Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Noodle arms and flat noses

How many kinds of push ups do you think exist?

a) Twelve
b) Two
c) Twenty seven
d) Way, way, way too many

I recently discovered, much to the agonizing distress of various muscle groups, that the answer is, without a shadow of doubt, 'd'.

A group of friends and I decided to try out the P90x exercise program. I discovered quickly that having the upper body strength of a wet noodle is incompatible with this exercise regimen. The trainer orders you to the floor once every four seconds and cheerfully exhorts you to do a gadzillion push ups. The first time I tried this out I completed a third of a push up. I raised myself a scant millimeter off the floor and then unceremoniously thumped back down again. My arms wrote a strongly worded letter threatening divorce. My friends took pity on me and introduced me to cheaty-ups. These are the ones in which you put your knees on the floor and then do push-ups. In cheaty mode there was no stopping me. Before you could say 'Muscles' I was doing two push-ups without breaking a sweat. Then the instructor added variety - pushups with your hands close together, pushups with your hands really far apart, pushups with your hands placed on the mat such that your index fingers and thumbs form the shape of a diamond, pushups to the side, pushups with your feet on a low bench, pushups with your feet wide apart, phoenix pushups (These ones were the worst. I got into the starting position and then entirely failed to move. It did not matter which muscles I strained and pushed and willed - I did not move at all. I had to remind myself that I was on a rock hurtling through space, so technically I _was_ moving. At that point I decided to take advantage of the situation and snuck in a wee nap). Having exhausted all possible permutations and combinations of hands and feet, they played around with timing. Go down on four counts, back up on four counts. Do four fast. Do six slow. Push ups to the rhythm of the waltz. Push ups in the scale of C. Of course, I was still manfully doing two of each kind. But that isn't the point. For the other eight thousand reps I had to lie on the floor, flopping around like a beached fish, shedding every last vestige of self respect and self worth. Just when I thought that I had scraped the bottom of the humiliation barrel, they suggested that I incorporate applause into my push ups. I had to push myself up, sneak in a clap and then lower myself gracefully to the mat. I learned that if you don't clap fast enough, this exercise involves landing on your nose. This move is called the anti-occhio. If you don't exercise enough, your nose shrinks. And everybody who takes one look at your face can see it. The last straw came when they suggested that I attempt a one handed push up. I pushed myself all the way up and walked away.

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