hull 7 years, 5 months ago

If the NYT is right, Dog Days is ahead of its time. Maybe we need to make it sound it Le Dog Days and charge lots of money.

Or maybe we leave it alone, because it works the way it is -- free.

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