I was feeling as though I had slightly overindulged over Christmas. The combination of lockdown and the poor weather meant that I was less inclined to exercise. I was immensely grateful for the kickboxing sessions over zoom with my friends from the dojo, but I had little motivation to add any extra training to these short sessions. I needed a challenge to not only tackle my expanding waistline but combat my lethargic attitude. In the end, I settled on the challenge of completing one hundred press-ups a day, every day, for at least one hundred days. Maybe even the whole year if I can keep it up.

I chose press-ups for a few reasons. Firstly, I actually enjoy being able to complete a decent press-up and this gave me the opportunity to build on that.  Secondly, I hope to improve the strength and stamina of my punches for kickboxing.  When I tire in sparring, the ability to keep firing out a meaningful jab regardless would be a great asset. Lastly, the exercise not only develops my triceps but works several muscles, including engaging my core.

Why one hundred though?  It needed to be slightly crazy in order to be a challenge, to generate a sense of achievement as I followed this path and to hopefully have a small impact on my body shape.  It also sticks in your mind. If I set the challenge too high, it would feel out of reach and reduce my motivation.  Similarly, too low a target would seem pointless and probably even forgettable.  Some people reading this may think the number I chose was impossibly high, others that it is ridiculously low. The important thing was that it was the right number for me. Plus, it also would help with the maths if someone asked me how many I’d managed so far this year!

I don’t complete all the press-ups in one session. I haven’t been able to yet, at least.  The one hundred are spread across the day, according to how I feel.  It is important to listen to your body. After one week I was starting to feel the tension in my arms and shoulders, so I completed that day’s number in sets of ten with plenty of time in between. When I feel able to, I will push myself to see how many I can complete non-stop. I am up to 42 in a row at the moment but will push myself to go higher when I feel I can.  Most of the time I build up the total for the day in chunks of ten, twenty or thirty, often with hours between those chunks. Being able to keep going with the challenge even on my ‘off’ days is vital for keeping motivation going, as returning to any challenge after a time away can be disheartening.

I didn’t realise at the time, but I had inadvertently set myself a SMART goal (any sort of management training usually covers this at some point – Google it if you need to).  Rather than a vague intention of losing weight over a period of time, or hoping to increase my fitness by a non-specific amount, this was a challenge that was Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and probably whatever R and T are as well. Hopefully this means I will stick to it.

In many ways, this is a silly, little challenge.  Having said that, I can already see it having an effect on both the definition of my arms and shoulders and in my attitude to training.  Me writing this may inspire someone to take a small step towards their next achievement.  Also I hope that it will not only create a change in me physically but also set me up mentally for the next challenge.

No doubt my Sensei will suggest that that one should be burpees!

Pete Bellamy  – Current Blue Belt!