This post has a fairly loose musical tie-in, but I had to write it. Forgive me.
I have about 10 fitness apps on my phone. Not one has really inspired me to do anything. The promise of personalized routines, reminder messages at prescribed intervals… nothing.
I spent a while devising my own workout plans and all too quickly abandoning them.
I used to be in shape and working a physical day job and for sport I would challenge the young punks I worked with at my night job to pull-ups on the steel beams in the back room. I always beat them despite being on average 10 years older than them all.
Music! That’s what was missing. I tried checking out Spotify lists for workout music and jock jams and I just didn’t really feel inspired by any of it. It all sounded more like dance music, or was too hip-hop/rappy for my taste.
I ended up on YouTube searching for music to do push-ups to. When I ended up on this video I knew I had fallen into the rabbit hole. Beware. I found myself listening to this song more than once.
I’m 55 years old now and not in terrible shape, but starting something like working out needs to be a slow climb and not a shock to the system. I need to be able to work at it in small doses, make it a habit and blend it into my life. I had been using the treadmill for a while, but I wanted to see something tangible. I watched Hulu on my treadmill, so obviously I was not sprinting, just walking. I needed something else to add in.
Not sure why I was focused on push-ups, but it seemed they seemed to be a nice easy no-equipment way to get started.
The problem though for me was mental. In my head I was envisioning this.
Incidentally, I once owned this album.
It was the juice back in the day. “Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)” was everywhere. You simply could not deny slip streaming into Rocky’s victory and the exhilaration of the stairs run. The simple downtrodden boxer claws his way out and survives what no one believed he could. It was magical. After that movie, meh, but this one survives as inspiration music forever.
The rest of it wasn’t bad either.
Check out “Take You Back (Street Corner Song)”. Love that one.
Anyway… I digress.
What change for me was when I read a post by writer James Stafford. He writes about music, and other things too, including posting Hipgnosis album covers too. Obviously, my cup of tea. He’s a great read. Check him out. The site is Why It Matters:
One day in particular he posted about doing pushups.
He described a simple method of doing push ups, 1 more than the day before, each day, for the whole year. This was his December 30th post and I was inspired. I determined I was going to give it a try myself. Knowing myself as I do, if I had read this on January perhaps 12th, or further into the month, the stars may not have aligned, but the New Year’s Resolution bug is hard to resist.
Jan 1st – 1 push up. Done!
One thing I learned… I was weak. I struggled with Jan 5. I was disgusted. I thought to myself I was old and weak and I figured I would give up soon, but what put a fire in me was thinking back to that dude I used to be, beating the young kids at pull ups.
I made it through the first week.
Then a second week. To my surprise, it was getting a little easier. Still. I could only do 10 in a set. It wasn’t until February until I could do 20 in a set. I remember doing 19 one day and going down for 20, stoked I had made it and wanting to hit 20 SO badly, and being bummed when my arms literally were not able to get me back up to complete it. I strained something. I didn’t do # 20 until after work that day. My right shoulder was sore. I thought that may be the end of the push ups. The next day though… I did 18 in a set and then finished them off before I headed to work.
About a week later, I did 20 in a set.
I did reach at one point 25 in a set, to see if I could, but 20 is a good set for me. Pretty consistently doable and a nice chunk to check off. I was forgetting how many I had done sometimes, resulting in me having to create a system of recording quantities on my phone in Google Keep. Check the box for quantities done. No losing track and having to do extra when you questioned yourself. Here I have done 60.
Once I was done for the day I unchecked the boxes and started over. Simple.
The issue became the sheer quantity. Pre-pandemic I was trying to get them all done before I left for work. If I missed some I ended up doing them on the floor of a conference room, ew… so I had inspiration to finish them off at home. Plus, the few times I had done them right before bed I woke up sore. So get them done early as possible and have recovery time.
The milestones ticked by. 75 was a big day. Then 80.
I had to say that even though I had struggled to get 5 in when I started, I was pretty pleased to be able to do 80 in a day. Also, I was getting muscular. People noticed.
I didn’t even realize there are muscles in the backs of your arms. Now I had some. I know because they were sore. What was happening to my neck? My son told me I was getting the collar. I presume that’s good.
I’m not saying I am finely sculpted at this point…
but I can say that I am improved from my former self.
Today I hit the magical 100 mark. 5 sets of 20. I don’t know if I will make it to 365 (or the total sum of 66,795 pushups)… but I’m still going, I’m out of the “this is a chore” phase and into really enjoying the changes I see in me and the feeling of accomplishment.
On to 200 !
Wish me luck!