The calliper challenge

THE final countdown has begun. With the great stair climb now dauntingly close, fear has given way to real concern about my competitive ability.

There’s the small matter of my pride. I’m now less worried about the pain and more worried about looking stupid and coming last, in that order.

After just three weeks of irregular exercise I don’t seem to have made any real progress in my uphill ability.

Concerned my poor performance in the group training activities wasn’t humiliating enough, I was summonsed to the gym early one morning last week for a fitness test.

I didn’t know a lot about this test but I assumed it would be an uncomfortable series of endurance activities designed to push my body to the very limit.

Faced with a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer I realised with new hope there was still the possibility I was harbouring a rare and previously undetected heart condition that would prevent me from ever exercising again.

Little did I know the fitness test would reveal some far more worrying statistics.

For, hidden in the corner, leaning against the wall in the dark shadow of the exercise bike waited the callipers.

The last time I had a skin fold test I was about 15 years old and I struggled to pinch enough skin underneath my arm to register a reading.

Ah how kind the years have been and how appalling to have someone I barely know grab the great unsightly rolls of flesh that cover my athletic form.

And try as I might, the tricks that had helped me shimmy into many a snug evening outfit were no match for the evil silver jaws of the callipers.

The truth was laid bare.

Finally, following a series of complicated mathematical calculations, my fitness was reduced to a two decimal figure. It’s official I’m just above average.

Based on this analysis, I figure the stair climb should take me about 40 minutes.

About the same as a circuit class, just in a concrete stairwell going up.

And if I can keep the claustrophobia at bay I might just make it. Then again, medical certificates are pretty easy to come by I hear.

I feel like I need something other than the lift to fall back on for this challenge.

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