Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weird Childhood Histories, Part 1


My current height of five-ten-ish almost exactly matches my height from 1999 (and every year in between then and now), when I was 14. Doing all my vertical growing in this short time period gave me a real edge on the basketball court, where I took advantage of those short, unbearded boys. It's no coincidence that the absolute prime of my athletic career stretched over the summers of '99-'00, before all those little boys somehow outgrew me. Around 10th grade, I found myself stuck in the unenviable position of being an undersized power forward in the ultra-competitive Yeshiva League. I attribute the moderate functionality which defined my high school basketball career to the length of my arms. They're longer than they, by rights, should be. It's generally assumed that your height (in inches) should equal your wingspan (also in inches). I would be willing to wager an ice cream that my wingspan is greater than the 70 or so inches of my height. I would tell you a more precise measurement if I wasn't now in Denver, lacking a tape-measure and any acquaintance of more than three days (that would be a fun ice-breaker: Hi, nice to meet you. Want to measure my arms?).

In my elementary school we had these annoying little annual government mandated fitness tests, where we had to do things like run a mile in less than eight minutes or do as many pull-ups as we could before our arms fell off. My favorite--by far--was the flexibility test. We had to sit down on the floor of the gym, spread our legs out to the sides in a vaguely V shape, and reach forward as far as possible. You were given a score measuring how far your fingers reached past your feet. Some of my friends couldn't reach all the way to their feet, for which they earned a score of like -2 inches, leading me to make fun of their negative flexibility. There were some girls, obviously, who were actually flexible, did full-fledged splits, and turned in a good reach. I liked this test the best because it was the only one I ever actually passed. I was just as inflexible as all the rest of the boys--probably even more so, in terms of real-life flexibility--but, thanks to my arms, I was able to consistently attain scores in the +3 to +6 range.

The Coors Fitness Center of the University of Denver offers classes in such fields as: Core-Ruption, Ab Blast, Power Sculpt, Kick Boxing, and Vinyasa Yoga (I'm not sure why, but I get the sense that all that training Batman does with Ras Al Ghoul in the snowy mountains was some form of Vinyasa Yoga). I'm not going to try any of those classes because they would probably kill me. But I did attend yesterday morning (at 0730h) a class entitled Intro To Yoga (every initial letter of every word in every class title is capitalized in the Summer 2008 Coors Fitness Center Schedule). It turned out that this class was taught by a sub. The class behaved pretty OK, but the instructor was more of a pilates person, so we ended doing that (not that I would have realized the difference). No one there was fooled by the length of my arms. Even the old guy on the far left side of the studio was way more flexible than I. I haven't been this sore in awkward muscles since trapeze school.

1 comment:

joshua said...

Did you also have your beard at 14?

You forgot 03-05, when you dominated the Gush Intermural Basketball League.

Also I'll take the ice cream bet, although I could see Ben Wallace (now of th Cavaliers) having a larger wingspan than height, his knuckles practically drag on the ground.

Speaking of Denver, what happened to the Rockies? Did Tulowitzky going dow hurt them that badly?

I never passed those fitness tests, I never even got a "participant award", it took me a half hour to "run/walk" the mile, gym class ended in the middle and they made me come back after school to finish.

No way Batman ever did Yoga, not that he couldn't if he wanted to.