Archive for May, 2015

Tue. – 5/12 triple double burpees + Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Supergroupers, see you in Brownwood Park at 6:15 on Tuesday, but stay tuned (on the FB page) for Saturday’s location. Rumor has it we may be at The Wall on Irwin Street.

For Tuesday’s challenge/dare, we’re doing triple double burpees, which are exactly like the triple double Oreos, except the doubles filling out the triple-decker are push-ups rather than lard. You get down, kick your feet out into a plank, two of your regular pushups, down dog, two higher-level pushups, stand up and jump.

7 rounds of:

3 triple-double burpees
10 weighted squats  (5 squats if you have access to a barbell and can do heavy front or back squats)

It’s A-OK to break up the rounds, but try to do at least 3 rounds through in any one go. If you grind through all 7 rounds in a row, let us know your total time and the weight you used (if any) in the comments.

For Tuesday’s poem, we turn to the Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, a writer of powerful short stories (collected in Arranged Marriage and The Unknown Errors of Our Lives), beautiful novels (Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, Oleander Girl), and – who knew? – haunting poems:

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The fields flame with it, endless, blue
as cobra poison. It has entered our blood
and pulses up our veins
like night. There is no other color.
The planter’s whip
splits open the flesh of our faces,
a blue liquid light trickles
through the fingers. Blue dyes the lungs
when we breathe. Only the obstinate eyes
refuse to forget where once the rice
parted the earth’s moist skin
and pushed up reed by reed,
green, then rippled gold
like the Arhiyal’s waves. Stitched
into our eyelids, the broken dark,
the torches of the planter’s men, fire
walling like a tidal wave
over our huts, ripe charred grain
that smelled like flesh. And the wind
screaming in the voices of women
dragged to the plantation,
feet, hair, torn breasts.
In the worksheds, we dip our hands,
their violent forever blue,
in the dye, pack it in great embossed chests
for the East India Company.
Our ankles gleam thin blue from the chains.
After that night
many of the women killed themselves.
Drowning was the easiest.
Sometimes the Arhiyal gave us back
the naked, swollen bodies, the faces
eaten by fish. We hold on
to red, the color of their saris,
the marriage mark on their foreheads,
we hold it carefully inside
our blue skulls, like a man
in the cold Paush night
holds in his cupped palms a spark,
its welcome scorch,
feeds it his foggy breath till he can set it down
in the right place,
to blaze up and burst
like the hot heart of a star
over the whole horizon,
a burning so beautiful you want it
to never end.

Mon. – 5/11 Push-up variations + Maya Angelou

  We’re starting the week off with this triple triplet:

3 times:

30 pushups
30 second plank
30 squats

For your pushups, break up your 30 into 6 sets of 5, doing some kind of variation every set. The variation can be minor (moving your hands out an inch), or major (handstand push-ups). Some variations: go wide, go narrow, incline, decline, diamond, slide to hollows, clapping, chest slap, one hand elevated on a book, spiderman, weighted.

For your plank, on your hands or elbows or both fine. You can either just hang out, or if you want to juice it, squeeze the hell out of your ass and quads.

Do not do the 3 rounds all in a row. Take at least an hour between your triplets, so you can be fresh as you play around with your push-ups.

The dare part of the dare today is to get someone to do some of these push-ups with you. If you can get them to do slapping partner push-ups with you, all the better.

Let us know in the comments your variations, and whether you were able to convince someone to get down with you in push-upland.

Poem-wise, we start the week with Maya Angelou’s. Her performance of Still I Rise is simply amazing.

Still I Rise
Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Sun. – 5/10 Three minutes of life + Patricia Smith

You’ll need your dumbbells for today’s daily dare (About gives you the deets re: how heavy & where you can find cheap dumbbells). We’re using them to do bent-over rows (to balance our push-ups) and dumbbell hang power clean and presses. Super short (this should not take longer than 3 minutes) but super intense. Here we go:

5 bent over rows
3 dumbbell hand power clean & presses
5 pushups

3 times as fast as possible, rest 30 seconds, then twice more.

That’s it. Then get outside and enjoy this perfect day!

Sunday’s poem is by the award-winning-yet-under-appreciated poet Patricia Smith, who is working on a biography of Harriet Tubman.

