Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Michelle Obama: Arms of a gardener



The official portrait shows her famously toned arms


WASHINGTON (DP) The First Lady's arm exercises were made public today, in an interview to be published in the October issue of Women's Health magazine. In the video below, the Editor-in-Chief and Fitness Editor from Women's Health appear on the Today Show to discuss what they call "the fitness scoop of the century" and demonstrate the exercises:


What is not revealed is that the First Lady's 5:30 a.m. workout often takes place in the White House vegetable garden--and that she is in fact gardening energetically, not doing rote calisthenics.

Those in the horticultural community understood immediately that her publicly-acknowledged "exercises" were code for specific activities in the garden, and that "reps" referred to the number of plants, or bags of soil amendment, she used.

Here is the First Lady's official workout translated into what she probably does when she is alone in the garden:

1. One minute of hammer curls, in which she lifts dumbells toward the body in alternating motions and which should leave her "fatigued".

Clearly the First Lady is holding a one-gallon plant from the nursery in each hand, and lifting her hands alternately, trying to determine which plant should go in which new spot. No gardener needs to be told how mentally and physically fatiguing such a process can be.

2. Triceps pushdown with an overhand grip, pushing down on the t-handle of a 15 pound weighted pulley, for 15-20 reps.

Again, it is easily understood that she is digging a hole with a shovel, pushing down into the soil 15-20 times.

3. Triceps pushdown with a flip grip. The same movement as Number Two, but with the hands turned up.

This "exercise" is familiar to all gardeners: the lifting of heavy bags of soil amendment from ground to waist level, an obvious accompaniment to digging holes.

4. An aerobic finish to her workout is a floor exercise called mountain climbing. The hands are placed on the ground and the feet come forward quickly in an alternating motion. It was noted that this exercise is "not for the faint of heart".

Any gardener would agree--crawling forward in search of weeds is among the most tiring of garden tasks.

A mystery remains. Why don't all gardeners have arms that look like the First Lady's?


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20 comments:

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Nice arms... most gardeners forget to condition their arms with dumbells. aha. ~bangchik

susan morrison (garden-chick) said...

Hmmm, I'm thinking the real entrepreneurial opportunity here is to open a gym with the promise of turning anyone's arms into Obama lookalikes, then basically employ gym members as free garden labor.

I'll let you know when my sign-up sheet is available.

Daffodil Planter said...

Bangchik, That must be my problem!

Susan, You MBAs--always with the business angle.

Grace Peterson said...

Genetics, my friend. I'm sorry but I can't visualize Mrs. Obama gardening without a posse of secret servicemen/women and other assorted staff members at her beck and call. Let's face it. She's royalty. She lives in a different world. Don't get me wrong I have nothing but respect for her and I'm sure she's a hard worker. But it's futile for me to compare myself to someone whose reality is so vastly different from mine. :] But I must be in the minority because the Today people think it's newsworthy.

Daffodil Planter said...

Grace, Maybe you're right--but I'm still tempted to do some reps in the garden for the next week or so and see what happens to my arms. Our First Gardener is certainly doing a nice job of publicizing edible gardens.

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

I'm laughing because I knew Susan (Gardenchick) would be swift to comment on this one.

Janet said...

I believe you have cracked the code of her workout quite well!

Heather said...

I do like those arms although I have dug some serious holes and mine never seem to look like that!

Gail said...

I agree with Grace~~small biceps and triceps are genetic! She's made them cut from working out. I worked my buns off in the gym, but still had my grandmother's arms! Btw, I loved this post! gail

Daffodil Planter said...

Rob, You may be on another continent, but you know your California bloggers well!

Janet, Thank you so much. These scholarly pursuits....

Heather, Maybe if we count out loud while digging we'll get a better result?

Gail, Glad you had fun!

VW said...

I am so impressed with Michelle Obama; the fabulous arms are just icing. What if every woman worked to become as educated as her, and managed to find a balance between career and family (differing as necessary in different stages of life)? What if every married couple worked to support, respect and love each other as the Obamas do, and even enjoyed each other's company? What if all families had dinner together regularly like the Obamas? And of course, what if all our country's children learned the satisfaction and multitude of life lessons to be found while working in the garden beside a parent? I don't agree with all of President Obama's politics, but I am certain that our country is benefitting from his family's good example. I really hope that they can withstand the pressures of the presidency and emerge as strong a family as ever.

Daffodil Planter said...

VW, What a lovely statement! I agree that, politics aside, the Obamas are doing a good job of modeling a sweet family life.

Genevieve said...

Daffodil, you hit it out of the ballpark as usual! LOVE this.

The reason I don't have Michelle's arms is I usually follow up my arm workout/ gardening routine with a pint of Ben and Jerry's. I am certain my fabulous arms are underneath that little bit of extra padding!!

Not that I am complaining. Ben and Jerry are fine companions.

Daffodil Planter said...

Gen, But you could have Thunder and Lightning (the names a conservative columnist gave to Michelle's arms) instead of Ben and Jerry! Think it over--and thanks for laughing.

Frances said...

I adore your explanation of the real workout that results in those guns! Of course we all look just like that right? NOT, but we can dream. And laugh. Thanks for a good one, DP! :-)
Frances

Daffodil Planter said...

Frances, The workout makes a great justification for buying more one-gallon plants--investing in our health?

Red Studio said...

Hammer curls and mountain climbing? I would rather be digging...in hardpan. Michelle Obama is lovely and definitely an inspiration. Thank you for the funny post. Loved the plant weight lifting.

Daffodil Planter said...

Red Studio, Thanks for visiting! I'm enjoying the ads that popped up with this post. Ab City here.

Maranta said...

This is hilarious because my coworkers and I have actually narrated our workday as though we were being filmed for a workout video before - most notably when we had to load and unload 100+ 6 foot arborvitae at a nursery. I think if Michelle incorporated this exercise into her daily routine she might blow right past "toned" and straight on to "uncomfortably ripped" and then we could look forward to a whole slough of congressional hearings regarding whether or not she has taken performance-enhancing drugs. The gardener's workout is not without its dark side!

Daffodil Planter said...

Maranta, With political savvy like that I think you'd better sign on as Horticultural Consultant to the First Lady.

As for the little-discussed Dark Side, see this bit of gardening attire: http://www.threadless.com/submission/40290/Darth_enjoyed_gardening