If you went to grade school in the 90’s, you may remember encountering a little round blue patch with an eagle on it that looked something like this:
Depending on your interests, how many sports you played, and how many Kraft Handi-Snacks you may or may not have devoured over the course of a weekend Rocko’s Modern Life marathon, that patch would either be placed delicately in your quivering hands like some holy grail of adolescent achievement…or it would be pinned to the Girl Scout sash of your arch nemesis, who God cruelly designed to stand next to you during every significant school event because your last names were one letter off from each other.
Of course, if the latter was the case, you still got some kind of patch–a different color, slightly less epic-looking eagle, cheaper stitching–but we all knew that was the loser patch. The I-could-only-shuttle-that-stupid-eraser-twelve-times-across-the-parking-lot patch. Nobody wanted that one, and if you got it, you solemnly swore to spend every waking moment of your summer break pumping iron and running laps around the block (or, if you had parents like mine, up and down the driveway only) until you were poised to shatter those “presidential” records the following year.
Obviously this experience has left a, shall we say, deep impression on me. There were a couple of years that I got that coveted blue patch, but they were few and far between. I usually found myself mounted squarely in the slightly-below-average range of my peers in the area of physical fitness, a trend that has carried into adulthood. Always ever so slightly overweight for my frame, always tiring out a measly few minutes behind everyone else on the volleyball team. Just far enough behind to see the promised land of athleticism and drool.
Why am I dredging up these childhood memories of V-stretches and pull-up bars? My past month of cleansing and regular exercise got me thinking about the Physical Fitness Test and how I would stack up nowadays. Initially, I was rummaging around Google trying to see if there was a database where I could find my old grade school scores, but I ended up finding something even better:
Oh yeah. That’s right. There’s an adult version! Not only that, but there are guidelines to test yourself at home and an online system to enter in your data so you can see what percentile of the population you rank in for each given category: aerobic fitness, muscular strength, flexibility, and body composition. I took one look at it and knew I had to use this thing to challenge myself. Like I said, I’m about a month into exercising regularly, and although I do love how I feel afterwards, I’m starting to reach that bored phase on some days. I needed a way to spice things up and set measurable goals for myself to keep it interesting, and this seems like just the ticket. I decided before I looked at my score that my goal would be to reach the 75th percentile in all categories. After testing myself yesterday, this is what my chart currently looks like:
The body composition annoys me more than anything, because I’m literally .2 BMI away from the acceptable range, but I still get the “overweight” label and a vague, ominous threat about diseases. I’m going to try my hardest to eradicate that one first. I’m already past the 75th percentile in flexibility (I always owned at that V-stretch thing), but it’s going to be a long way to go in muscular strength and aerobic fitness. Especially push-ups. My guns are more like water pistols.
As for a time constraint, I’d like to reach this goal by my birthday, which is July 18th. The plan is to keep up my aerobic exercise, start incorporating strength training a couple times a week, and re-test myself every three weeks or so to see the progress. And of course, blog about it.
I’m a little sad that there isn’t a patch if you score well on the adult test, though. If they were to design one, I would suggest replacing the eagle with something more like the picture below, because that’s certainly what I’m going to feel like if I’m able to beat this thing.