Weights, weights, don’t kill me

January 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

I’ve never attended a school where physical activity was a big thing. My ultra-liberal Quaker high school didn’t have a football team and let me pretend to take yoga once a week to pass out of actual gym. My ultra-intellectual college once built a library on top of the playing fields and banned all sports teams. Needless to say, I’m pretty okay with this. I never got what tackling other people had to do with learning critical thinking skills.

But somewhere along the way UChicago seems to have gotten the idea that their student body shouldn’t be made up of pasty, asthmatic slobs. No longer is it content with merely inflicting a robust and challenging system of academic distribution requirements on its hapless undergraduates. These days, everyone has to line up during orientation week and wheeze their flabby way through a series of draconian fitness tests. When it was my turn, I tried to game it as best I could (avoiding caffeine to keep my  heart rate down, shaving 20 pounds off my stated body weight to get a lighter bench press), but as a stiff and sedentary 18-year-old, the only test I didn’t flunk miserably was “grip strength.” (What use this has, I couldn’t tell you, but I will crush you one-handed if you make fun of it)

Having attended grades K-12 in an environment when you could pretty much Cher-Horowitz yourself out of any distribution requirement, I did not think this meant I would actually have to take gym. O me of little faith! My academic advisor practically made me drop and give her fifty when I attempted to blow it off. And yes, even though I do actually move my body more than I did at the beginning of first year (I run now! Lots-ish!), apparently that is NOT ENOUGH. And so, however improbably, I have found myself in the gym, twice a week, taking Introduction to Free Weights.

With my noodly arms and low tolerance for pain, I am not a great study at this. Also, most of the people in the class are 1. male and 2. even noodlier than I am, which makes for a hilarious tableau of us pencil-necked geeks in chess tournament t-shirts balancing bars on our shoulders and squatting as our instructor yells out encouragement to us. Also also, 9 AM is far from the best time of day to pick up and put down things that are heavy. And, sneakily, there is thinking involved! You have to do all this addition and division to figure out how much to load up on to your bench press bar: If Blair has a 25-pound bar, two 5-pound weights, and four 10-pound weights, how long will it taker her to realize she’s put the weight clip on backwards? 

I’m being dramatic. It’s really not so bad, except for the next-day throbbing in my quads or ceps or whatever. It’s probably a good way to make sure my muscles don’t atrophy from too much sitting on the couch by the kitchen waiting for my toast to be done. And who knows, it might even give me a more practical way of defending myself than gripping things to death!

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