July 5th, 2010
Haven’t had anything for my THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL ME category in a while…

… and this seems right for it.

There’s no smog or honking in this commute. And the only rushing Ty Hopkins hears is the creek flowing alongside him as he pedals up and down the winding canyon roads. Sometimes, his iPod keeps him company, while other times, he quietly soaks up the early morning sun as it trickles through the treetops.

Just a simple morning bike ride.

A “simple” 36.75-mile-with-an-11-mile-uphill-climb-from-American-Fork-to-Provo ride. No biggie.

… [A] 39-year-old father of four girls and an associate professor in exercise science at BYU, [Hopkins] has always been a mountain biking aficionado, but he wasn’t really a cycling fan until he discovered that road bikes offered an incredibly convenient way to combine triathlon training and commuting.

So in the summer, rather than drive the 30 minutes from his American Fork home to his Richards Building office, he bikes it — just call it the 140-minute Alpine Loop extreme nature commute…

July 31st, 2009

Another entry in UD‘s series, That Which Does Not Kill Me.

At 5-feet-0 and 107 pounds, Melina Bell looks more like, say, a college philosophy professor than a champion bodybuilder.

As it happens, she’s both. And to prove it, Bell just won a major bodybuilding title to go along with the several scholarly papers she has written on the philosophy of women’s bodybuilding.

An assistant professor of philosophy at Washington and Lee University, Bell just won both the Open Lightweight and Open Overall titles at the 30th Annual IART (International Association of Resistance Trainers) Hercules Bodybuilding Championships Pro-Qualifier. This qualified her as a WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) pro bodybuilder…

After finishing second in her first two regional contests, Bell asked the judges what she needed to improve on for the next contest. “They told me certain areas to work on with my physique. So I worked on those areas and made great progress. Then after the third contest, again coming in second, I asked the judges for more input, and they said ‘You should really consider putting some pads in your top to give yourself a more feminine figure. And have someone help you with your hair as we really don’t like the way you’ve done it.’”…

[She has been invited to] write an essay on gender norms and women’s bodybuilding, titled “Is Women’s Bodybuilding Unfeminine?,” for the forthcoming book Strength and Philosophy

July 27th, 2009
That Which Does Not Kill Me…

Second in a University Diaries series featuring professors.

(First That Which Does Not Kill Me here.)

Today’s TWDNKM:


At first glance, math and the martial arts do not seem to have much in common, but for Pat McDonald, professor of mathematics at New College, the similarities are obvious.

“In both cases there are fundamental skills that you need to know,” said McDonald, 45. With a firm understanding of the basics, you then “chain the fundamentals into more complex and intricate patterns in order to succeed.”

McDonald, who got his doctorate in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is not just at the top of his field in mathematics. He is also a pan-American champion in Brazilian jujitsu.

He says he became interested in Brazilian jujitsu about seven years ago while working out at the fitness center in New College. “There were usually a few people in jujitsu outfits and one time I was challenged to grapple, in a submission match.”

McDonald says he thought he was doing pretty well at first.

“I dropped the guy and had a choke on him. I noticed he was changing color. I asked him if he was OK. Then the next thing, I was tired and my face was on the mat and my arm really hurt.

“I thought it was a fluke and demanded a rematch. The same thing happened, and I was hooked.”

It turned out the man he was grappling with was Derek Taaca, a world champion purple belt.

In March, McDonald won first place in the Senior Three Lightweight Brown Belt Champion in Brazilian jujitsu at the Pan-American games in Los Angeles.

McDonald had to bow out of the next competitions, including the World Championship in Brazil, because of a broken thumb and a bleeding intestine.

The internal bleeding happened while he was training.

“I had my opponent in a triangle choke,” he said. “He tried to escape by forcing his hand between my legs. I moved to relieve the pressure and his hand jammed against my abdomen. It was very painful.”

He went to the hospital, where doctors found blood in a cavity between his abdominal muscle and the small intestine. The doctors treated him with strong antibiotics and monitored the injury…

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