MINNETONKA — A few years ago, Andy Steinfeldt didn’t even know what a plank was, and now he may hold the Guinness World Record for planking.

The Minnetonka resident celebrated his 71st birthday on March 19 by planking for 38 minutes, which he believes may be the record for the longest abdominal plank held by someone of his age group. And two days later, on March 21, he told Lakeshore Weekly News he was still feeling a bit sore.

“It’s quite grueling. And I don’t really practice it (planking),” Steinfeldt said, noting he does cross training but holding a plank is “too boring to practice. So it was stressing a few places I usually don’t get stress. But I’m recovering.”

At one point, he didn’t think he’d be able to beat the previous record of 36 minutes, 58 seconds, which, according to a 2011 news release from Anytime Fitness, was set by Betty Lou Sweeney, of Wisconsin.

“I recently went through radiation treatments for cancer to the abdomen, and I think that zapped some energy because I actually planned to do [plank] for longer, but the last 10 minutes or so were pretty much a struggle,” Steinfeldt said, noting if there weren’t TV cameras and a small group of people watching, he “probably wouldn’t have made it.”

Steinfeldt’s wife, his aunt, a friend and his guitarist were at Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park on March 19 to support his world record attempt, as well as some staff from the community center and three local TV news camera crews, he said.

To stay entertained and to keep himself from thinking about what he was doing, Steinfeldt, who is a singer, said he sang along to the music of his guitarist and had some conversations with the people in attendance.

His first plank

Steinfeldt had never heard of a plank until he had to do one when he joined Anytime Fitness a few years ago. He said to join the gym, they put you through a series of exercises to make sure you’re fit enough to use the equipment unsupervised.

So Steinfeldt got down on the ground and started planking. Apparently they wanted him to be able to hold the plank for about 30 seconds. But 10 minutes went by and they stopped him. Steinfeldt recalls the employee commenting on how exceptional it was to hold a plank for that long.

“I had no idea. I didn’t even know what the plank was,” Steinfeldt said.

Then last year, on his 70th birthday, he held a plank for 35 minutes. He said it was the first time he’d really held a plank for as long as he could without being stopped.

“I surprised myself with it,” he said of his 35-minute plank. “I still didn’t know what a big deal it was until I did a little Googling and found out that 90 seconds is considered exceptional.”

A potential record

Steinfeldt’s plank still has to be verified with Guinness, he says, noting he plans to send the required documentation to Guinness in the next couple days.

Even if his 38-minute plank doesn’t make it into Guinness’ record book, his feat is “apparently exceptional” because the news about his plank has been published “all over the world,” he said.

“It’s a good achievement, whether it’s officially recognized by Guinness or not. As far as I know, as far as the research I’ve done shows, it may be a Guinness record.”

Steinfeldt notes the record would be for someone of his age group, because there are younger people who’ve held an abdominal plank for hours longer than him. According to the Guinness World Records website, the record for longest time in an abdominal plank position (male) is 8 hours, 1 minute. Mao Weidong, of China, set the record on May 14, 2016.

The record for longest time in an abdominal plank position (female) is 3 hours, 31 minutes. Maria Kalimera, of Cyprus, set the record on Sept. 28, 2015, after about a year of practicing, the website says.

Guinness’ website does not currently list any abdominal planking records for people of specific age groups. However, the website does let people apply for a new record title.

Overcoming obstacles

Steinfeldt is a motivational speaker, which is why he set out to break the world record for planking in the first place.

“It’s really to show how you can overcome challenges — which I’ve had plenty — and accomplish things that seem extraordinary,” Steinfeldt said. He got cancer, beat it, and later had a reoccurrence. His company crashed. His father died. His close friends died. And he nearly lost a leg due to a misdiagnosed blood clot.

So to hold a plank for 38 minutes provides “great personal pride” but also “adds to my portfolio to talking to people with challenges,” he said. That includes people who are aging, and to show them that you don’t just have to sit in front of the TV eating chips — you can stay fit at any age.

Steinfeldt doesn’t just hold planks longer than the average person. He runs marathons — he’s running Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth in June and the Twin Cities Marathon in October — and will be competing in several state Senior Games and the National Senior Games this year.

He admits he’s not the fastest marathon runner and doesn’t even make it into the top half of his age group, but that’s not why he does it. In everything Steinfeldt does, he is hoping to show people to just keep going, to never stop competing, no matter your age or the challenges you’ve faced along the way.

“My goal never is to be at the top — except for I guess I am in this (planking) — my goal … in running is to be one of the oldest people running the marathon. And I think I can achieve that, and maybe then I’ll be one of the fastest in my age group,” Steinfeldt said with a chuckle.

“I plan to keep this going for a long, long time,” he said of running marathons and planking.

So every year, on March 19, you’ll find Steinfeldt celebrating his birthday by holding an abdominal plank for as long as he can. His goal is to beat the time he held it the year before, he said.

Melissa Turtinen is the multimedia reporter for Lakeshore Weekly News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.

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