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Strength: undervalued by the weak - Elizabeth Unexplained
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greyautumnrain
greyautumnrain
Strength: undervalued by the weak
This is going to be another one of those posts about how great strength training is, and why its important for women even if they don't realize it.


So, I was home yesterday avoiding the crazy SUV drivers, and I was sitting at my computer, which happens to be in front of a window that looks out onto the front yard. We were all shoveled out at this point, but there was another car parked in front of our house that had not been cleared up until then.

Warren (who also sits near a front window) noticed her first. She was trying to shovel out her car. Unfortunately for her, it was obvious that it was going to be very slow going, even though she had barely started.

Snow shoveling is not what I'd consider a dainty activity. Its more what I'd consider a heaving-heavy-shovel-loads-around type of activity. In fact, the motion I was using to pitch some shovelfuls onto the tops of piles towards the ends are ones that I was copying from watching the athletic events at Highland games. Yet, here was this woman who was taking dainty half shovel-loads of the light powdery stuff and awkwardly walking over to the nearby six foot mound of snow, looking perplexed, and then attempting to pack the snow against the side of the mound rather than heave it on top. It was clear she was going to be in deep trouble if she ever got to the chunky stuff the plows throw up.

Since the whole thing was too painful to watch, and since the car she was attempting to free was an older VW Jetta, and since I'd noticed that this car is usually parked responsibly (i.e. not taking up two spaces), I decided to go help her.

I moved a fair amount of snow and chatted with her. She appreciated the help. I don't think she noticed that I was moving about triple what she was in the same amount of time. I gave up after she was about 75% free because the place where I'd had blood drawn that morning started to bother me, and I belatedly remembered that I wasn't supposed to do heavy lifting that day. While we had been chatting, though, the thing that she had remarked on about my shoveling was not the amount of snow I was loading into my shovel, or the fact that I could deposit it on top of a pile talle than I was, or the fact that I was doing all this faster than she was. Nope, she was impressed because I was shovelling snow in high heels and a skirt.

Now, I didn't help with the shovelling to impress this woman, I did it because I felt sorry for her, and because I wanted to be nice to someone with good parking etiquette. Still, it reminded me that the fact that we humans are bad at seeing our own weaknesses applies to physical weakness as well. In dancing, I am forever noticing dancers with weak feet or with strong feet. I have strong feet, and from talking to other dancers, I've noticed that those who have relatively weak feet just don't seem to notice foot strength. In fact, Warren tells a story about his own foot strength epiphany after he came home sore from his first pro-am lesson with Suzanne; he'd been dancing for years and never realized foot strength was important before that. Similarly, I don't think I'd ever have noticed just how weak the poor dainty shoveller was before I started working on my upper body strength. It seems that strength is largely invisible until you work on it, and then you notice people who don't have it.

Of course, just because you don't notice something doesn't mean its not important. All the top dancers have strong feet. Of course its not the only thing that's important (much as I sometimes wish it were), but weak feet will keep you out of the later rounds at Blackpool for sure. Likewise, upper body strength is important for everybody, much as the culture still seems to persist in telling women that its optional. I suppose that's an improvement on considering it undesireable, but not by much. Sometimes mother nature will dump three feet of snow onto your car. Sometimes you need to put your suitcase in the overhead locker. Someday you may need to pick up and carry a hyperactive two year old. You can hope to get help in these situations, but it seems foolish to count on it, especially when its so very easy to increase your strength.

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Comments
merastra From: merastra Date: January 25th, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hear hear. Strength is fun, strength is good.

So, I never thought about foot strength before (which probably means I have week feet), but what do you get for good foot strength? What sorts of day-to-day stuff can you do or do better?
twe From: twe Date: January 25th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have weak feet. And actually, pretty much weak everything these days.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: January 26th, 2005 07:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Foot strength is great. Where it really shows up is in dancing, but in normal person activities its good for walking faster (because you can roll all the way through your foot and push more with the toes) and it improves your balance a lot. The latter has been really key lately around here.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 26th, 2005 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Another take on being impressed by different things - I think I'm more impressed by people who do things I can't, than by people who do things better than I can. (Hmm. Though I'm also extra impressed by people who do things that I do well, better than me, but that's a different category too).

So, being able to shovel more snow than me - that's just scale. Being able to competently zoosh around in high heels - that's something I can't do, and is more a priori impressive.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: January 26th, 2005 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, here's where I mention the dirty little secret part. Shovelling snow in high heels is actually easier than in regular boots, especially when you're hefting it onto piles that are six feet tall.

I guess the thing that was weird about it was that she was impressed by something I took for granted, not the actually difficult part of it. I think it would be like someone watching you finish up that huge lace tablecloth and being impressed by the fact that you could use a circular needle.
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