Personal trainer or Pirate? – planks and pain



Anyone who has been married or in a relationship for a long time will know what support is.  When your spouse is trying something new it’s your duty to get behind them and help in any way possible.  You may not agree with their  decision or even believe it will work but if their mind is made up you need to support and back them 100%.  For me these little plans usually come and go, like that time she decided we were going to use scent free laundry soap, or start a cardboard recycling program to help save the world – you betcha girl, I’m with you to the end.  So imagine my trepidation when she included me in “our” new years resolution to improve physical fitness.
It actually sounded simple enough at first.  We were already eating pretty well so all I had to do was join her doing something called “planking”.  Nothing to it, I’m with you sweetheart, sunshine, oh light of my life!  I don’t know what a plank is but I see boards just lay there, I can do that!
For those that don’t know, a plank is basically a pushup without moving.  After she explained it to me I figured this had to be the silliest, easiest exercise known to mankind.  “You mean, I get in a push up position and then don’t actually do any pushups?”  I was incredulous.  The world record for holding a plank is 5 hours; she suggested we start with 30 seconds.  I scoffed.  I shouldn’t have.
I confidently got down on the floor while she got the timer set, dreams of my new rock hard abs dancing through my head.  She said “ok, GO!” And I lifted myself up, making sure my back was square, and I waited , wondering why the world record was only 5 hours for this.  After some time passed I noticed that my stomach muscles were complaining a bit and wait – did my arm just shake slightly?  Hmmm, pay attention… yep there it is again, more pronounced – my arms definitely have started to shake.   “How much time?” I asked, starting to doubt my original estimate of an hour duration for my first ever plank.  “20 seconds to go” she said.  WHAT?  That can’t be right, I have to get that timer checked.  I can’t possibly have only been doing this for ten seconds?  My stomach muscles are really starting to let me know that something is wrong.  They have gotten used to being relaxed in a sitting position, covered by the cushy layer of warmth I have developed over the years.  My stomach muscles are spoiled to be honest.  I didn’t treat my children as well as I treat them.
As my wife called out “10 seconds!” I realized that if I was to continue my analogy comparing my stomach muscles to my children then I am now entering the realm of child abuse.  The discomfort turned to pain and I noticed that my arms were not the only thing shaking now.  Shoulders and legs also shook like the paint mixer at a hardware store while my stomach started a full revolt, threatening to just collapse and leave me in a heap on the floor.  “Keep your back straight, you’re slouching, five more seconds!” she barked.  She was no longer the sunshine of my life. At this point I was convinced that she was pure evil, the root of everything that is pain in this world.  I’m also pretty sure she was laughing at me.
As my wife and personal trainer counted down from five I glanced down, half expecting to see a pool of feces on the floor.  Or at least a pool of blood.  I actually would not have been surprised if I had found myself face to face with a small alien head as it ripped himself out of my stomach like the movie “Alien”.  “FOUR!” She called out as I envisioned the alien climbing free of my innards.    “As seen on TV!” Crossed through my mind and I started to giggle. “THREE!”  the countdown continued and the giggles increased, apparently the pain has made me delusional.  “Hi little guy!” I imagined I’d say to my new friend as he peered out of my intestines.  I’m laughing harder now.  This chuckling did not match up well with the shaking the rest of my body was already doing and it occurred to me that this whole fitness thing was a terrible idea.  I have now decided that I would rather actually walk a plank at knife point than do these planks any longer.
“TWO!”  I’ve really got to check that timer, either that or she is just messing with me now.   There is no way time is passing this slowly. Kind of a mean thing to do for someone that supposedly loves me.   I also realized at this time that I wasn’t breathing.  In fact I don’t even remember the last time I had taken a breath.  Have I been holding it this entire time?  Shouldn’t I be dead?
“ONE!” She continued the painfully slow countdown and I started to do the math on when I could quit and not be considered cheating.  Acceleration is 9.8 meters per second squared so if I dropped now I should be down about the time she says stop.  How long are my arms, how far to the floor?  Should I allow for air resistance?  So many questions but I decided I was close enough to let myself go, anticipating the sweet relief of giving in to gravity.
As she shouted out “DONE!!” I was already about halfway to the floor and I realized two things: 1 – my math was dead on, and
2 – my arms no longer worked as expected, meaning my face was about to be the first thing to meet the relief of the floor.
As I laid in a sobbing, laughing, sweating, heaving pool on the floor I did an assessment to see if I had a bleeding nose.  Apparently the human nose is not designed to stop the body from a free fall, which is pretty poor engineering I would say.   I did not dare look down further to see if there were any other fluids leaking onto the carpet.  This was her idea, she can have cleanup duties – I’ll let her figure out which towels to use for this mess too.
Hour later, after the stomach pains subsided and I regained the use of my arms, I stood in front of the mirror (which showed absolutely zero improvement I might add) and quietly considered moving to Tibet.  However I am not a quitter! (or I am not allowed to quit, thats kinda the same thing isn’t it?)  With the same resolve that allows a woman to have another child after enduring the pain of child birth I too decided I can press on.  I mean, I am only 4 hours, 59 minutes and 30 seconds off of the record, right?


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