The Challenge: Moving More in ’24

January 4, 2023. We were cruising along at 35,000 feet over the ocean. It was night and the entire plane was asleep.

I nudged Sheryl awake and whispered, “Honey, what do you say we do it right here?!”

She rubbed her eyes a little and gave me an incredulous look – “What?” she said. “Are you crazy?  People will see us!”

I shook my head. “Everyone’s asleep! And besides, who cares if they do see?”

Sheryl huffed. “Go back to sleep, we’ll do it once we get to the hotel in London.”

End of discussion. Four days into the Great 2023 Push-Up and Ab Challenge, and we wouldn’t get to do our workout in the aisleway of a cruising 747. No mile high club here!

That’s right- pushups (and don’t forget the abs)! A little contest we held last year with 23 participants.  The rules were simple, you had to do 20 push-ups and 25 abs (of some form), every day.  You could miss one day a month. Miss more than one day a month, and you are out!

A day started at 12:01 am and ended at midnight. You could break up the sets if you needed to. It was all honesty system. Twenty-three participants started, and a whopping 12 were still standing on Dec 31, splitting the massive pot ($460.00) evenly between them.

I’m sure you are asking yourself why? Well, I’m no spring chicken, and as we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and strength. So it hit me while running one day that I needed to get some good old core work in, and I needed to structure it so that I would do it consistently. Being slightly competitive, I figured I would be able to find five or six friends willing to do this with me, and we might be able to make it three months before it was over. Better than nothing, I thought … so imagine my surprise at the 23 participants and the year long challenge! What a bunch of competitive folks.

I know these stories to all be true:

  • One participant realized it was 11:30 p.m. and she was going to not get to her hotel in time to do her workout, so her pushups were done on a moving subway in London.
  • One guy did his pushups in the bathroom at the airport (glad I didn’t see that one).
  • Several folks would pop awake at 11:30 or 11:45 pm and realize they had failed to do their exercises, and crawl out of bed to do them.
  • People were doing them on the beach, on a mountain trail, or in a bar.
  • One person even had students doing them with her during class.

So – fast forward to 2024. Coming off the success of the previous year, we re-offered the Push Up and Ab Challenge, but with a twist – your minimums increase every month. So in January, you’ve got 20 pushups, 24 abs (get it?? – 2024!!). Minimum push-ups increase by four each month, and abs increase by 5. We’ve got several participants again and have already heard:

  • Well, I was out drinking in Madrid and literally finished my pushups at 11:59.
  • I did them in the snow, having my nose touch the snow every time I went down.
  • I was wearing a nice coat and tie and realized they hadn’t been done yet, so I got them done dressed like I was.

We also started a challenge this year designed to “keep you moving,” and I’m not talking about the spicy food kind of moving.  As we age, we tend to become more sedentary, so why not make a contest that promotes moving your body in some fashion six days a week. But how to make an effort measurable and comparable to other workouts? Simple – MET charts. From Healthline:

  • One MET is the energy you spend sitting at rest — your resting or basal metabolic rate. So, an activity with a MET value of four means you’re exerting four times the energy than you would if you were sitting still.
  • To put it in perspective, a brisk walk at 3 or 4 miles per hour has a value of 4 METs. Jumping rope, which is a more vigorous activity, has a MET value of 12.3.

So – since it’s 2024, we decided that you should do 240 MET-Minutes of activity a day – 6 days a week (one week a month you can miss a day and only do 5). For example – if you run a mile at a 10-minute pace, your MET value is a 10.  If you do that for 24 minutes, you have achieved 240 MET-Minutes. There are charts out there that list all kinds of activities, from croquet to golf to swimming to running. The beautiful thing about this is that, depending on your fitness level, desire, and location, you can make your goal in 20 minutes or 120 minutes a day, all while keeping the couch (and the remote) at bay.  We’ve got a nice group of people in this challenge as well, and I think everyone is having a good time with this one!  We will see who’s left standing at the end of the year!

So Sheryl and I have got a trip to Portugal coming up soon, and I can only imagine the conversation with my lovely bride on the plane ride over the Atlantic. I’m not sure if I will be able to talk her into playing pickleball in the aisleway, but you better believe I’m going to try!