Monkey Bars

The monkey bars are not so easy anymore.  Do you remember the last time you tried crossing a ten foot gap by swinging from bar to bar?  I’m pretty sure my two kids have been raised since my last attempt.  In fact, the closest I’ve been to swinging on monkey bars in a few decades has been to hold those kids up to the bars as they worked their way across the first time.

The good news is I don’t have far to fall since my grown height leaves me only a few inches off the ground.  That’s a relief, because it turns out swinging from rung to rung stops after the first swing.  Here is how it went tonight:  Two hands on a bar as far out from me as I could reach followed by a push off with my feet, then grabbing the next bar with my right hand, taking hold and simultaneously letting go with my left hand, reaching for the bar – and immediately wrenching my left hand from its grip as my full weight pulled me to the ground.

I think part of it has to do with the “full weight” being hauled across space, but the other part has something to do with my pathetically underworked arm muscles.  It hurt my hands too, and I was wearing sports gloves!  Blisters I remember, but not the pinching of skin as it bunches up in a desperate grasp.  Golly, this monkey business is going to take some work.

Why am I embarrassing myself (and my teenage daughter if she knew) on this simple childhood feat?  Do I imagine it will bring back pleasant memories of days gone by, youth, and carefree playground adventure?  Am I simply deranged and masochistic?  Maybe the latter has some validity, but my attempt at monkey bars has nothing to do with childhood.  Instead it’s a quest for fitness adventure that led to me signing up for an obstacle course combined with a long-distance run.  Many of the obstacles involve monkey bar style feats, crossing water on ropes, or otherwise hauling myself up and over something primarily using arms and hands. 

Unfortunately, my upper body isn’t as strong as it was years ago.  It isn’t nearly as strong as my determination either.  Crazy or not, signing up for this event will make me take charge of my physical fitness in a new way.  The running isn’t a problem; I spent the last few years becoming a better runner, but no longer will I be able to ignore my extra weight or lack of muscle tone in my arms.  This obstacle course is one way to step into my own challenge to be fit.

Others choose personal trainers, counting calories, and aerobic classes.  I signed up for the Tough Mudder being held in Austin, Texas in October to add some adventure and fun back into my fitness goals.  It’s also my way of setting accountability for me, because the fear of a long painful day and recovery is enough to spur me forward in developing a program that will have me swinging across the monkey bars with ease.

 How can a crazy or risky challenge re-engage you in your goals?

What can you do to set up accountability for yourself?

 There are five months to prepare and now I know my starting point (which is further back than I thought).  Better to know the truth, and be glad there is plenty of time to set up a program for success.  In the meantime, I am going to check out voice activated software.  It may be handy when my hands are blistered and arms are throbbing too much to type.


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