As a wise person once observed, if you think 60 seconds goes by fast you’ve never tried planking.
My affair with this flavour-of-the-month abdominal muscles exercise was short-lived but intense, strained but powerful and most definitely for a brief time bordering on the fanatical. Like most affairs everything was going merrily until (A) someone found out and (B) someone got hurt. In both cases that ‘someone’ happened to be my lower vertebrae.
Over the weeks and months I’d gradually levelled up to the point of being able to hold my ‘plank’ for around three and a half minutes (a so-called ‘feat’ experienced plankers will take knee-slapping amusement in), body shaking all the while like a Tokyo skyscraper trying to hold it together during a 9.5 Richter scale earthquake. Having achieved this career high, it was then time to suffer the backlash. And I do literally mean back-lash.
For though my abdominals (as they call them in the world of squats and lycra) were (sort of) thanking me for tricking them into believing they were 21 again, my back was waving the coconut-white flag of surrender and appealing in an unmistakably not-to-be-ignored tone – “What in sweet apple sauce’s name of abuse are you doing to me?”
Planking and I waved goodbye to each other that same day, promising like two parting friends to stay in touch but knowing deep down that would be the last time we would ever see each other.
Enter then the lightbulb moment of inspiration: like Sly Stallone in Rocky 5, (the movie where Rocky trades in his boxing gloves to become a trainer for the marvelously unlikable ‘Tommy Gunn‘) an idea washed up on my shore that would allow me to continue to breathe in the sweat-stained air of the planking universe minus the geriatric-inducing wear and tear on my non-gravity defying lumbar.
I would seamlessly morph into, not a coach (like Rocky) of an on-the-rise fellow planker, but a promoter of an organised and sanctioned ‘All Comers Welcome’ Planking Event. And so it was that SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK elbowed its way past all other competing aspirants who were unashamably waving all manner of cash and inducements to compete for the honour of being named chief sponsor of the GASS STAFF PLANKING CHALLENGE.
Exactly here is where I was supposed to insert the publicity photos of the event that took place on the polished wooden floorboards of my school auditorium a few days back. Due to a malfunctioning camera that’s now been flung face first onto concrete from a great height (ok, that’s what I felt like doing) that isn’t possible. Instead you’ll just have to imagine eight education staff trying to outplank each other in front of a 100 strong audience of cheering, woo-hooing teachers, deputy principals, support staff and curriculum heads. See it-feel it now? Kind of?
And what’s someone have to do to earn the title of ‘sponsor’ I bionically hear you wonder?
I would have thought the answer to that was pretty obvious – cough up the prizes like a good Sugar Daddy does… of course! Overseas holidays, rare sports memorabilia, vehicles, and high tea experiences with a celebrity of the winner’s choice never rated a thought in this competition. No siree! Scenic Writer’s Shack chose to lavish its male and female title-holders with riches of the calibre –
which even the most mean-spirited critic would have to agree is still a step up from a packet of trail mix and a mackerel fish cotton tie (and probably two steps up from back in 2015 when the US version of The Price Is Right tv game show awarded a treadmill to a contestant in a wheelchair).
Before we leave the subject of planking altogether, time briefly to dust off the history books to distinguish between the two different forms of the practice.
The original ‘lying-face-down-in-public-places-like-a-stiff-plank-of-wood’ incarnation took on throughout the world around the late 2000’s. The term “Planking” was coined by South Australian man Sam Weckert in the summer of 2008. Weckert created a Facebook fan page to share “planking” photos. After reports of the practice started appearing in the Australian media, it grew rapidly and the meme became a global phenomenon.
After reports of the craze in the British media in 2009, the lying down game spread to the rest of the world. Worldwide it has also been known as “extreme lying down” and “facedowns”.
In more recent years, ‘fitness planking’ has evolved which requires the practitioner to elevate their torso off the ground via use of their elbows, forearms and toes.
Ps. This week’s BONUS READ is about a BBC Radio program called DESERT ISLAND DISCS. The Sunday morning show has been running for 76 years and currently has a listening audience each week of around 3 million people. Celebrity guests are asked what one song, one book and one luxury item they would take to a desert island.
Pss. Continuing in our series of previewing books with interesting sounding plot synopses (which may or may not be as interesting to actually read in full) comes the 2017 crime fiction novel AND FIRE CAME DOWN from Melbourne writer Emma Viskic.
Here’s the summary –
Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic used to meet life head-on. Now he’s struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours.
But when a young woman is killed after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. And the trail leads straight to his hometown, Resurrection Bay.
The town is on bushfire alert and simmering with racial tensions. As he delves deeper, Caleb uncovers secrets that could threaten his life and any chance of reuniting with Kat. Driven by his demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?
AND FIRE CAME DOWN has won a host of awards and received acclaim from critics and readers alike. Apparently the prose sprints along and is sprinkled with enough Australian colloquialisms to make even Kath & Kim proud.
Psss. AND FIRE CAME DOWN made it onto Brisbane City Council‘s 2018 list of TOP 40 Book Club Reads. Read the complete list (the new novel from Richard Flanagan shown on page 32 also looks armed to the teeth with interest) here –
Pssss. Can’t leave without devoting a parting thought to the 21st Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast (Australia) – the much criticized closing ceremony of which was held last Sunday night. Attended by athletes from 71 nations competing in 19 different sports, these games marked the first time a major multi-sport event achieved gender equality by having an equal number of events for both male and female athletes. The complete integration of the para sports with the able-bodied events (instead of them being staged as a separate spectacle following the regular games) was also a first.
If I had to choose a viewing highlight from amongst many, for sheer memorable strangeness, it would have to have been the sight of Nigerian female wrestler Blessing Oborududu engaged in an overly long, wild and mat-rolling victory celebration after winning the 68kg freestyle women’s wrestling category, while her defeated Canadian opponent looked on completely unimpressed.
For those into comparative medal tallies, starting with a flashback to the 2014 Scotland Commonwealth Games, here ya go –