27 Dec

Plank Challenge ended December 19th.

Yet we keep hearing stories from people who set new records and surprised themselves by how long they held their plank.

Sarah Bontempo in Austin, Texas, shared this story with us:

This morning my goal was 5 minutes but I was swept up by the beauty of the holiday season and felt empowered to reach 6 minutes! Just wanted to share! Thanks for putting this all together!


Before this challenge I could barely do a minute!

Savor this moment.

To Sarah and everyone who joined the Plank Challenge, I hope you take the time to savor your success!  Look back to where you started, remember your journey, and let the sweetness of your best plank sink into your bones.

Together, one minute at a time, we are creating a world of stronger, more centered people.

What next?

Sheri and I plan to be back next fall for another world-wide Plank Challenge.  We have learned so much this time around, and are already thinking of ways to make it better.  In the meantime, of course, we’ll be practicing our plank and hope that you are, too.

You can also revisit the website for inspiration and tips.

And send your pictures to the gallery by emailing them to:

You are also welcome to join us at any of our willPower & grace classes. Sheri teaches in Sweden and I’m in San Francisco.  And there are instructors all over the place!

There’s also a video, which is great if there isn’t a willPower instructor near you, or if you like to workout at home.

Thank you for planking with us!

Savor these last few days of 2010, and we’ll see you in 2011.


We did it!

19 Dec

The results are in. I’m thrilled!

I have definitely made a huge leap from where I was just seven weeks ago. I can’t believe I reached my goal!  In fact, I’ve never thought of myself as the kind of person who reaches outrageous goals. That’s always been my marathon-running and mountain-climbing sister, who relentlessly reaches goal lines and craggy peaks. I’ve always been the one who took it a little easier, walking instead of running, deciding it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I quit a little early.
Years ago, when I went to core classes and the instructor gave the cue to get up on our elbows and toes, I just stretched out on my stomach with my hands under my chin and relaxed and waited out the exercise.
I didn’t like it. It was uncomfortable. So I skipped it.
When I decided to start teaching willPower & grace®, I heard Stacey Lei Krauss say:

“I expect all instructors to be able to hold at least a two minute plank.”

I instantly regretted all those lazy minutes that could have been spent practicing or at least learning what I was capable of.
Before attending my first willPower training, I desperately practiced the plank on the living room floor, and felt like I would die after two minutes. But I held it, and knew then that it was at least possible. But I still didn’t like it.

Organizing a plank challenge was certainly not something I ever thought I would do.

Holding a plank for 4 minutes was out of the question, and doing it for 6 minutes and 30 seconds was simply unthinkable. Now, what was once unthinkable has become real.

That’s the whole point.

The plank is a simple exercise, but the physical and mental experience of getting through the discomfort to reach new goals is something that can work for you in every area of your life. Every day. Plus, once you start doing it, it’s fun!  We can’t wait to hear about your plank challenge goals and stories!

Let’s get this party started!

18 Dec

I broke my plank record.

Last June I held my longest plank ever, at 3 minutes.  That was at the willPower Summit in Denver, surrounded by over 50 other willPower instructors.

The collective excitement and strength was definitely a key to my first 3-minute plank!

This time, I was on my own.

Well, yes and no.

You plank alone.

And never alone.

In one sense, plank is personal and when you do it you are completely on your own.  It’s just you, your body, and your mind.

On the other hand, you always have support.

I knew that Sheri was rooting for me.  And my friends and family, and of course my students and everyone taking part in the Plank Challenge.

And everyone at knows what it’s like, and they’re cheering, too.

Tapping into that collective energy feels really good.

Pre-party plank.

And now I’ve broken my record, right before going out to a holiday party where I will drink mulled wine and eat chocolate cake.  I put on a pretty outfit, I did my hair, my nails look great. . . but honestly, right now it’s my new plank time that makes me feel beautiful.

It’s that feeling of thriving.  Of living vibrantly, with strength and grace.  It’s inner-knowledge and joy and pride and peace.

I hope you get to experience some of that, too.

Dedicated to Sheri, and everyone working on their plank!

Friday, Saturday, GOAL!

17 Dec

This is it! Friday, Saturday, and December 19th

I thought you might need some inspiration. Because tomorrow is the last day to practice before you do your longest plank ever on Sunday, December 19th.

I’ve been doing mini plank challenges with my classes all week long.

The Danscenter group in Stockholm has actually not been in the challenge for all seven weeks, so we set a goal for 3 minutes and 15 seconds. It was a huge accomplishment for everyone involved.
Here it is! (“Bra!” means “good!” in Swedish).
If you have a video of your longest plank ever, e-mail us:, and we’ll let you know how to publish it here.
If you have pictures, send them in.  GOOD LUCK!

tech tip: keep calm and carry on

15 Dec

What to do when you want out.

As simple as plank is, it doesn’t take long for my body to start wanting out.  I get the shakes — sometimes in the shoulders first, or sometimes in my quads.  I get uncomfortable.  I get warm.  My breath gets raggedy.

Here’s how I handle it.

First, I check in with my body and make sure I’m not forcing anything.  I check in with my alignment.

If I’m feeling pressure in my low back, then I focus on drawing my abs in and up.  If my low back still feels crunched, then my knees come down.

