Rising to the Quaker Strong Challenge at PennsteemCreated with Sketch.

in excercise •  7 months ago  (edited)

I am Quaker Strong

It is my honor to announce to the people of the Steem blockchain and the free internet that I am Quaker Strong. To become Quaker Strong, I participated in a challenge hosted by Fitness & Wellness Office of Campus Recreation at the University of Pennsylvania. Victory required completing 10 of 12 activities, which in aggregate encompassed an Iron Man as well as many repetition-based exercise quotas.

After three weeks of activity, we succeeded in our mission of becoming Quaker Strong. The grand prize — bespoke Quaker Strong T-shirts. See the strong (from left to right: @dhimmel, @trang, and Ben H):

Quaker Strong Challenge Victors

How it began

It all began when @trang and I were at the Pottruck Fitness Center to swim laps in an Ivy League Pool. Then we saw a flyer:

Quaker Strong Flyer

We registered and several other friends followed our lead: Ben, Ariel, Michael, Jason. Only @trang, Ben, and I were able to complete the challenge from this group.

Let the activities begin

@trang and I kicked things off on the first morning with a run at our favorite nearby dirt trail: The Woodlands Cemetery, overlooking the rails of Philadelphia.

Quaker Strong First Morning

Daylight savings time had just dropped, so we got some nice sunrises without having to wake up too early.

MVIMG_20190314_065209.jpg

We ran, spun, and biked. The first Saturday, Ariel, @trang, and I biked to Valley Forge and beyond, reaching where the junction of the Perkiomen and Schuylkill rivers.

Bike Ride Zenith Perkiomen Schuylkill Junction

When @trang posted a week one recap, fellow Steem user @remlaps commented on the river confluence:

when I was a kid the best muskellunge (musky) fishing in PA was supposed to be where the Schuylkill meets the Perkiomen. I've been there a number of times, but not recently, and I never caught a musky

Small world! Beautiful winter/spring landscapes continued throughout the challenge. During the second weekend, we ran in Ridley Creek State Park:

IMG_20190323_145547.jpg

On the final weekend, we went on a 26-mile backpacking trip with ultralight Jake near State College, Pennsylvania. Don't look down... the edge of a firetower that was allegedly last operated in the 1940s.

IMG_20190330_122754.jpg

Let me tell you, Jake was a real tick magnet. He contracted 11 ticks (female Ixodes scapularis) in just 20 minutes. I was more restrained with just one!

Many days we went to the gym or did exercises at home. Penn Rec & Wellness also allowed participants to enter some classes, which usually require a gym membership and semester-based surcharge. But not for the strong, who access Pottruck for free. #slickdeal. At the gym we swam, did assisted pull-ups, rowed, and spun.

Results

@trang and I both completed 11 of the 12 categories. The mediation proved two challenging. Frankly, it put me to sleep (don't tell California Cyrus). Here are our personal sheets from the shared Google sheet used to self-report progress:

Results for @dhimmel

DateSquatsSit-UpsPull-UpsPush-UpsSwim (miles)Bike (miles)Run/Walk (miles)Row (meters)Sleep (hrs)Yoga/Stretch (hrs)Meditation (hrs)Water (ounces)
3/11/201930400400.09.56.809.00.250.10101
3/12/2019005600.70.00.030569.50.450.10109
3/13/2019524056500.00.00.012008.00.170.08117
3/14/201900000.00.06.608.00.250.20102
3/15/20190056400.012.50.020118.00.250.17125
3/16/2019000300.060.00.008.00.500.00104
3/17/201930300300.00.00.008.00.080.00101
3/18/2019005600.79.00.022626.50.080.02116
3/19/201930300300.00.00.008.00.000.30101
3/20/20195605600.80.00.022178.50.080.87101
3/21/201950500500.00.00.007.50.020.17101
3/22/201920155600.011.20.023288.50.130.00110
3/23/201900000.00.010.808.00.170.0090
3/24/201950500500.010.00.008.51.000.0880
3/25/201950508800.50.00.020778.00.220.2290
3/26/201900000.00.02.809.00.000.00105
3/27/2019403076300.00.00.008.01.000.17101
3/28/201992950800.00.00.007.01.050.00117
3/29/20190200200.00.02.707.00.000.00101
3/30/20190500500.00.015.007.00.001.00100
3/31/201900000.00.08.709.00.330.2570

