Aurora man shatters world record for plank

An Aurora man who shattered a world record on Saturday in Naperville says his physical feat was one retired man’s way of inspiring others in their 40s, 50s and older to get off the couch and change their lives.

George Hood, who turns 54 on Monday, set the new Guinness World Record for an exercise called the plank, or static abdominal hold, that involves a person supporting his body weight in a straight line from forearms to tiptoes.

Hood, a former Marine and retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent, held the plank for 1 hour, 20 minutes and 5.01 seconds Saturday at Eggsperience Pancakes & Cafe in Naperville. The previous record was 50 minutes, 11.21 seconds.

“This has to be one of the most physically demanding, excruciating things I’ve ever done,” Hood said Saturday afternoon, just hours after setting the record.

Hood has held world records for stationary biking three times before, spending 222 hours, 22 minutes and 22 seconds on a bike in November 2010 to gain a record that only was broken by two hours in May. While the stationary biking record tests endurance, Hood said breaking the plank record challenged him to triumph over intense physical demands in a short period of time.

“That pain muscles go through because they don’t move, that’s where the discomfort comes in,” Hood said. “I enjoy walking the edge.”

Three “inspirational coaches” Hood hand-picked helped him keep his mental focus and persuaded him to keep going when he wanted to bow out at 1 hour, 12 minutes. Hood’s three sons — ages 22, 20 and 18 — were among the roughly 200 people who watched him set the record.

Hood, who works as a personal trainer, exercised between five and seven hours a day the past six months, doing sets of planks, push-ups and crunches and spending hours biking at XSport Fitness in Naperville. He broke the plank record unofficially in practice seven times and knew he could hold the position for 1 hour, 15 minutes, he said.

After outlasting the previous record holder by a half-hour, Hood said he hopes his accomplishment will encourage others his age to improve their fitness.

“This is about a guy like me, retired, inspiring people and changing lives,” he said.

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