Click below to see the 6-minute success!
November 5, 2018, our 6th grade Language Arts class began the plank challenge. We thought it was a good idea to begin planking for one minute and then add fifteen seconds on each school day. In retrospect, we probably should have started at 30 seconds and added 10 seconds each day as the path we chose got exponentially difficulty before we realized the consequences of our ambition decision.
During the first week, everyone gave it a go and we did not think about any rules or guidelines. After we surpassed two minutes, we realized we need to have options and we needed to define what a plank actually is or is not. There are many variations to choose from as seen here 20 ways to plank. The basic forearm plank was the most valued and highly respected. Straight-arm plank was next. That is what I usually moved to after around two minutes. Personally, I have an injury so I did that mostly to protect myself but also because forearm plank is extremely difficult.
After the first week or so, I asked the two classes to guess how long they think I could last. Times were recorded on Post-it notes and displayed as a constant reminder that I had a long way to go. The morning class bet five minutes, forty-five seconds and the afternoon class bet five minutes 30 seconds. Honestly, I had no idea how long I could last. I think three minutes was the longest I have counted in my Orange Theory class, unofficially that is.
The first weekend was a welcome respite. What I knew in my head but did not realize is how important daily, consistent action really is to maintain strength. Monday the 12th with a 2-minute plank was a rude awakening. It felt like I was starting all over again. At this point, most of the class was still going for it and others took the option to read, do a wall sit, or some variation of something as long as they did it each day with us.
The third week was Thanksgiving. We had two days of planking and then we were on our own to keep going independently or not. Once again, I left for the holiday thinking I would at least attempt to plank a minute each day but realistically I planked twice on five days off.
We talked about how this was more about mental strength than anything. After the first minute, sometimes the first thirty seconds, my mind was telling me to quit. I wanted to be done. Why was I even doing this? What got me through was the collective goal, the challenge, and the belief that I could do anything I put my mind to. Questions arose, such as, “How long is it humanly possible to plank?” Looking at the world record, we were not quite so ambitious after all Guinness World Record Plank.
Week four was just painful. It felt like I was so close but yet so far away. Muscles, straining, temperature rising, all I wanted was to be done, to fall to the ground, to have it over with. Monday the 3rd of December, was the beginning of the end. Determined to crush my goal of 6 minutes, I knew I could get there with the collective energy of our class. Each day, the additional 15 seconds felt like minutes, perhaps hours. I tried everything I could to distract myself from breathing in slowly, counting by 10s, to counting specks for light blue on the carpet.
It took 5 weeks, until December 7th, to reach 6 minutes. I was proud of myself and also relieved that it was over. Could I do more? Perhaps. I did have underlying guilt of what felt like giving up. Some students went on to do 15 minutes and in the afternoon class, several got 30 minutes plus! Almost everyone was eager to take on another physical challenge after winter break. Action, compounded daily, brings exponential goodness.
What will you challenge yourself to do daily? Let us know!