Wednesday, 28 July 2021
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

If someone tells you that you can have a flat stomach in 20 seconds run for the hills

Written by  May 16, 2020

“I think these trousers must have shrunk in the washing machine,” I cried to my wife as I struggled to get the top button fixed. Ever the diplomat my wife replied, “I don’t think it’s a problem with the trousers.” Probably like half the nation self-isolation hadn’t been kind on my waistline. I am not really one for exercise anyway so the excuse of being at home non-stop actually worked out quite well for me. That was until planking arrived.

“One of my clients has told me about this fitness program, he has lost 10 kilos, and the exercise only lasts for 20 seconds,” exclaimed my wife. She did say a lot more but honestly all I can remember is 20 seconds. Now that is a fitness program tailor-made for me, less than half a minute every day. “He will send me the exact program and what to do,” she added. As Renée Zellweger once famously said “You had me at hello.”  Or in my case “You had me at 20 seconds.”

Without asking any more details I promised to participate. We watched the videos, it looked easy, too easy to be true. You basically hold your body as if you are doing a press up but with your elbows on the floor. Another bonus I noticed was that I didn’t have to move my body. This was going to be a dream, flat stomach here I come!

“I’ll go first,” I said and as I raised my body into the correct position I discovered that this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. After just ten seconds I was shaking like a man connected to the electric chair. Muscles I didn’t even know I had, were trembling. “And that’s 20 seconds,” he wife said as I collapsed like a sack of potatoes to the floor. Gasping for air as a fish out of water I said “Ok, it will probably be easier next time.”

For four days I held my body in this position on our living room floor for 20 seconds. And every time my body said “Stop, what the hell are you doing to me.” “According to our program we have a day off tomorrow,” said my wife. Praise the Lord! A break from 20 seconds of pain at least for one day. And of course to celebrate our day off I bought two large Snickers bars, which kind of defeated the object.

The following day I was prepared for the 20 seconds of torture when I heard the fatal words. “Ok, today we start from the new timings of 30 seconds,” said my wife as I lay on the floor ready for my next 20 seconds. Wait! What happened to 20 seconds, I didn’t sign up for this! As ever I hadn’t thought this through. It turned out that my 20 second dream was now seriously extended. “So we stop at 30 seconds right,” I asked my wife. “No, when we get through to the end of the program then we must do 5 minutes,” she smiled.

My first thought was – I think it best if I just give up now. 20 second was like 5 minutes for me anyway. But, against my better judgement I pushed on with some new found determination. I have now, somehow, got to 45 seconds, although every time I am shaking like I am sitting on a washing machine on the spin cycle. Am I losing weight, well I’m not sure. Am I determined to reach 5 minutes, hell yes! The American writer Christian Nestell Bovee once wrote, “A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough.”


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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