The Allure of the Pull-Up

Can you remember gym class in, say, eighth grade? Everyone was made to hang onto a freestanding pull-up bar and do “as many pull-ups as possible.” I put that last bit into quotes, because I don’t recall anybody doing any. It was like saying “jump to the moon and back as many times as possible.”

Nobody felt bad that they couldn’t do pull-ups, because nobody else could. (I should say that, due to scheduling, all of the music nerds in my high school had gym class together.)

Then, years later, I joined the National Guard and went to basic training. Fortunately, we were not required to do pull-ups to get out of basic training (you had to be able to do push-ups, and I would have lost sleep over it, if I hadn’t been exhausted every night) but there was another one of those freestanding pull-up bars.

Watching a lot of the other trainees bust out five or even ten pull-ups, I have to say that I no longer felt like I was normal in my inability.

Since then, though I’ve remained unable to perform even a single pull-up, it’s been one of the “milestones of manhood” that dangles in front of me every time I think that I’m ‘fit enough.’

I’ve run a marathon. I’ve run several half marathons. I can do more pushups now than I could in the Army. I like to think I’m ‘fit enough.’

And then, I remember that I can’t do a pull-up.

While I think about how I can get in shape for that, let me leave you with this.