If my technique is still good, then I make micro-adjustments.

Slight weight shifts.  Lifting the back of my knees.  Floating the crown of my head forward.

If I feel pressure in my wrist, I have a couple options:

(1) step down to my forearms, taking my wrists out of the equation, or

(2) pressing my fingertips into the floor.

Pressing fingertips into the floor engages the muscles in the hand and forearm, and takes pressure out of the wrist.  It’s awesome.

Then, I focus on my breath.

Keep breath long and slow and deep and steady.  Keep the oxygen flowing.

As they say:

Success story.

The great thing about plank is that you can easily measure your progress every single time you do it.  Each extra second on the clock is proof of a little more willPower, a little more grace, a little more strength you have developed.

Last week one of my students said that he and his roommate are doing the Plank Challenge, and their goal is 5 minutes.

“My roommate is at about 3 minutes now,” he said, “And when we started he just did 10 seconds.  It’s pretty cool.”

I agree.  That’s fantastic progress.

Bonus tip!  Take a commercial break.

Another student told me that she practices plank during the commercials, when she’s watching TV.


Word of the week: Grace

13 Dec

Does anyone have any idea how hard this is?

No matter how long you manage to hold a strong plank, holding it those extra seconds right before you reach your goal time is tough. Really tough.

It’s hard to emanate grace at times like this.

But that’s the point.

The plank is difficult. For the most part, it is acutely uncomfortable and demands a lot of our physical strength and our mental determination.

Nonetheless, we’re asking you to put on a smile, lift your head, and find a way to complete your goal without cursing, holding your breath, or hating the instructor who got you into this mess in the first place.

Pay attention to opportunities for GRACE

Your capacity for grace can be unlocked in every moment that you most feel like quitting, complaining, leaving, or in some other way removing yourself from the situation at hand. Of course it’s hard to stay focused and work through to the end. That’s why it builds strength, and strength + integrity = GRACE.


Friday check-in: make it look easy.

10 Dec

Advanced Plank Option:  smile!

It’s not easy to make the hard stuff look easy and fun.  That’s where grace comes in.  So for those of you who love a challenge, this is for you:  see if you can smile, laugh, and make your plank appear effortless and full of ease.

Share plank with a friend.

We’ve talked about planking with friends here and here.  And check this out:   willPower & grace® Teacher Trainer, Jennifer DeLuccia and graceful Jodi Vuolo exemplify friendship and teamwork.   They took time to plank while celebrating Jodi’s bachelorette party at The Pool Bar in Atlantic City.  Jennifer provided a strong foundation, and Jodi got to take her plank to new heights!

If you take your plank somewhere fun this weekend, send a photo to

Then look for your plank pix at the World Plank photo gallery.

Stay strong!

Tips for a few more seconds

8 Dec

After five weeks of the challenge, I’ve seen a lot of people struggling to hold their planks.

I don’t know whether everyone in my class has practiced every day, but it looks like they’ve been practicing at least a few times a week. I notice this not because  plank time has dramatically increased, but because there is a different energy around having to do the plank.

Not as many sighs and groans as before. The room no longer fills with dread, but with anticipation.

By now everyone knows that the plank is not so scary.

You always do it on your own terms, and when you do it well, it’s simply empowering. When everyone is up holding their planks, it’s incredible – a room  full of personal determination.

Here are two tips that always help keep the energy up once we’ve passed 1.30.

GO Marcus! 5 whole minutes!


The plank is a static exercise, which means we are engaging a muscle and holding it. This increases tension and blood pressure, and breathing as deeply and evenly as possible helps compensate for this.


For some reason, many people seem to feel that the plank is easier if they let their heads hang down between their shoulders. It’s a resigned kind of position, like “Ok, this is pretty horrible. If I have to do this, I’m going to relax here for a while and let the rest of my body do the work.”

Here’s the thing. We’re all struggling together. When you lift your eyes and see that everyone else is working too, it’s easier to stay up so you can look other people in their eyes and give them support.

Try it, and let us know how it goes.

Plank Sing-Along

6 Dec


I’m feeling very grateful for my plank partner, Sheri, who lives across the world from me and yet posts videos about her plank.  Her encouragement, commitment, playfulness, and passion cross the miles (and kilometers) and give me an extra dose of happy.

Today, I am pleased and proud to post my plank video response.

Feel free to sing along, if you know the words. . .

The willPower Method word of the week is WILLPOWER.

Plank is good way to experience willpower — first by choosing to hold plank, and then by doing it.  Willpower is the decision as well as the action.   It is the strength we have on the inside.

It can’t be measured, but I promise that you have more than you think.

Let’s do this!

3 Dec

I could have spent five minutes doing the dishes, or doing something with my hair, or putting on proper clothes, or unpacking yesterday’s gym bag still full of sweaty clothes.

Instead, I spent five minutes doing my plank.

My previous record was 4 minutes and 1 second, so it was a pretty big leap, and felt much more satisfying than having a clean kitchen or being pretty today. Here’s the video to prove it:

Let’s do this! There’s still plenty of time to work towards your goal. My challenge to you for the weekend: take a picture or a film of your weekend plank. Send your pictures to, and then log on to Let us know if you have a video to share and we can tell you how to upload it.

Have an amazing weekend you can be proud of.