Lock-down stress to breaking a World Record

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Watching Battle Ropes World Record on Zoom
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Lock-down stress to breaking a World Record

By Rhian Cowburn (Studio Founder)

My journey from lock-down stress to a broken World Record…

I know many people felt frustrated when lockdown was imposed, and they couldn’t workout at the gym. But I perhaps felt it more than most since being at the gym isn’t just how I spend my free time, it’s also my job too.

As the owner of a fitness studio, it was hard to see something that matters so much to me, and my customers, be off-limits at a time when we all needed it the most.

Who could ever have imagined a situation where Boris dictates the amount and type of exercise you could do in a day? No gym equipment, no pools, no spin bikes…

With those types of limitations there was a time when I would have turned to running, however an old Achilles heel injury has made running more of a chore than something fun.

I tried working on my muscle-ups (a calisthenic bodyweight move that sees you tricep dip on top of a pull-up bar) but the emotional toll of  2020 left me unable to perform something that needed that level of technical skill.

That’s when I turned to battle ropes; a heavy, thick rope that’s anchored and ‘whipped’ in a wave motion up and down. It’s one of the rare exercises that’s both a strength and cardio workout at the same time.

Battle ropes weren’t completely new to me (I’d used them in my circuits classes) but they weren’t something I’d paid any real attention to. In fact, it was a bit of a running joke at my gym, Strong + Bendy, that I wasn’t very good at them.

But once I picked them up during lock-down the appeal was 2 fold:

  • Whilst they’re hard work, they’re easy to get the hang of (far from being technically taxing, the beauty lies in their simplicity)
  • The measly 1 hour allowed by Boris is more than enough on the ropes (in fact I started with just 1 minute long sets).

With a background in endurance events it wasn’t long before I started to get addicted to seeing how long I could whip battle ropes for. 1 min long sets, turned to 5, then 10, then 20.

The positive impact on my mental and physical wellbeing was huge, suddenly I had a focus again.

Being a naturally competitive person, I was intrigued by what the world record was for whipping battle ropes. I applied to Guinness World Records and discovered that the men’s record at the time was held by Dan Moxley for 50 mins. Shortly after, that was broken by Ambrish Parmar who pushed the record up to 59 mins. No women’s record was in place, so a minimum of 22 minutes was needed to claim the women’s record.

(Side note: a quick look on YouTube and you’ll find people whipping ropes for much longer than this. However, Guinness World Records demands a minimum rope length and thickness, along with stipulating that every single whip of the rope having to go to shoulder height or above.)

So after 7 months of brutal training on the 25th September 2020, with a small group of (socially distanced!) supporters, independent witnesses and timekeepers I set about not just trying to set the women’s record but beat the men’s world record on the battle ropes.

After 60 of the most painful minutes of my life, I slammed the rope down in sheer joy and relief having turned a lock-down coping mechanism into a world record!

I owe a lot to both record holders, Dan and Ambrish, for being so generous with their advice and answering my endless questions. There was never a time they tried to be protective over their knowledge and expertise.

It’s been an odd year, but the experience has taught me the world is still full of amazing people who want to see others succeed. And if we end up in lock-down again, there’s plenty of fun to be had in your 1 hour per day of exercise if you’re inventive about how you use it 😂

Official details of my record can be found here.