Marty tests his strength

Marty is an Inuit, or what we used to call Eskimo. He lives in a village in Canada. His grandfather lived the true Inuit life – travelling across the Arctic wastes, searching for polar bears and seals. His father knew a lot about Inuit life; he had been born in a village in Northern Canada. He had hunted with packs of dogs but he had never lived in an igloo nor a tent made of skins. His home was made of concrete blocks, like all the village houses.

Marty enjoyed hearing about Inuit life. His father was an electrical engineer. He would make sure all the phone lines were in good repair. After storms and blizzards Marty’s dad would go out with chains on his wheels and fix fallen lines. He was an important man in the village.

When winter turns into spring, the days start to become longer in the Arctic. The sun appears and starts to warm the land. During these times Marty’s father would suggest a trip out with the dogs for a bit of seal hunting. They would use Marty’s uncle’s dogs as they no longer kept their own.

One day they packed their equipment for a weekend trip and Marty, his dad and his uncle set off to the pack ice to look for seals. Even in modern times their meat is valued and the skin is very useful for making articles of clothing. They carried their ice cutting tools as they planned to make an igloo for the weekend.

Marty had heard about how you make igloos, but had never actually made one himself. His dad said it was a skill that all Inuit needed to learn. It was a survival skill which in their cold, hard land, could come in very useful sometimes.

If you wanted to go hunting you had to travel great distances over the ice to catch anything. Animals travelled far and wide on the icecap and you had to follow them to track them down. Of course these days modern tents can be used if you stay out overnight, but they are expensive and can be ripped open by polar bears. The old bear seems to avoid igloos and they are warmer to sleep in too.

On this occasion Marty’s uncle was showing Marty how to make the igloo. His dad was off tracking. The two were cutting up blocks of ice with the special ice saw. It was hard going. Marty had thought his uncle was an old man, and was surprised at how much stronger he was than Marty himself. Cutting the ice was tiring and lifting the blocks into position was difficult. They were heavy. Marty was not very used to hard work. He began to realise how little he actually used his muscles and his body in his own daily life. He never walked very far. In the winter when it was dark for most of the day his body became very lazy. He played on his computer, watched TV and did his school work. He was in the basketball team, but everyone seemed to lose interest in the dark months. It was almost like they were hibernating – sleeping a lot like the old grizzly bear.

His uncle was a carpenter. He worked hard, winter and summer on his wood. He liked to saw by hand when possible. That way he said, his body stayed strong. Certainly it was much stronger than Marty’s body.

“What’s the matter with you, boy” asked his uncle as the lad dropped the ice saw on the ground and sat down heavily.

” I need a rest, Uncle Pete, my arm won’t saw any more.”

The older man grunted. “We’ve hardly started and you want a rest already?”

“It’s alright for you, you’re used to sawing, I’m not.”

“Well, help me set these blocks in place, then. That will rest your sawing muscles.”

Half heartedly Marty stumbled to his feet. He could hear the irritation in the old man’s voice. Marty thought he ought to be able to do better than he had. He was embarrassed.

Uncle Pete reached in his pocket.” Here, have some chocolate. It’s not as good as seal blubber but it will give you some energy. “

Gratefully Marty bit off a large chunk. He felt more like working now. He struggled to lift the first block. Uncle Pete had to help him. Together they made the beginnings of the wall. It was slow going. Marty was shocked at how little he could do. He had heard that two people could construct an igloo in a couple of hours. There was no way he and Uncle Pete could do that. He had to keep resting. Uncle Pete did most of the work. He wanted to help but he was just not strong enough.

Finally after about five hours the igloo was built and Marty’s dad returned empty handed. The three sat inside the igloo and discussed the day’s work. Marty admitted to his dad how little he had been able to do.

” I wanted you to find that out for yourself,” said his dad. ” You have to keep using your body, making it work, winter and summer. Otherwise when you need it, it will let you down. That’s why we like wrestling so much. It can be done in a small space. It’s cheap and it requires strength and agility. You don’t need daylight to do it. Computer games are all very well, but they are not like the real thing. All you have been exercising is your thumbs and fingers.”

Now Marty understood why his dad had been against him spending so much time on this computer. His body was losing out and he could feel it. He decided he’d do something about it as soon as they returned to the village. He offered to help Uncle Pete in his woodshed and signed up for the wrestling practise nights twice a week in the village hall. Marty’s friend Bill agreed to do the same. They would both get fit together, and then they’d be ready for anything.


  1. Does this story remind you of anything in your life?
  2. Why is important to keep your body fit and strong?
  3. What kind of things can happen if you do not exercise your body enough?


You need strength, stamina and suppleness.

You may not be able to use your body for ordinary jobs which require a little strength, e.g. carrying heavy things, lifting things.

You will find that you may easily hurt yourself, strain muscles, sprain joints, run out of energy, be short of breath, not be able to keep up with others.

You may feel lazy and sleepy like a much older person.

It’s harder to have fun when you are unfit!