Tests of Strength
Around 1985, I had been given to believe that I was physically weak, like a woman. Wondering how true this was, I bought a book that outlined tests of physical fitness for women. I found a series of seven tests, and decided to compare myself with the average woman of my size. I was 5’-10” tall and weighed 150 pounds.
The book had a prescribed number of repetitions, a distance or a duration for each of the tests, depending on the kind of test, as, push-ups, jumps, chin hangs, etc. I considered the prescribed number a score, so that if I did exactly what the book specified in any test, I would credit myself 100%. If I did half, I would give myself 50% and so forth,
Since there were seven tests, the total ideal score would be 700. If I scored 700, I would consider myself equal to a woman of my size.
I scored far less than 700. So I invented the idea of effective height. I presumed that I could find a height at which I could score 700 with my present strength, my whole body being reduced proportionally.
Most of the exercises involved a weight and a distance. For example a push-up amounts to raising a certain part of one’s total weight a distance proportional to one’s height. One’s weight, if taken as proportional to one’s volume, is then also proportional to the cube of one’s height. Therefore, a push-up is a measure of energy expended or work done, which is proportional to the fourth power of one’s height.
For example, suppose I scored 600 instead of 700, my effective height, ‘h’, would be related to my true height, ‘H’, by the following equation:
h = H x (600/700)^.25 = 70” x .9622 = about 67”
In that case, I would have been the equal of a woman about 5’-7” tall, which was not too bad. If I had scored 500, 400, 300 or 200, my effective height would have been approximately 5’-4”, 5’-1”, 4’-8” or 4’-3”. So I was really annoyed to find that my score of 120 corresponded to an effective height of 3’-9” and an effective weight of about 40 pounds.
This height and weight combination is comparable to
that of a very tall five-year-old girl. The comparison is slightly skewed because the average five-year-old girl has a height-weight ratio different from that of a grown woman, but you can still see my place in this CHART.
Since I had had to resort to calculations, I assumed
that there may have been a fallacy somewhere, but subsequent experiences taught
me that those figures were accurate and firm. I tested myself dozens of
times bu always got the same results. The only change was a slight downward trend over the next few years.
A year or so after the confrontation with Olivia, a group of young women invited me to join their exercise class each morning. I had never had such an invitation before.
Perhaps, despite the results of my tests, I still thought of women as the weaker sex, by dint of habit. But the first day we all exercised together, it was obvious to me and to everybody that I was the class sissy. Each of the women seemed to be 5 or 10 times as strong as I. I simply couldn’t believe it.
Anyway, Pamela, one of the two young ladies who directed the exercises always had her two daughters, six and seven, with her. They exercised too, but apart from the grown women. Pamela would pause briefly, instruct her daughters and then return to the grown women.
I noticed that the two young girls exercised in what seemed to me a very sensible way, and I felt that if I exercised with them instead of the grown women, I could offer more genuine competition.
I was too embarrassed to ask Pamela to let me exercise with her daughters at that time, but I was hoping that eventually we’d have enough rapport so that I could ask. Unfortunately, I left the vicinity shortly thereafter and never go to test my hypothesis.
Still, I understood that my experience in the
exercise class confirmed my test scores. I was only as strong as a little girl.