Debate Magazine

P90x & the Great Wall of China

By Pomozone @pomozone

Any compelling proof I need for the science of P90X is in the Great Wall of China. I cajoled Gordon Laurie, British jujitsu enthusiast and Washington-Lee High School's Assistant Principal in Arlington, Virginia to take the difficult route along the Wall in the hour or two we had to engage this once-in-a-lifetime experience. P90X & THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA553 steps. That is how many steps I lasted. Taking off at a brisk climb, I began to slow down within 100 steps, taking generous breaks every fifteen or twenty thereafter. By the time I had scaled the first two levels, my triceps (of all muscles) were given over to involuntary spasms, and the innermost part of my vital organs felt like I had been wrestling 10 minutes past the 3-minute limit. P90X & THE GREAT WALL OF CHINAI sat down by a tower on the second tier to catch my breath. But my breath never came. It wasn't my breath. It was my life. I felt dried inside. My muscles had rebelled and were doing silly jigs that would have made me laugh had laughter even been a recollection of my human experience at that point.Gordon Laurie, empathized with me for a few minutes, recovered, and proceeded to the next tier. Watching him climb, getting smaller and smaller, almost made me retch. I had been a gymnast for well over 25 years, lifted weights, yada yada. So what was my problem?As best as I can understand, controlled, organized workouts in air-conditioned gyms isn't a value system that works on the Great Wall of China. My pommel horse routine just didn't come in handy for the duration of my climb. I might have somewhat been prepared were I to have worked out on a pommel horse that constantly and randomly changed angles as I executed circles and scissors. Or I might have been prepared were I to have run laps on a track that randomly changed shape, inclining and declining unpredictably. P90X & THE GREAT WALL OF CHINAI noticed that the creators of the Great Wall used series of uneven steps. Sometime they were steep. Then they would be cut in half. Then they would only be a few inches high but long. Whatever the case, the rhythm was uneven and disallowed your body to strike a projected stride. That didn't include the non steps that still sloped upwards at a deceptively steep incline. I have 17 steps in my house from the first to the second floor. What I climbed was almost 33 stories of uneven, muscle-punishing steps.  So if anyone wants to criticize P90X, I suggest you consider the angle. Literally. 

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