The Cameron chin-up challenge

By John Lewis

Lockdown Life

By Taryn Cameron

My sisters and I woke up one morning to our mother’s announcement that we were going to have a lockdown chin-up challenge inspired by having watched Australian Ninja Warrior.

This would involve doing three chin-ups, three times a day, and then after three weeks, four chin-ups, three times a day.

Having not attempted a chin-up in yonks, I thought, yeah right, okay.

There’s not much involved, just hang and then go up and down, that’s one done. As for three, I mean, only three? Are you sure, Mum? Isn’t that a bit easy?

I was in for a brutal shock.

On my first attempt, I reached up to the bar, took hold with both hands and kicked my feet off the ground so I was in the hang position.

From there, I told my arms to lift. I squeezed the bar, gritted my teeth, called upon Lord Baby Jesus — but the stubborn blighters refused to listen.

I tried again: ‘up’ — nothing. I was just hanging, feet suspended while a deep burn started to set in. The hands, oh the poor hands, they burned like the devil himself had dipped them in the flames of hell, while the brain begged for mercy.

I was desperate. My three onlookers grew impatient. "What are you waiting for?" one asked. "Shut up,” I wanted to say.

Had they any idea of the torment I was in? Every muscle screamed in agony and my mental capacity was at its limit. The ground looked all too inviting, a mere few centimetres away. It almost whispered to me, "Taryn, come back to me, there is no pain and torture down here. All you have to do is release your burning fingers …”

But Taryn is no quitter. I resorted to the only option I had left: create a life or death situation. The corridor in which the chin-up bar hangs morphed into a slow-moving river and the chastising crowd of my mother and sisters became the crocodiles waiting impatiently for my feet to hit the water. Their jaws were snapping and boy were they irritated and hungry.

These heightened stakes created juice in my arms I didn’t know I had and slowly, very slowly, I rose to the top of the bar.

It was painful and psychologically and physically bruising. But when my feet touched down, they hit solid floor and the three crocodiles became my family once more.

Pleased as punch with myself, I turned around to receive my hard-earned congratulations. Standing there like the three judges from MasterChef analysing a dish, my family judged my chin-up.

My sister looked unimpressed. She swung her arms in exaggerated circles to prime them for her set, no doubt thinking she was going to show us how it was done.

“Is that all you can do?" she asked.

I was about to answer the affirmative, but my mother piped up before me.

“No,” she said. "She’s still got two more to go!”

Surely not.