MAN’S WORLD: Planking my way to a six-pack

Planking as it should be done.
Planking as it should be done.

Let me freely confess that I have been a boring old (insert four letter word of choice) over Christmas and New Year.

I have relentlessly chanted ‘first world problems’ every time my children have complained that we’ve run out of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, that there’s Caramel Chew-Chew, not Phish Food, in the freezer or – in Tom’s case – that the bottle of wine he’s finishing off tonight isn’t quite as good as the one he finished off last night.

Sadly I must also freely confess that I’m a hypocrite.

As regular readers know, I like my red wine, my cheese, my dessert wine and all the other little indulgences that have me buying trousers from the athletic (alright, elastic) waist rack.

Not any more. All that is about to change – as I was pointing out to my youngest son over the dinner table.

“So what are your resolutions for this year, dad?”

“Simple. Eat less: exercise more,” I said, cutting another piece of cheese. (Well, obviously the Stilton needed finishing...)

“The same resolution you made last year. And the year before.”

“No. There’s a difference. This year I’ve stripped it back to its essential core. Last year it was full of rubbish about salads, vegetables and three-mile walks. New Year’s resolutions; goals; mission statements.

Keep ’em simple, son. ‘Delenda est Cathago’ as I’m sure your history teacher has told you.”

“We’re doing Vietnam, dad.”

“You’re missing the point,” I said. “Besides, there’s more. Make my own bread.”

“Same as last year.” I sensed that Ben was becoming a little cynical. “In fact, dad, you’ve never kept a New Year’s resolution.”

“Yes, I have. When did we last have meat from the supermarket?” Ha! I had him there. Not for years. Not since I noticed the remarkable similarity between the white foam washing up on the beach and the white foam that comes out of supermarket bacon.

My son admitted defeat and voluntarily went off to do his homework.

Coincidentally, just as I’d started telling him about my new exercise regime...

But he was looking remarkably chipper as he walked in from school the next day.

“Got your exam results?” I asked.

“No. But I have got a suggestion for you,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“Mr Pringle at school is getting fit. He’s doing the 30-day plank challenge. Why don’t you try it, dad?”

I typed it into Google. Well that didn’t look too difficult. And the ‘before and after’ pictures looked impressive.

‘Phwoar’ might well be the word on my wife’s lips if I had a six pack like that. Only 20 seconds on the first day, as well...

“That 30 day challenge you mentioned,” I said the following night as I finally finished the Stilton. “I’m going to do it.”

The next morning found me on the bathroom floor.

This was it. The plank.

Resting on your forearms, the rest of you holding a press-up. I opened the stop-watch on my phone. Pressed start...

Was it broken? Surely time passed more quickly than that? Hell’s bells, I was hurting. Eight seconds? Only eight seconds? Come on, faster.

My back was aching now. Fifteen seconds. Tough it out. Twenty seconds. Yes!

But I was beaten at twenty three seconds. Still, not bad for the first day. I let out a loud groan and collapsed on the bathroom floor.

“How did it go, Dad?”

“Target twenty seconds,” I said.

“We already know that.”

“The six pack has landed,” I said smugly. “Twenty three seconds.”

Jane and Ben looked suitably impressed. So I kept quiet about the five minutes it took me to get up off the floor afterwards...