Patricia Smith (from Blood Dazzler, 2008)

I was birthed restless and elsewhere
gut dragging and bulging with ball lightning, slush,
broke through with branches, steel
I was bitch-monikered, hipped, I hefted
a whip rain, a swirling sheet of grit.
Scraping toward the first of you, hungering for wood, walls,
unturned skin. With shifting and frantic mouth, I loudly loved
the slow bones
of elders, fools, and willows.
For an astounding, extended mix of poems in response to Katrina, check out some excerpts here, then buy Blood Dazzler.

Sat. – 5/9 Animal walking + June Jordan

After this first week of our 31-day Push-ups (+ poems) Challenge, we trust your push-ups are a little bit stronger and your ear a little finer tuned to the beauty of words.

For those of you in Supergroup, see you at Brownwood at 10:00 for our Saturday workout. One word: deadlifts.

The dare for the day:

5 rounds of:

jumping squats
10 lunges each leg
turn around
5 jumping squats
bear walk back to your start line

If you’re able to do this outside in the grass somewhere, double points for you. If you’d like to switch out your walks, you can choose other animals: alligator walk, crab walk, inchworm.

Then…50 perfect pushups in as few sets as possible.

In the comments let us know your animal(s) and the number of sets it took you to do 50 perfect pushups.

The poem for Saturday is June Jordan, who wrote this for Fannie Lou Hamer. This is only the first bit of the poem – for some reason, wordpress doesn’t hold on to tabs, and you should click over to the to read the whole poem, formatting intact.

June Jordan
1977: Poem for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer

You used to say, “June?
Honey when you come down here you
supposed to stay with me. Where
Meanin home
against the beer the shotguns and the
point of view of whitemen don’
never see Black anybodies without
some violent itch start up.

Fri. – 5/8 Dive bomber Friday + Siddiq Turkestani

photo (22)Friday, yes! Let’s get the weekend started early with this little ditty:

15 squats, weighted in any way you can – large child, barbell, chair, bag of dog food, stack of books
10 regular push-ups
5 dive bomber push-ups (From a downward dog, lower your shoulders toward the floor until your chest almost touches it, then dip your body upward; your chest will be up with your back arched, head up and arms straight. Hold for 1 second then reverse the movement)

This is one set. You’re doing this set a total of 6 times, taking as long as you like between sets. If you work a desk job, better to spread these out throughout the day than to do them all at once.

When you’re done, let us know how you weighted the squats. Go get ’em, tigers!

This poem by Siddiq Turkestani is part of a collection of poems from GuantánamoBay, assembled in 2007 by the detainees’ habeas attorneys, Turkestani was imprisoned in Guantánamo from 2001-2005, released after the military determined he was not an enemy combatant.

Siddiq Turkestani
Even if the Pain

Even if the pain of the wound increases,
There must be a remedy to treat it.

Even if the days in prison endure,
There must be a day when we will get out.

(122 people remain in Guantánamo. Fifty of these men were cleared for release five years ago by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force).

Thur. – 5/7 Ladder up and down + Nathasha Thethewey

What’s on tap for Thursday? Push-ups, of course. We’re doing a ladder up with squats, back down with sit-ups:

1 push-up, 1 squat
2 push-ups, 2 squats
3 push-ups, 3 squats
… up to
7 push-ups, 7 squats

Then do 30 squats

7 push-ups, 7 sit-ups
6 push-ups, 6 sit-ups
5 push-ups, 5 sit-ups
…down to
1 push-up, 1 sit-up

Then do 30 sit-ups. For all the sit-ups, feel free to use your new hollow-body skills to do V-ups if the urge strikes you.

Here’s the amazing former U.S. Poet Laureate (and current Emory professor & Atlanta resident) Natasha Trethewey’s opening poem from her spectacular Native Guard collection:

Theories of Time and Space
Natasha Trethewey (2006)

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion – dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on the mangrove swamp – buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry- time of memory,
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph – who you were –
will be waiting when you return.

Wed. – 5/6 Squats & inversions + al-Qasim

For our mid-week dare, we’re taking a break from push-ups and doing squats and inversions instead:

20 squats
30 second hold inversion
20 squats
30 second inversion
20 squats
max hold inversion

The squats can be any kind: weighted back squats, front squats, overhead squats, goblet squats, or air squats. Go as heavy as you’re able. The inversions are getting your hips above your shoulders any way any how: a downward facing dog, an L-shaped handstand, a handstand with either your back or chest facing the wall, or a headstand. If you’re name is Zahra or Daniel, try handstand shoulder taps.

