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I have compared our challenge workouts previously to recess on the playground of the elementary schools of my youth. There were several of those playgrounds. We moved around some so I was often the new kid. Inconveniently, I was the new kid who was small, uncoordinated, and slow on her feet. You can just imagine how popular I was when teams were picked. The nadir of my athletic career happened in maybe 6th grade, when I was the last one left, and the team captain who had to pick me asked if maybe he could have the wall behind me!
As a result, I really appreciate the social graces which adults employ when they find themselves with a team member who is not the strongest player. When we walked into the gym today, it looked quite festive. Molly had laid out a 3x3 matrix of colorful hoops at one end of the gym. Nearby were 6 pumpkins – 3 tiger striped ones and 3 in traditional solid orange. We were divided into Team Abby and Team Matt. Our warmup was a team tic-tac-toe game, in which a team member would run down the length of the gym with their pumpkin, place it strategically, then return to tag the next team member to place their pumpkin.
This is not a complicated rule-set. But for the life of me, I kept forgetting about the tag-the-other person part of the drill, and my poor teammates had to call my name out each and every time to remind me. I still feel cringeworthily bad about this, as I have long worked professionally in small teams where a cardinal principle is to work efficiently and to avoid the situation where another team member can’t perform because they are waiting for you to finish your thing. This is a principle dear to my heart, and one I have worked under for decades! I have been wracking my brain for a good excuse, but I just can’t come up with one. I was slow, and forgetful, and really fortunate my team forgave me.
From the warm-up, we moved to the main event, called “The Maze Runner” (See what Molly’s doing there? Fall is the time for corn mazes and pumpkins, so we are right with things on this Autumn day!)
There were 6 levels for us to traverse, each with 4 possible exercises. Each exercise was coded to a color, but the color scheme was secret. We were to pick a color, pick an exercise, do it, and then wait patiently in plank position for Molly to come around to tell us whether the one we did was the one which unlocked the next level for our color. The lucky picker could skate through with six exercises, the unlucky one with 24! Except, y’know, we’re here to work out, so having to do a set of something else in order to advance just diversified the workout. I found myself picking among the options, which included 20 reps of Sumo Squat High Pulls, 20 Split Squats (per leg, so that’s 40 for each of us bipeds!), 25 Wall Donkeys, 40 Glute Bridges, in a way to alternate the aerobic ones with the strength ones . I went up a level on the weights today, too. So despite finishing outside of the top 3, I feel like a total winner.
It’s funny how even the slightest bit of competition spices things up for some of us, and amps others up big time. The stakes here are so small, but some people just really respond to the chance to win. It pains me to be the team member whose performance puts victory out of reach, and it makes me glad to be an adult, who has a lot more options with regard to at what level she might choose to compete, or whether to compete at all. My heart goes out to every kid who was picked last this week, and I’d like to assure them, that like so many things, It gets better!
I appreciate the chance to spend lunch hour playing with the Challenge folks who put their heart into winning, (it really would be no fun at all if everyone were to decide they didn’t care!) and remain kind and welcoming to that poor-performing member of the team. I promise, if you start one, I will not go out for your pro pumpkin tic-tac-toe team!
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