Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rest Day Rant 8/19/2009

The unlucky subject of todays rest day rant.

Today's topic is, in short: fuck you, Curves.

I go to the local high school for my track workouts..  Unfortunately, school has started, and that means that on occasion, I will bear witness to the depressing spectacle that is high school physical education.  This past Tuesday was such an occasion.

Man, it was bad.

No one was wearing athletic gear.  The kids clearly didn't want to be there.  The teacher obviously didn't know what she was doing. 

But the inspiration for todays topic didn't come until attendance had been taken and the "exercise" started.  The teacher told the boys to run a lap.  She waited about a minute, and then told the girls they could start walking.


What the fuck?

This pissed me the fuck off.  We live in a society that supposedly stresses gender equality, yet we hold females to a lower standard.  What message are we sending?

I want someone to explain to me how segregation is equality.  I'm pretty sure Brown v. Board of Education took care of that notion.  How are we empowering women by telling them they need their own place to work out?  What are we telling our girls when we say they can't play with the boys?

At CrossFit Monterey, the girls play with the boys.  They lift heavy shit off the ground, they do handstand pushups, and they tear their hands open on the pullup bar.  They aren't expected to lift the same weight as the guys, but they're sure as hell expected to work every bit as hard.  They don't worry what people think of them mid-workout, because they're too worried about getting the damned workout done.

They sure as hell don't walk.


Jay Ashman said...

damn dude, this is perfect, well said....

Jay said...


Points well articulated, and valid, but I must offer a dose of moderation.

Your disdain for phys ed disparity is on the money. Having the girls walk while the boys run reinforces outmoded, inaccurate gender stereotypes, giving boys a false sense of superiority and girls undeserved disregard. As the father of one daughter (soon to be two daughters) this kind of behavior enrages me.

Another thing that troubles me, however, is an attitude I'm recognizing with increasing frequency in our "community" (e.g. the devoted athlete/competitive performance training enthusiast): our growing smugness and sense of superiority.

As an example: I have a neighbor, a portly woman in her early 50s who has never played sports, never exercised, etc. I come home from jiu jitsu and she's often coming home from one of her thrice-weekly workouts at Curves. Am I going to laugh at her and say, "heh, you think you know what a real workout is? You'll always be an overweight introvert unless you start deadlifting and push-pressing!"

Of course I'm not going to do that. For her, a Curves (or Sweatin' to the Oldies or whatever) workout is a major accomplishment. I've seen the results. She's lost a visible amount of weight and is a much healthier, happier person. She's not shredded to ribbons, but she's way ahead of peers who do nothing.

I've played sports since I could walk, and after 10 years of wrestling and football to the collegiate level, jiu jitsu four times a week, Xfit twice a week, marathons and the like, it would be beyond arrogant of me to presume everyone else should be at that level, or even interested in being at that level (and I say this not of performance, but of participation -- I'm a hack and I know it, but I'm too stupid to quit.)

Your rage is understandably stoked; I just ask that you consider tempering it so that everyone feels at least some level of performance is attainable. We can't all be advanced-elite superstars, but we can all do the best that we can do.

Bud always,

Jay Ferrari

Tsypkin said...

Jay, I'm afraid you misunderstand me. My disdain is not for the women going to Curves, not any more than my disdain was for the kids in that class. My disdain is for the groups, companies, and individuals who push these faulty ideas on us. A 14 year old doesn't know better the importance of fitness. Likely neither does your neighbor. I seriously doubt either of them have considered the societal implications of those activities. The person who's responsibility it is to consider those implications is the guide, in this case the PE teacher or personal trainer or Curves franchisee. It IS their responsibility to research independently how best to do their job, and to consider whether doing it in a certain way is the right thing. To do otherwise is not merely negligent but immoral.