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Give & Take: A World Record Workout – Sweating it out for ALS

Veronica Spak

Over the last decade, working out has become my go-to form of stress relief. In college, my first choice for a study break was always a quick run or trip to the campus gym. I’d “sweat out the stress” so to speak. Throughout the last few years in the working world, I’ve chosen the same type of activity to blow off steam. Whether a deadline is changed at the last minute or a reporter inaccurately printed something about a client, there’s plenty of stress floating around the world of public relations. My favorite fixes for a mental reset are rides on the Peloton bike or going to a Pilates class after work and every Saturday morning.

Well… almost every Saturday. On Saturday, May 18, I opted out of my usual Pilates class at 10am and forced myself out of bed at 6am to take part in an official World Record attempt. I had registered to participate in Orange Theory Fitness’s World’s Largest HIIT Workout at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I’m not a fan of early wakeups, especially on the weekend, but this record-breaking attempt was all in the name of good fun and benefitted Augie’s Quest, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for ALS.

Following the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, Augie’s Quest and Orange Theory set out to raise even more awareness and donations for the disease in a fun, active way. Instead of having a bucket of ice water dumped over my head, I was about to take on a different type of physical challenge: sustain a HIIT workout for 35 minutes straight with a 5-minute warm-up before and 5-minute cool down after the workout.

Thirty-five minutes doesn’t sound so terrible for a workout when you exercise 5-6 days a week, but when you are being judged by Guinness World Record Official Judges, you have to abide by their rules. That meant I had to keep moving for the entire workout session, or else I would be disqualified. And of course, what’s the fun in being disqualified from a world record?!

So, I did squats. And lunges and jumping jacks and mountain climbers and high-knees. Nonstop. For 35 minutes. I was tired and I was sweaty – it was abnormally humid and sunny for a Chicago morning in May. But every time I wanted to take a break and stop moving, I reminded myself that I was there for more than just a Saturday morning workout. I was there to help break a world record and raise awareness for a disease that affects the lives of the 16,000 Americans. I’m glad I kept moving.

While we didn’t break the world record for the World’s Largest HIIT Workout, the event set an even better record: 4,200 people gathered together in one place, at one time to fund and find a cure for ALS, which is more people than in any point in human history.  

If you want to make a donation to support finding a cure for ALS, head on over to Augie’s Quest or the ALS Association.

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