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PHYSICAL FITNESS IS NOT A FIFTY MILE HIKE .. ! By Glenn Sundby Physical Fi tn ess is not a fifty mil e hike once in a lifetime any· more than most F itness tests without a program are much more than statistics. A fifty mile hike unl ~ss train ed for and practiced with certain regularity only proves the extent some people will go to be a local hero, foll ow a fad or jump on the publicity bandwagon. These once, in a lifetime escapades do however demonstrate the need fo'!: a good personalized Physical Fitness program and the tremendous capabilities of st ress and stra in th e good Lord has endowed in our physica l be in g. I sin cerely doubt that when Teddy Roosevelt set up the sug· gested Marine test hike in 1908 that he expected them to come stumblin g or fall over a predetermin ed fini sh line blistered and p.xhausted ready for a hospit al or rest camp. I'm sure it was more likely that he expected these physically well trained Marin es to be fit and ready for battle if need be. While on thi s subj ect of fitn ess and tests the same conditions you may set up for a ri gger, lumberj ack or telephone lineman may not necessarily apply to a concert virtuoso or a bookkeeper, anymore than yo u might expec t a c!raft horse and a race horse to perform the sa me, Cardiovasc ul ar , respiratory and general well being yes, but not power, speed or agility. Whether house·wife, laborer or executive, one of the real tests of fitn ess is to be able to complete the regul ar tasks of the day and still have energy and condition to do more. If you are u sin g 100 percent of your capabilities at your job you are workin g too hard. You had better get out and join a gym, do some regular home fitn ess exercises or take part in a vigorous sports activity. It just makes sense, if yo u can double yo ur fitn ess capability then your regular work will be twice as easy, or half as hard whichever you may prefer. To cite a personal exam ple on this subj ect of fitn ess, let's go back to December 1949. At that time I was performing in an acrobatic act with my partner and sister at the Shorham H otel in Washin gton, D. C. Our act was working regul arly and had been for yea rs performing difficult routines and trick s th at reo quired better th an average feats of strength and coordinati on, (even for an acrobat ) so I felt I was in pretty good condition. It was under this illusion that I decided to prove somethin g or other by wa lkin g down the steps of the Washin gton Monum ent on my hand s. Well, I made it and got front page pictures in the Washin gton papers and coverage in n ews media across the country. I even ended up in the Sunday co mics in " Ripl ey's Beli eve it or ot" section. What did all thi s prove? It proved to me th at I was neither fit or tra ined for thi s stunt. When I fini shed my hike down 858 stairs (eq uivalent to a fifty story buildin g), I was achin g and exh austed. In fa ct I was una ble to perform my part of our acrobati c trio to any degree of effi ciency th at ni ght or fo r several weeks to foll ow. But th at was not all , it was over a year before I co uld perform the handstand s and lift moves req ui red of me without re·occu rin g severe pa ins in my shoulder muscles. Onl y with tim e and a systemati c tra inin g schedul e wa s I able to recove r com pl etely without any fur th er ill effects. Sin ce my first trip down the monument several others ha've made, attempted and completed this same trip in half the tim e it took me, with no ill effects, th at is other th an to get arrested fo r poor taste in usin g 'a Na tional Monum ent for a publi city stunt. What wa s the d ifference, an d why d id the others do it in less time and with no appar en t ill e ffects? Just this, they train ed for it and were in shape to accomplish it. Please do not ge t me wrong. I think a fifty mile hike is a p;reat idea, in fact I feel th e sam e about a twenty or ten mil e


M .G. Ed itor walking d ow n steps of Wa sh ingto n Monument - 1949

hike. But I do feel one should be in good condition before attemptin g such a trip whatever the distan ce. I have great ad· mira ti on for Robert Kennedy and the physical fitn ess example he set and at th e same tim e I have deep r esp ect for Press Secre· tary Pierre Salin ger who realizing he was not in condition or fit for the task declined to participate. Wha t I am sayin g here has been sa id many times before, " Fitness is not a once a year test but a pa rt of your everyday life." :::




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Profile for USA Gymnastics

Modern Gymnast - January/February 1963  

Modern Gymnast - January/February 1963