Since I got back from a spontaneous hitching trip from Armenia to England and back, my mind has been on the problem of keeping fit. Like an awful lot of us, I’m destined to spend my time (for the next few months, at least) in a city. More than half of the world’s human population now live in urban environments. With this comes the threat of the sedentary lifestyle, and the declining levels of fitness and health with which we’re now becoming increasingly familiar.
Luckily, some of my favourite bloggers have been busy pinning up fragments of what is becoming a simple fitness regime, along with plenty of motivation (although some of the chubby‐cheeked photos from my university days do that job very well!). It couldn’t come at a better time. I was very much inspired by a good friend of mine who became an Ironwoman a few weeks ago. She went to incredible efforts to train for a course like that. Because of her, I’m now running several mornings a week, and I cycle everywhere, but this isn’t enough on its own.
One recommendation that caught my attention was a site simply entitled ‘One Hundred Push Ups’, which prescribes a thrice‐weekly 10‐minute workout to get you doing a hundred consecutive press‐ups after a mere 6 weeks. The basic idea is to do five sets of press‐ups three times a week, gradually increasing in number each time until you hit the satisfying‐sounding target number of One Hundred. I took the test to see where I’d be starting from, and dutifully knocked out a rather average twenty (proper) press‐ups before my arms gave up. In six weeks time, apparently, I’ll be able to do five times this number. We’ll see…
There are three sites in this network, the next being named ‘Two Hundred Sit‐Ups’ (stomach crunches, really, rather than the back‐breaking PE‐lesson versions of yore). The formula is the same. I got down on the floor to see where I was at, and managed a not‐entirely‐unrespectable thirty‐four before my stomach muscles seized up. Another element of my fitness routine on the chart for the next six weeks — nice.
The final site is — you’ve guessed it — ‘Two Hundred Squats’. I figured I should do a bit better with these, having only stopped cycling about three months ago. According to the site, the average person can do between twenty‐six and thirty‐five before collapsing in heap of jelly, whereas more than fifty is branded ‘excellent’. Well, I got to two hundred and nine before scanning the room for a heavy object to hold to make it more difficult. I grasped a conveniently‐placed vacuum cleaner to my chest and continued. After three hundred squats clutching the hoover I figured I’d done enough for one day. So I guess all that cycling did something permanent!
It would be pointless to do these routines just for the bragging rights alone. Behind the numerical targets lies a simple way to restore respect to our bodies and remember what they’re capable of and what they evolved to do. While it might be slightly sorry to imagine a grown man in his living room embracing a household appliance whilst performing three hundred deep knee bends, the point is that when you feel the urge to head for the hills, you aren’t stalled by the thought that your body won’t be able to keep up — and that’s going to be my goal for the next few months. We’re all capable of getting fit and staying that way, so why not give one of these challenges a go?