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Our interview with the world record holder for the Longest Plank

Danish Fitness instructor Tom Hoel has regained the world record for holding himself in a “Plank” position. Tom held this gruelling fitness position for an incredible 4 hours and 28 minutes, beating the previous record by 2 minutes. We managed to get in touch with Tom and he kindly answered a few questions for us. Hi Tom! Congratulations on the record from all of us at Firstaid4sport and thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a bit about your background? Who is Tom Hoel? I´m 52 years old, educated schoolteacher with major subjects in sports and media/communication. I have a gymnastics background and hold a national championship in competitive aerobics (FISAF ´97) in mixed pairs, 14th in the world championships that year. I have a passion for Group X teaching and have more than 10,000 classes in “the book”. I own and manage Aerobicgarden, small in square feet (2400) but big when it comes to the quality of the instructor team. This is not to make this into a large selfie, but myself and my wife Kirsten (she’s the real boss of the club) are putting all our effort and energy in the club. (Research the Danish fitness market and you will find one big player running more than 130 large semi budget clubs with a very aggressive attitude to the market, combined with a large growing tendency of state subsidised fitness clubs), this puts the small number of surviving single clubs under a big strain. Good for the quality but tough for making the economical ends meet. I have been in the Group X business since 1990 and have developed a variety of very physically demanding sports, marathon running, and windsurfing, a bit of kayak and canoeing, mountain biking and so on. When did your plank training begin and what made you think to go for the World Record? The Plank training started when the big club chain moved into our village. I started a CrossFit class (just once week) and made it my own personal mental fight for survival. A part of the exercise in the class was Planking. A couple of years later I got involved with Xerciselab from California (do some research, they´re supercool). I went to California two times and went through their instructor training, and a part of that was physical testing. This consisted of a 2 mile run (< 16 min), then a 2 minute break, 50 push ups in 2 minutes, then a 2 minute break then 5 minutes of Planking to finish. Two years ago I was testing myself at home and made an impressive 8 minute Plank and held the club record for 6 months. Then a girl did an 8 minute Plank and then it took off. In January 2014 I started progressing my Planking time every Friday with 5 minutes. In April 2014 I did an hour and the idea of breaking the world record was born. June the 13th 2014 I pushed the existing record from 3 hours 7 minutes to 3 hours 8 minutes. But I was motivated and from July 2014 until now I’ve been working on last week’s attempt. What preparation have you done in the run up to the challenge? My preparation has been structured, progressing the total plank time per week from 5 hours in July 2014 to 10 hours January 2015. The last 4 months I’ve been progressing, slowly in January and half of February and aggressively in March and April. The last 10 weeks looked like this 8 hours – 10 hours – 8 hours – 12 hours – 8 hours – 14 hours – 8 hours – 16 hours – 8 hours – 18 hours. Did you suffer any setbacks during your preparation, how did you overcome them? No real setbacks. I have had some soreness in the lower back and in my shoulders but I have a physiotherapist and a chiropractor as personal friends and they have helped me a lot. How did you feel on the day of the challenge? Excited? Nervous? Confident? Did you ever start to struggle? On the day of the attempt I was quite nervous and had a serious problem with my towel that suddenly went slippery. Actually I had a two hour crisis where I stopped believing in reaching my goal. I started arguing with myself and made the strategy of finishing the song I was listening to before quitting. And at a certain point I realised that my major problem was mental. My body was extremely tired, but the lack of trust and commitment was the real problem. I decided to take a look at the time and made the decision that if I was under or just reaching 3 hours I would stop. The time was 3 hours 41 minutes and from that point I realised that what seemed to be impossible was in reaching distance. The last 47 minutes was a physical fight which it always will be, not a mental fight. You mentioned listening to music; did that help you take your mind off the challenge? I listened to 67 tracks all and all. So music is a big part of it. Please mention that the Danish roch group Pangea made a song for me last year and I still listen to it when I train. It´s called “You rock the world” and I get goose bumps when I hear it. What are your plans for the future? Do you have more goals of breaking world records? I don´t have concrete plans for the future. Records will always be broken and I´m grateful and pleased with my two attempts no matter how long or short “the title” lasts. I have spent a week in the Plank since January 1. 2015 and the next month I will enjoy, running, spinning, stepping (and making love to my wife :P).

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