Marine veteran George E. Hood is no stranger to breaking world records for incredible fitness feats.
The 62-year-old says he’s a 12-time world record holder. And, once again, he proved age isn’t a factor in being the world’s best.
The Marine veteran, who served as an officer with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, set the world record for “longest time in an abdominal plank position (male)” with a time of 8 hours, 15 minutes, 15 seconds, Guinness World Records reported.
“I believe in the plank as a total body-conditioning exercise,” Hood told Marine Corps Times on Friday. “I have learned a lot from training in that pose. It’s the best exercise I have ever done.”
Hood first beat the record in 2011 with a time of 1 hour, 20 minutes and 25 seconds, according to the organization. His recent time beat that of Mao Weidong of Beijing, China, who had lasted 8 hours, 1 minute in the plank position in 2016 — outlasting Hood in that competition.
After Marine Corps service, Hood served as a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service before his retirement as a supervisory special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He then undertook a stint as a law enforcement professional adviser to U.S. military forces in Afghanistan in 2008.
“I got involved in this because I was training anyway with the Marines," Hood said. "At the beginning, this is about me, training to do my best. It runs in my blood!”
Hood began professional competitions with jumping rope and stationary cycling before deciding on planking, which became a Guinness World Record event in 2010 and recently was added as an option in the Marine Corps’ Physical Fitness Test.
He has 16 official attempts with 13 world records, spanning from 1986 to his most recent achievement in February, according to his count. Each record has been verified by at least one international agency.
The fitness fanatic also holds the international world record for planking at a time of 10 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds, accomplished in June 2018 near his home in the Chicagoland area, his website states. He also earned the world record for “The Most Plank Time Accumulated in 24 Hours," a new category and record, with a time of 18 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds.
Both feats were accomplished at a 24-hour fundraising event at the Indian Boundary YMCA in Downers Grove, Illinois, where Hood was fitness director. Proceeds benefited the YMCA’s “Urban Warriors” program, which paired military veterans with violence-exposed youths for mentoring opportunities.
“I just need to inspire one,” Hood told the Aurora Beacon-News at the time. “One person, one reader, one club member. If I just inspire one to change their life without putting a hand on them, I’ve accomplished my goal.”
According to Guinness World Records, Hood completed 674,000 situps and 270,000 pushups and endured more than 2,100 hours of planking in preparation for the recent attempt.
Hood, the father of three sons — two of whom also served in the Marines — dedicated his recent, record-breaking performance to veterans’ mental health awareness. He completed the 8-hour session at 515 Fitness in Plainfield, Illinois, which boasts an “innovative, patented approach” to mental health counseling with physical fitness.
“I had the experience of going to Afghanistan, and it was the first time I had ever seen combat death, and I saw what these guys go through. That was a real eye-opener for me,” Hood told Marine Corps Times over the phone. “These guys come home, and they think, ‘We are Marines. We can handle it.’ But those experiences, the trauma that they go through is real.”
Through endurance competitions and setting world records, Hood said he aims to be an example for using exercise in healing.
“[Physical training] — that’s my anchor. That’s what grounds me. I’ll hold that [planking] pose for any Marine or civilian that walks through that gym door,” he said. “There are storms we go through everyday that we can weather. I want them to know there’s no stigma anymore.”
Dylan Gresik is a reporting intern for Military Times through Northwestern University's Journalism Residency program.