Okay, it was awkward and humiliating enough to be in sixth grade let alone be denied the glory of one the most significant demonstrations of mental and physical strength I have accomplished to date. I’m talking about “sitting on the wall” or as some people used to call it back in the day, “Sampson’s Chair” – and I was a champion. If you look beyond the clumsy legs that were at the time too long for my body and the bookworm personality (and also ignore the 70s style angel-sleeve shirt and Tony Tennille haircut), what lurked inside my heart was a 12 year old girl who wasn’t going to give up – NO MATTER WHAT!
My elementary school had an annual Olympics for the 6th graders and I was out to win the wall sit – gymnastics had made my legs pretty strong and I didn’t have any reason to think I couldn’t match the previous year’s record of 25 minutes. Well, I hung in there for 1 hour and 36 minutes until the school nurse made me quit (apparently worried about the Arizona heat and all) . . . . I got my picture in the Tempe Daily News and, more importantly, got out of math and social studies class!
The event was so epic (notice the two boys feeling inferior in the background) that my teacher decided to submit it Guinness Book of World Records (notice the old fashioned typing and air-mail envelopes circa 1978). Anyway, although the record was “impressive,” Guinness did not choose to publish my notarized and media-confirmed “claim” because in 1978 the publisher decided that “wall sitting” didn’t have enough “widespread and preferably international” appeal to warrant creating such an inaugural entry. Well, fast-forward 11 years, I was casually flipping through the famous record book and came across a world record entry for Sampson’s Chair (wall sit) that had made it into print– some guy held the title for about 5 or so minutes LESS than me!
I was robbed and a flurry of air mail letters flew back and forth in protest (this was still before email)! In the end, because my head wasn’t in “exactly the same position” (uh, because I was posing for a picture, duh) my claim couldn’t compare to the record holder’s accomplishment – so they said. Apples to apples, I agree – but, I just think they didn’t want the tough looking dude with a snazzy uniform and digital clock overhead being upstaged by a little girl at recess. Oh well, I’m over it. REALLY – I’m over it, because apparently now the world record for “static wall sit” is over 11 hours!!!! Plus, I still have my trophy – and, it’s a true treasure because it’s from back in the day when kids didn’t get a trophy every time they showed up to be on a team or “participated” in an event. This one was EARNED with burning, quivering quads!
I still like to do this isometric exercise as a way to keep my legs strong for running, CrossFit and our ski trips in the winter. There are a ton of different variations – two of my favorites are Marching Wall Sits and Medicine Ball Wall Sits (above). For this med ball version, pick a ball that you can comfortably handle – probably somewhere between 6 to 12 pounds, depending on your arm strength. Keeping your back straight against the wall and legs bent into a 90 degree angle at the knee (with knees about 2 feet apart), grasp ball and lift straight in front of you with arms straight. Alternate rotating arms from left wall, back to center, and then to right wall. Do as many of these at an even pace as you can while holding the wall sit for 1 minute; repeat for three sets total. As you increase your strength extend the time of your sets – eg. 90 seconds, 120 seconds, etc.
So, are you ready for more? Fitfluential in conjunction with Reebok are having a Wall Sit Challenge for September – it’s not too late to get in on the action! Join the challenge on a special Facebook page and invite your friends – accountability is a huge part of getting through any challenge! There is also a giveaway for a pair of Reebok Nano 4.0s (I review them here) and a Reebok top or shorts. Use hashtag #FFWallSit on Twitter and Instagram to share your hard work and make new fitness friends!
Is this exercise in your repertoire, if not – what is your favorite leg exercise? Have you ever been unjustly treated in a sporting event? Would you just rather sit than wall sit? Let me know in the comments below: