Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Latest Fitness Challenge: The Pure Barre Plank-off!

About a month ago, my local Pure Barre studios announced a plank-off. Whoever could hold a forearm plank the longest would win a month of unlimited classes.

Well, we all know how much I love free barre classes, so I was in! I started training right away.

I've never been particularly good at planking, especially since I had the small people. (I vowed I wasn't going to use my sacrificial mother angle in this post... but I can't seem to help myself. I'll try to keep a lid on it.)

Happily for my poor, beleaguered mother abs (oops! there I go again!), barre people love the plank, and for good reason. We tend to think of plank as an abdominal exercise, but as you see in the image below:

A forearm plank also works your shoulders, chest, thighs and even your shins! And if you plank for long enough, you'll get kinda sweaty. (At least, I do.)

At Pure Barre, they have you plank every class for 90 seconds, so I knew I could handle that, but what was my outer limit?

Day 1
I held plank for barely three minutes. Not bad for a start, but with all the badasses at my local Pure Barre, I knew it wouldn't be enough. I started planking almost every day.

The thing about planking is that it's so. frickin'. boring. It's really hard to make planking fun. I tried listening to music, podcasts, Foyle's War in the background... still boring. I tried to read, but the book was too close. I finally settled on perusing a chocolate cookbook. At least I could look at the pictures.

Then I started developing some aches and pains... I don't know why, probably from schlepping those kids around all these years... anyway, I had to take things down a notch. Eventually I got up to my personal best of 5 minutes, 15 seconds. Well, that would have to do.

Game Day
I made my way over to Pure Barre and felt strangely tired. This must be what Olympic athletes feel like before their big races! Yes. That's it. Remember Apolo Ohno?
Image: Huffington Post

That was totally what I was like today. Minus the helmet. And chin hair.

I and my fellow competitors gathered in the lobby, all very chummy and friendly, but no one would own her best time. The instructor mentioned another student, who was unable to attend, claimed she could hold plank for 30 minutes.

We all stood there, mouths agape. Thirty minutes?! Are you kidding me?? One my my fellow competitors said, 'how old is she?!' Of course, I'm thinking, 'how many babies has she birthed? And how many c-sections?! That's what I want to know.'

But I didn't ask. If there is one thing I learned from all my plank training, it's discipline, self-mastery, etc.

So we got started and... I didn't do too badly. I got to 5 minutes and my back starting hurting. I looked around the room and there were still three badasses planking away. One of them was cool as a cucumber. I figured I had no chance of winning once I looked at her, so at 5 minutes, 30 seconds, I dropped out. No sense in risking a back injury. Lord knows my poor back has been through enough after those pregnancies... good grief, and the breastfeeding. Have you tried that standing up? Let me tell you, it's rough.

Anyway, the badasses just kept planking away... finally it was down to two. The runner-up (who had just taken class prior to the plank-off) dropped at 9 minutes and change, and Miss Cucumber decided to continue to an even 10 minutes. God bless her. Really, she looked like she could have gone for a very. long. time.

We all clapped and cheered. Honestly, I was kind of in awe. I would love to know how long Miss Cucumber could really hang in plank. I guess we'll never know... unless Miss 30 Minutes shows up next year.

So yay for the plank-off! I got home and realized a 5 min. 30 second plank doesn't really count as a complete workout, so I said to Darling Son #1, what should I do for exercise today? He says, "how about a plank?!"

Ummm, no. But thanks all the same.


  1. Congrats on the five and one half. On my good days, I can plank for a minute. You have my respect if that's anything.

    1. Oh, thank you thank you! A free class lasts an hour, but respect lasts... maybe longer than that?!

  2. One more thing: Does the winner REALLY need a month of free classes?

    1. Oh, thanks Anon! I appreciate your respect, truly! As for the winner 'needing' free classes, I don't know, but she certainly deserves them! And that's the great thing about barre... you never outgrow it!