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Welling grandma planks herself into the Guinness World Records

Posted on April 18, 2024 by admin
Southern Alberta Newspapers Photo by Delon Shurtz. BREAKING RECORD: DonnaJean Wilde of Welling shows the perfect form that recently helped her break a Guinness World Record for planking.

By Delon Shurtz
Southern Alberta Newspapers

DonnaJean Wilde is a fairly typical grandmother, with a rather atypical penchant for planking.

No, she’s not a floor installer, and she’s not a pirate, never having walked a plank in her life. But this 59-year-old retired school teacher from Welling loves to plank, as in lying face-down on the floor, then raising her body onto her forearms and toes and staying that way, like forever.

Okay, it may only feel like forever, but long enough to set a Guinness world record for planking, in the women’s category, of four hours, 30 minutes and 11 seconds.

Wilde set the record March 21, surpassing the previous record of four hours, 19 minutes and 55 seconds set in 2019 by yoga instructor Dana Glowacka of Montreal, who was 48 years old at the time.

“It was easy at first,” Wilde says. “The first couple of hours went by very fast.”

She knew it would get tougher over the next couple of hours as she got closer to the world record, and when she only had an hour to go, she became a little anxious and had to really concentrate as she grew tired.

“I think the last hour I was excited, I was getting anxious and I was also concentrating so hard on my form and not wanting to be disqualified for any reason, right?”

When she finally broke the record and decided to keep going, her effort was not just physical, but mental, as well.

“As soon as I had broken the record I thought I could keep going a lot longer, but I got emotional. Everyone was cheering and I think at that point it actually got very hard to keep going.”

Her cheering squad consisted of her husband Randy and other family members, as well as students of the Magrath High School where Wilde was attempting the world record and where students occasionally planked with her.

Although she thought she could continue planking a lot longer, Randy encouraged her to keep going at least 10 minutes longer, until she reached four and a half hours.

“At that point all I did was concentrate on breathing and holding very still.”

When Wilde finally had enough, she slowly lowered her body to the ground, but she didn’t relax completely and continued to hold up her head.

“If my head went down I would never get it up, so I just laid there.”

Until her world record attempt, her longest time planking was four hours. She had also done five or six hours a day in total, but not all at once. More than four hours straight would be a first, but during her record attempt she never entertained thoughts of quitting.

Although Wilde lives a healthy lifestyle, and even has a room in her house where she and Randy exercise regularly, she only began planking about 10 years ago after falling in the school gym and breaking her wrist.

“I was pretty sad because I couldn’t run or work out or lift weights or anything with a cast on.”

Around that time, however, some of her family members were following the planking craze and she decided to try it, even while wearing a cast. She continued planking and quickly improved until she was reading books, preparing school lessons, listening to music and even studying for her Masters degree, all while planking.

“I remember during that time being able to plank longer, like after a little while, and I was amazed that my time was improving.”

When she got her cast off she kept planking as part of her regular exercise routine and continued to improve, but really realized her potential during a family planking challenge during COVID when, for the first time, she held her plank for more than two hours and kicked everybody’s butt. Even Randy was able to boast a planking time of, well, five minutes.

After that her children encouraged her to go after the world record, and even though the suggestion stuck in her head, she really didn’t take it seriously, until about a year ago.

“I decided if I really was going to, I needed to go for it or just forget about it, because time was just passing.”

She applied in January, was accepted, and the rest will go down in history.

Wilde made a fast recovery after her record-breaking plank, suffering little more than some stiffness, and she continues to plank with no end in sight.

But what will she do if someone breaks her record? Will she try it again? She’s not saying no, but neither is she saying yes.

“At this point I’m not sure,” is all she concedes, but she’s glad she did it the first time.

“I would say the whole event was fun, it was quite a journey. It was a lot the last month working with Guinness and getting ready for it, but looking back…I’m glad I don’t have to say I wish I had done it.”

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