Daniel Spreadsheet

Results for @trang

DateSquatsSit-UpsPull-UpsPush-UpsSwim (miles)Bike (miles)Run/Walk (miles)Row (meters)Sleep (hrs)Yoga/Stretch (hrs)Meditation (hrs)Water (ounces)
3/11/201950500500.0009.56.808.50.30.2134
3/12/20190056200.6830030369.50.50.0132
3/13/2019743756600.0000012008.00.10.1165
3/14/2019000200.00006.608.00.30.4128
3/15/201905056720.00013.9007.50.30.2136
3/16/201948630400.00060007.50.10.0112
3/17/201900000.0006.1413.108.00.30.052
3/18/2019005600.4979030236.50.10.080
3/19/201950056500.4970007.50.10.0128
3/20/201956056200.4970040088.50.00.280
3/21/201933030.0000007.00.00.0160
3/22/20190056100.00011.6020108.50.10.0101
3/23/201900000.000010.809.00.10.080
3/24/20195000100.00010008.50.10.0100
3/25/2019808056400.3110018007.00.10.2112
3/26/2019100000.0000009.00.00.0112
3/27/201979217521050.0000008.01.30.082
3/28/201900000.0000009.01.10.296
3/29/201900000.00002.709.01.20.1107.2
3/30/201900000.00001507.00.01.0100
3/31/201900000.00008.709.00.00.0100

Trang Spreadsheet

Survey response

After the conclusion of the challenge, they sent out a survey. I have copied my free-form response below. As you'll see, I really enjoyed the program and opportunity to compete for the title of Quaker Strong™.

I thought the Google Sheet to track progress was a good idea and generally well-designed. However, improvement is possible. Individual sheets should be locked to the participant so others do not accidentally edit them. Additional formatting options should be added to improve the cell display. See the "Daniel Himmelstein" tab for my suggested formatting. The total cells should apply a sequential colormap to visually indicate percent complete, with the title cells changing format when the cell is complete. All time-based fields besides sleep should have their columnar units changed to minutes to enable more natural and precise reporting. Totals can still be converted to hours for display.

Participants should be encouraged to post links (as notes or comments) to their fitness tracking reports. For example, Strava GPS tracks may help inspire other participants on local routes. It would be fantastic to add small social elements like this to the curriculum.

Participants who do not enter any data after 1 week into the program should have their sheet hidden, so as not to clutter to the navigation bar.

The addition of Yoga and meditation classes near the end was great. I think it would be helpful to have meditation classes throughout as this was the most difficult activity for me, and I didn't know exactly how to begin. One highlight of the program was yoga class with Rob H. I think he would be a stellar choice for leading a meditation session for participants.

The rules were generally precise and helpful but could be strengthened in a few regards. I think it is ultimately a poor decision to make commute-based exercise ineligible. There is no clear distinction between what is commuting and what is intentional exercise. By excluding commuting, the rules encourage non-physical alternatives such as car or subway transport. I think the rules should specify that an activity may only count towards a single category at a time. For example, one cannot run & meditate at the same time. The run/walk category should be changed to running, unless the participant is unable to run in which case walking is okay. I think these rule changes would alleviate the need to ban commutes. As it stands by not counting commutes, those who commute in an active manner (biking or running) are penalized.

An intro class on the first day or preceding day should go over the rules and how to perform each exercise safely and effectively. The Quaker Strong themed class was fun, but would be more effective as a general intro session that focuses solely on challenge-eligible exercises and networking with others in the program.

Overall, I thought this was a great program and enjoyed learning more about the offerings of Penn Recreation and Wellness. Happy to recommend the program, and will make sure to spread the word if it is offered again.

Conclusion

May you stay, forever strong!
— Bob-Benjamin Franklin

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Woow! This looks like an exciting challenge. The strength category seems pretty tough, especially those 500 pull-ups. You must be at your fittest now guys, congrats to you both :) Impressive achievement indeed. I recently hosted a pull-up challenge here on Steem and I am planning to run a few more work-out challenges soon, feel free to join them :)

Ah would love to join the challenges. Perhaps tag me in a comment on the next one to increase the odds that we see it!

I think @trang and I will likely want to enter.

Alright, I will :) The next one should be a push-up challenge where each push-up will be rewarded with my 2% upvote until 50 push-ups (100% upvote) but I first need to make sure that I can do those 50 push-ups myself :D Just like I did with my pull-up challenge.

Wow you two are super active! I can never complete the team challenges with our Wellness program. It’s too much exercise! I can maybe do two laps in our pool and pay for it the next couple days after with sore muscles,lol.

Ouch on the ticks. You two have no fear! The view down the fire tower is enough for me to say nope, not for me.

Congrats on meeting and conquering the challenge!

But on the @steemmonsters battlefield you have no fear! I see you're ranked 11th this season.

You know rank is up and down with SM. I get lucky some days but most of the time, it's playing to learn how to beat those new summoners. I keep getting bullied but refuse to buy them, lol. You would definitely rank on top if you play more but being active outdoors is way better!

Exercise Totals

Here are the exercise totals for @dhimmel:

Daniel Quaker Strong Totals

And now the exercise totals for @trang:

Trang Le Quaker Strong Totals

The fire tower is apparently called "Little Flat Fire Tower", but I'm struggling to find detailed historical information to encode in the blockchain.

To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

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@tts, you've got some work to do on reading the markdown tables! Perhaps you should just skip tables.

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