She Can Do More Pushups Than Me!?!
- on May 4, 2011
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, hundredpushups.com. 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.