Last week, Michelle Obama went where many people and former First Ladies would never think to go: To the floor to do push-ups. While visiting Cape Town, South Africa last week, she kicked around a soccer ball and then dropped and did push-ups with Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Even though Mrs. Obama was simply practicing what she preaches in her Let's Move! campaign, it still seemed a bit surprising to see her break a sweat.
But it's also awesome. I love that she's the kind of person who doesn't have any inhibitions about dropping to the floor and doing 20 ... with an Archbishop, nonetheless! And it's not just about the fact that she worked out during an international goodwill trip while sporting one of her signature, brightly colored dresses and the cameras were snapping. It's awesome, because the push-up itself is an intimidating beast of an exercise.
My boyfriend actually has the Perfect Push-Up (of infomercial fame), and it's definitely a conversation-starter when we have guests over. One of my friends visited a while back and noted that although she's a gym rat these days, she can't wrap her head around doing more than one or two "regular" push-ups in a row. I dropped to the floor and did maybe 10 -- which didn't seem like much, because Jillian Michaels has you doing way more than that in her workout DVDs I love -- and my friend was blown away. But, wait, really?! That's a big deal?
I guess it is. Maybe it's because push-ups (and squat thrusts, ugh, and climbing the rope and running a mile) were a staple in our torturous grade school gym classes. Or maybe because they seem so boot camp-y. But some of us are deathly afraid of doing them. Or figure they're just for body-builder types. Or simply believe there's no way in hell we can do them, even if we tried. Famous trainers know this, because they always give us a "girl version," or "modified" on-your-knees push-up option, in workout DVDs.
And come on, that's just silly. We can all do regular, full-plank push-ups! Our fears are unfounded! And the pay-off is awesome. I knew a woman who had these awesome cut upper arms, and she always looked amazing in sleeveless tops. When asked what her secret was, she said she just does a ton of push-ups in the morning every day. (Granted, the woman also has great genes and is a former professional dancer, but her devotion to push-ups is still aspirational.)
Besides pretty upper arms, there are a ton of benefits from push-ups. They'll strengthen the chest, upper arms, forearms, and wrists, as well as the core, which can help stabilize your back and increase your metabolism. Sounds like we would all do well to take a tip from the First Lady, and just go for it.
What do you think about Michelle Obama doing push-ups in Africa? Do you do push-ups as part of your fitness regimen?
Image via Charles McCain/Flickr