Recent debate regarding the issue of U.S. female Marines and physical requirements has created quite a stir within the pole and aerial community. The issue presented as female Marines did not meet the physical requirements by a given deadline date after training measures had been implemented. The results- 55% of female Marine recruits could not pass a three pull up requirement (CNN News Media Source, January 3, 2014).
As a loyal pole and aerial fitness patron, when I first heard this startling statistic I found myself asking why not? Isn't being in the service a physically demanding job? Aren't there training measures in place that fully equip both men and women for the physical aspects required of their job? It didn't make sense to me. I've been teaching for four years now in the aerial arts. I've had my share of experience with female students who have little upper body strength. Within a month, the majority of my students are pulling their own body weight up poles as they climb. How did the U.S. Marines fail so many women in a 12 week training that is designed to create results for increased strength and endurance? I think the answer to this requires a reassessment of the training course. What are the priorities of the current training in place? What activities are being implemented and overall what results would one expect as opposed to the results being seen?
Going back to my experience in pole and aerial fitness, I found myself contemplating how progressive my fitness activity has been for me and so many of my past and present students. Looking back to my younger days in school physical education classes, I remember every class participant both male and female got a chance at the pull up bar. In fact, back then (circa early 1990s) I was one of the top pull up contenders in my class. I had a smaller stature and less weight to move. As I got older, my ability to do a pull up decreased until I began working on the pole in 2008. The argument that men and women are physically built different doesn't really make a lot of sense to me in this debate. Yes, I agree men are more developed in certain areas of their body that make doing pull ups easier. However, women can just as easily develop these areas in their own body to do pull ups.