When several out-of-the-ordinary things happen in one week, I guess I have trouble keeping up. Perhaps the most out-of-the-ordinary thing that happened last week I totally forgot to mention: between our French Laundry dinner and the Google guy’s place we went to a Guiness World Record event where one of Sophie’s photography clients attempted to perform the most squats in one hour.
Sophie was the official photographer for the event and I assisted. The lady performing the feat was Dr. Thienna Ho. The event was held in the gymnasium at SF State and a local Vietnamese martial arts group performed as well.
The world record to beat for most squats in an hour was 4,656. That’s a squat every 0.77 seconds, which is quite a good clip. An official from Guiness had flown in from the UK and was there with a little click counter to verify the result. She did the squats in front of a mirror so that she could make sure she was doing them correctly — incorrect squats would not be counted towards the total.
Folks sat in the bleachers and watched. I was not sure if I would be able to watch someone do squats for an hour. But, strangely, when you’re right there in front of someone making a world record breaking attempt, there is a strange touch of excitement even if the act itself is, to put it simply, very monotonous.
The small crowd stayed the whole time. There was a big digital clock that counted off the time, and a metronome click that layed out the pace which she would have to maintain to break the record. There was no squat counter except for those in the hands of the Guiness official and Thienna’s trainer, so until it was all done we’d have no idea if she made it or by how much.
She didn’t always go at a steady pace, instead going for some stretches more slowly than the metronome, and at other times doing a burst at almost double the speed. She became glossy with sweat and her legs got reddish with blood flow as time wore on. When the timer got down to two minutes, the crowd started chanting until the final countdown, and then went wild when it was over.
After a brief break, the result was announced: she had done 5135 verified squats in an hour, soundly beating the record. Thienna and her trainer were very pleased as the official presented her award.
I will note that Thienna’s trainer is the most physically powerful woman I’ve ever met. There’s no great picture of her online, but she makes an appearance 10 seconds into the training video. Her arms are as big as Thienna’s thighs. I would not be surprised if she could do 5135 hand-standing pushups in an hour.
I will also note that the Guiness official seemed about the happiest guy I’ve met in a long time. He loved his job. I talked with him a bit, and he just loved traveling the world and verifying all the crazy stuff that people do. I should have asked him how he got his job.
I had noticed that he hadn’t counted every single squat that Thienna had done and asked about that. He said this was true, and estimated that over the course of the hour there were probably about ten squats that he didn’t qualify. The man takes his record keeping very seriously.
Thienna then gave a little talk about her new book and then did a signing. A couple of Sophie’s photos appear in the book, including the front cover shot on the right.
Oh, here’s a brief video of the event.