Let us know in the comments your flavor of squats and inversions.

This is the Palestinian poet Samih al-Qasim, who died last year at the age of 75.This short work captures the difficulty and necessity of poetry under conditions of intense repression.

Slit Lips
Translated by Abdullah al-Udhari. Victims of a Map. Al Saqi Book (2005)

I would have liked to tell you

The story of a nightingale that died.

I would have liked to tell you

The story…

                  Had they not slit my lips.

Tue. – 5/5 Pop & Fizz + Pablo Neruda

For those of you in QF Supergroup, see you at Brownwood Park at 6:15. Glo is coaching.

Everyone else, we’re doing this:

12 lunges each leg, your choice of weight held close to your chest
6 pushups
3 burpees

Go 6 minutes.

Rest 1 minute. Then a hard & fast finish doing 2 rounds of:

12 lunges without weight
6 pushups
3 burpees

As you catch your breath, here’s the Chilean-communist-Nobel Prize winner-ambassador Pablo Neruda  –

The Dictators
Pablo Neruda

An odor has remained among the sugarcane:
a mixture of blood and body, a penetrating
petal that brings nausea.
Between the coconut palms the graves are full
of ruined bones, of speechless death-rattles.
The delicate dictator is talking
with top hats, gold braid, and collars.
The tiny palace gleams like a watch
and the rapid laughs with gloves on
cross the corridors at times
and join the dead voices
and the blue mouths freshly buried.
The weeping cannot be seen, like a plant
whose seeds fall endlessly on the earth,
whose large blind leaves grow even without light.
Hatred has grown scale on scale,
blow on blow, in the ghastly water of the swamp,
with a snout full of ooze and silence

Mon. – 5/4 Starting the Week with push-ups + Audre Lorde

Get this sequence done early in the day to get your week started with a burst of energy:

Down dog into a plank, hold for 5 seconds, then 6-10 push-ups (unbroken)
Down dog into a plank, hold for 5 seconds, then 10 mountain-climbers (each leg)
Down dog into a plank, hold for 5 seconds, then 6-10 push-ups
20 squats
5 high jumps or tuck jumps
Stretch your arms way up towards the sky and count 5 full breaths

Repeat. 5 rounds total.

When in your plank, for a bit of extra extra, squeeze your glutes (that’s your butt) like you’re making a panini between them. To keep your alignment, you’ll need to squeeze your quads hard too.

Also, get your dumbbells this week if you’ve not done so already. We’ll start incorporating them next Monday. Choose a weight that’s difficult (but possible) to do 5 shoulder presses.

For Day 4 of our Push-ups + Poems challenge, we turn to Audre Lorde. Before it was the title of a collection of her essays and speeches (1984), Sister Outsider was a poem, in Lorde’s Black Unicorn collection. Here it is.

Sister Outsider
Audre Lorde (The Black Unicorn 1978)

We were born in a poor time
never touching
each other’s hunger
sharing our crusts
in fear
the bread became enemy.

Now we raise our children
to respect themselves
as well as each other.

Now you have made loneliness
holy and useful
and no longer needed
your light shines very brightly
but I want you
to know
your darkness also
and beyond fear.

Sun. – 5/3 Fivers + Martin Espada

photo (21)…we step up our push-ups.

Our Sunday dare is to do 2 sets of 5 push-ups at the top of every hour. As Lionel Richie says, it’s easy like Sunday morning.

The first set of 5 are your regular push-up. Take a few seconds to sit back, shake your arms out, and say, “I am amazing beyond belief.”  The second set of 5 are one step up from your regular push-up. If you are on your knees, then do the second set of 5 off your knees. If you can almost get your chest to the ground, then the “step up” set is getting your chest all the way to the ground and pausing 1/2 a second. If you have a chest to ground pushup, your “step up” is a clapping pushup.

What’s challenging about this is, of course, doing the push-ups no matter where you are throughout the day. You can stop after 10 hours. Or you can keep on going. Drop a note in the comments letting us know how many hours you managed and where you did your push-ups.

Today’s poem is one we’ve read aloud at different movement gatherings for many, many years, but really this time, this is the year.

Imagine the Angels of Bread
Martín Espada

This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roof deck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border’s undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.