If you’re a Medill student, you’ve probably seen this Chicago Mag article from March 29 about Dean Charles Whitaker’s daily routine in quarantine. Quick summary for non-Medill students: basically, our dean works out for two hours a day and drinks a mimosa before his first meeting.
As someone who spends too much time on her phone, I saw the article soon after it came out but didn’t really feel compelled to think about it further until I saw this tweet from the brilliant @meganmuncie.
I rarely work out, I hate cardio and I’m in pretty bad shape, but once I saw this tweet, I was inspired to put on my sneakers and become the first NU student journalist to report on what I’m calling the Whitaker Workout.
Dean Whitaker told Chicago Mag, “Now I work out every morning for about an hour and 15 minutes. After a warm-up of running in place and jumping jacks, I do 30 minutes on the stationary bike, followed by crunches, sit-ups, and pushups. I do curls —four sets of 20 reps with 40-pound dumbbells —as well as four sets of 20 reps of kettlebell swings for shoulder development.”
Now again, I do NOT work out. I don’t like getting sweaty. Since I spend all day hunched over my computer like a little gremlin, I try to do around 10 minutes of yoga or stretching in the morning so my body doesn’t ache all day. But that’s the extent of my daily exercise routine, so I expected this to go pretty terribly.
When I woke up, my lovely roommate Sarah Eisenman gave me her FitBit, and I measured my heart rate to get a baseline. My resting heart rate is around 80 beats per minute. To compare, at peak workout, my heart rate got up to around 170 beats per minute. According to the American Heart Association, resting heart beats should be around 60-100 beats per minute, and while exercising, the target heart rate zone is around 100-170 beats per minute depending on whether you’re aiming for moderate or vigorous activity.
I started off the workout with 10 minutes of stretching then did the Whitaker Warmup for about 10 minutes (sorry to my downstairs neighbors for doing so many jumping jacks). After the warmup, I walked quickly for 35 minutes on my roommate’s treadmill, aka my stationary bike substitute. I call it my roommate’s treadmill since I’ve only been on it once before today. This part was way more painful than I expected, but if you exercise at all, you would probably be fine. I tried to distract myself from the fact that I was still exercising by watching Attack on Titan.
I was so excited to get off the treadmill and do crunches, mostly because that meant I got to (kind of) lie down. The crunches and sit-ups weren’t awful, but it turns out I have no upper body strength. I did a couple bad push-ups, a few push-ups on my knees, and when I tried to do another full push-up, I fell down. I struggled with crunches and push-ups for about 10 minutes before deciding it was onto weights.
Since I don’t own 40 pound dumbbells (not that I would be able to lift one), I used a mostly functional resistance band from Five Below to do the curls. I also used the resistance band to do shoulder presses, which were much harder than I expected. I couldn’t do 20 shoulder presses at a time, so I started doing sets of five and ended up losing track of how many I ended up doing. In other words, Charles Whitaker could beat me in a fight (but based on our vastly different workout regimes, we probably already knew that).
Yes, Dean Whitaker does a nightly workout, too. “Before I go to bed, I do a scaled-down version, sans weights — about 30 to 45 minutes of sit-ups, pushups, and biking,” he told Chicago Mag.
This round wasn’t quite as bad, probably because I was more awake and it was shorter. I watched another episode of Attack on Titan while on the treadmill, and I was alright during the sit-ups. But the push-ups really got me. I couldn’t even do push-ups on my knees, so I gave up and just did a few standing push-ups against the wall.
I have no idea why my peak heart rate was lower in the evening because I walked at the same speed on the treadmill. Is this me already getting into shape? Probably not, but I can only hope.
The Next Day:
In case you were wondering how I felt when I woke up, my body is sore in places I didn’t know muscles existed. I feel like a limp noodle.
All in all, I could do the shorter routine consistently. It would definitely be good for me, but instead, I think I’m going to keep watching anime in bed and take a nice long walk to get my COVID test so I actually get fresh air.