Archive for October, 2012

It’s not cold, it’s just your skin

As a competitive swimmer in Tallahassee, we trained outdoors year round, winters included. In this northernmost part of Florida, winters get damned cold. When the pool deck froze into a solid sheet of ice, you had to walk – in your Speedo, mind you – from the locker room to the pool at just the right speed…quick enough that your feet didn’t stick to the ice, fast enough that you didn’t slip and fall. Miscalculate and you died of exposure.

OK. So that only happened once. The pool deck freezing over, that is. No one ever died of exposure.

But we all thought we might die of exposure. Which wasn’t such a crazy thought, given all we had were 15 cm of lycra and 5% body fat stretched over our shivering bones. Even if the whole deck only froze over once, kickboards did freeze onto the deck and icicles did form off the starting blocks whenever it dropped below 32 degrees. On those days, we undressed very slowly. We vowed to quit swimming and take up a nice indoor sport like knitting. Then we huddled at the door of the warm locker room, immobilized by the impossibility of the present, cruel situation.

At which point Coach came over and growled:  It’s not cold; it’s just your skin. Read more…

Why Women Can’t Do Pull-ups

This summer, Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter explained Why Women Can’t Have It All. (Patriarchy, still.)

Then, in August, Congressman Todd Akin explained why women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” (Sperm killing micro-attack gnomes)

This coming Sunday, the New York Times magazine is going to explain Why Women Can’t Do Pull-Ups.  It has something to do with physics and physiology.

It’s a stupid article, citing a study where 17 women who couldn’t do a pull-up did a 3-month long exercise program to “strengthen the biceps and the latissimus dorsi.” When the women were put back on the bar, 4 of the women knocked out a pull-up, and 13 did not. This, along with some irrelevant wah wah wah about people with long arms (which, last I checked, included men, women, and everyone in between) having long levers, was Tara Parker-Pope’s evidence that women can’t do pull-ups.

But stupid can be great. It has pushed Tara Parker-Pope up into the top ten of NYTime’s most-emailed articles, an unusual spot for a health blog post.  Nevermind that most of the people emailing have in their subject line: Check it out – dumbest NYTimes article ever.

Stupid is also great because there’s something magical about phrases starting with “Women can’t…” It gets my little sperm killing micro-attack gnomes revved up. If I were Catholic I would be right up there with Diane Dougherty trying to get myself ordained as a female priest, excommunication be damned. If I were a Marine, I’d be clamoring to be assigned to a combat unit, and I don’t even enjoy killing people. If I was a Mormon, I’d be trying to marry me four husbands. Wait. No I won’t. Four wives.

Anyway, I’m not Catholic. Nor am I a Marine or a Mormon. What I am is someone who can do pull-ups. Read more…

World Peace Through Push-ups

Exercise programs generally fall into one of two camps. The first is the individual workout. You against the treadmill. Or the deadlift bar. Or the shoulder press machine.  Maybe there’s a workout partner or a personal trainer to egg you on. But in an individual workout, all the huffing and puffing is you doing you.

The second is the group workout: bootcamps, crossfit, Army PT, Richard Simmons, and spin class. Group workouts tend to be a little more fun and more effective. People work harder when there are other people around, especially if those other people are good looking and scantily clad.

Look a little closer, though, and we see that most group workouts are really individual workouts, done in a group. Being in a group helps you huff and puff a bit harder, and it takes the edge off the loneliness of the long distance runner, but at its core, it’s still an individual workout. You zumba over there, I’ll zumba over here, thank you very much.

Queerfit started out as a traditional group exercise program, with the extra bonus frosting of being queer+trans-centric. What’s developed over the past year, though, is a whole different breed of honey badger. Queerfit has, somewhat unintentionally, mutated into a third kind of exercise program.

We’re working out an exercise program that replaces individualism with mutualism. It’s sexier, more effective, and the path to a better world.

Farfetched? We have to science to back it up. Read more…

Squat-a-thon 2012

We’re in the last 7 days of our squat-a-thon and things are looking good, thanks especially to queerfitters who have apparently coerced family members into ponying up some generous contributions.

Have you coerced any family members? Or put in a fat juicy donation of your own? If not yet, use this here ChipIn.

Here are the top ten reasons for clicking over and sending your hard-earned money to Queerfit:

10. You ate 3 Krispy Kreme donuts last night. The squat-a-thon’s dispensations do for your blood glucose level what papal dispensations do for your sins. Buy yourself some divine forgiveness.   

9. When the revolution comes, there will be lots of heavy lifting. Read more…

I hate running

And yet, I’m building our Tuesday workouts around sprints. Here’s why.

Humans are built to run. When Harvard biologists stuck a cheetah on a treadmill with a thermometer up its butt, the scientists discovered the cheetah refused to run when its inner temperature reached 105 degrees.  Putting aside the question of why a cheetah with a thermometer up his butt would run at all, scientists concluded that running animals need to stop periodically to cool off. The exception is humans – our sweat glands make us far better at cooling off than any other animal that runs. This ability to cool off while running explains why humans can beat cheetahs, horses and any other animal when matched up in long distance races of twenty miles or more.

Putting this cool cooling ability alongside the loss of our opposable toes, our long Achilles tendons, and our enormous gluteus maximus (which fire up a lot when running, but only a bit when walking, and generally not at all when there’s a thermometer stuck up there), the hottest theory about running these days is that humans evolved to run down prey in a certain way: hunters used a slow-ish loping run that didn’t have to be fast enough to actually catch what they were hunting; they just had to keep up enough to keep the animal from stopping to cool down.  Eventually, the antelope or kudu or whatever just fell over from overheating. Read more…

Queerfit is One…

…almost.

The first Queerfit workout was a year ago, right after the Oakland police cleared out the Occupy encampment in Ogawa Plaza and then attacked protesters trying to reclaim it.  There was a video of Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen’s friends struggling to carry him to safety after his skull was fractured by a flash grenade. I got a bit worried. About, you know, the police state and the violence of capitalism and all that. But also about the very practical question of who among my friends would be able to haul me off the street if I were whacked on the head during a street protest.

The 105 pound ladies from my Crossfit gym would be able to squat down in their $105 Lululemon yoga pants, hoist me on their shoulder and trot off to safety.  But those ladies, bless their hearts, are more 1% than 99%. My friends & comrades who are more likely to be on the street protesting the empire were, well, somewhat less likely to be able to do any hoisting and trotting away.

Thus, out of self interest in surviving the slings, arrows and tear gas canisters in the long battle against empire, came Queerfit.

Over the past year, we’ve made a habit out of getting in a workout together on Saturday mornings. At last count, over 100 of you have joined us to squat, lunge, climb, and bear walk your way into the weekend. We’ve done a lot of push-ups. Those of us who have become regulars have gotten not just stronger and more mobile, but also smarter, kinder, and stunningly better looking.

We’re celebrating in two ways:

First, the Squat-a-thon.   Read more…

Queerfit Upgrade – Tuesdays 6:00

Alright, you asked for it, you got it. Queerfit Tuesday nights starts tomorrow at 6:00.

We’ll meet at Phoenix Park Number Two in Summerhill, a fabulous spot equidistant between West End, Downtown and Grant Park.  There’s a very fast, very fresh regulation quarter-mile track built as the warm-up track for the 1996 Olympics. Next to the track is an enormous, well-manicured field where little 3 foot tall munchkins have football practice.

The address on Google Maps is 719 Ami St SE, Atlanta GA 30315.

We’re going with the track because, well, because Will Smith told the 3 foot tall munchkins at the 2005 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards that “the key to life is running and reading.”  The reading part, you’re on your own. The running part, we can can do together.

We will not be doing slow laps around the track. But we will use the track and run more (and faster) than we do during our Saturday morning workouts.

If you need a little extra motivation – for running or for life – check out clip from  the Fresh Prince turned Man in Black turned Legend:

[starting at 4:05] I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period.  Do squats. See y’all tomorrow evening!