BY PATTI SELLS
News-Telegram Feature Writer
A two mile swim, followed by a 12 mile run, 12 mile hike, 1250 push-ups,1250 leg lifts, 1250 jumping jacks, a 110 mile bike ride, 20 mile
row, 20 miles on the elliptical, 3250 abdominal crunches and 300,000 pounds of weight lifted using bench press, lateral pulls, seated rows, tricep
extension and bicep curls; just another record day in the life of Rob Powell, four time Guinness World Record holder and four time World Fitness
He can be found these days right here in Sulphur Springs, Texas helping people get into shape at the Sulphur Springs Athletic Club.
"I am retired as an athlete, for the most part, besides the occasional charity event," explained Powell, who said he is entering a new chapter in
his life. "I am now moving back to private coach and personal trainer. Seeing people shape up and young athletes reach their potential and pass
that information and success on is the real reward." Powell, who has been called the greatest extreme fitness and endurance athlete in history,
has over 150 course and world records involving fitness, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, climbing, hiking, triathlons, weight lifting,
calisthenics, track and field and martial arts, including his four Guinness certified world records and four world fitness championship
titles in four consecutive years, 2001-2004.
For Powell, the son of James and Betty Powell, being healthy and fit has always been a way of life. He grew up in Dry Creek, a small
ranching community in Hunt County. His family ran cattle there and in the surrounding counties of Hopkins and Rains. "Some of my best
memories are of running the shaded dirt roads of Hopkins County in the summertime," recalled Powell. "I remember eating wild berries
right off the vines that grew along the fence line."
A natural-born athlete, Powell earned scholarships for his athletic ability at Quinlan High School. He went on to graduate from Texas Tech University
with a bachelor of arts and sciences degree with a double major in history and physical education. "I coached across the state of Texas as an assistant and
head coach, and have been fortunate to have one state championship, two regional titles,16 district titles, and five city titles in football, basketball, track and
cross country," he said.
It was the year 2000 when Powell learned of the Guinness Record for "The World's Fittest Man," held by Joe Decker. Before him, title holders were
martial artist, Bruce Lee, and triathlete, Mark Allen. The 24-hour endurance challenge, according to Powell, was equivalent to what he would do in a weekend
workout. Therefore, he developed his own series of physical tests and determined he could not only break the record,but add as much as 25 percent to the event.
After training three months Powell broke Decker's record on Oct. 28, 2001, by completing the course in 22 hours, 11 minutes and 40 seconds, even after adding
distances, weights and disciplines. On Oct. 27, 2002 he broke his own 2001 record with a time of 19 hours, 17 minutes and 38 seconds. " It took a lot of
determination, focus and sacrifice," Powell said. "Those are the three best words to describe it. The rowing was torture."
Joe Decker copyrighted the title of "The World's Fittest Man," therefore Guinness renamed the event to the "Physical Fitness Challenge" and asked him to
write and record the rules for it. In doing so, Powell created his own new sport-The World Fitness Championships, (WFC). Called "the ultimate extreme sport."
"It may one day take over triathlons as the #1 multiple sport event," said Powell. "Everyone sees its potential. There is even talk of the WFC someday being an
Olympic event." The first World Fitness Championships was held in October of 2003.
Powell set his third world record with a time of 18 hours, 36 minutes and 15 seconds. He gained his fourth the following year with a time of 18 hours, 15
minutes and two seconds."I did none of these athletic performances for the recognition of records," he said. "but to prove the limitations that science puts on
mankind were wrong. I proved it to myself, that it could be done and I could do it. No one can ever take that away from me."
The 2004 WFC had 380 applicants, but only three others, besides himself completed the event. "Few qualify, most withdraw and others drop out during the
competition," said Powell. To compete, participants must complete a two mile swim, 10 mile run, 10 mile hike, 500 pop-ups, 500 hanging leg lifts, 100 mile cycle,
20 mile row, 20 mile elliptical, 3000 abdominal crunches and 300,000 pounds of weight using only the upper body- in that order, and all within 24-hours.
"I have always had many theories about conditioning and training," said Powell."There are 24-hours in a day. I always tell people 'Make one hour yours to
take care of yourself and be fit-just for you to be happier and healthier''. "Being fit makes all aspects of your life better'', according to Powell. "You can spend
as little as 45 minutes a day and get back in shape," he emphasized."Getting in shape is not that tough. All it takes is commitment and patience."
Teaching and preaching against the use of performance enhancing drugs, Powell stresses, especially to the younger athletes that you do not need them.
"I always tell them, 'All you need is Mama's good cooking."
Training people from Dallas to San Antonio Powell said he decided he would like to try it close to home where he has roots. With his success, Powell said he feels that he has a responsibility to help everyone looking to obtain their fitness goals and get in shape. Powell has three DVDs; one offering fitness facts, opinions and advice, another containing footage from all four of his world records, how the WFC all began and its progression, and the last on training for the WFC.
Helping people to live richer, fuller lives is what it is all about, according to Powell. "Just knowing that you've made a real difference in peoples lives makes all the sacrifice worth it," he said.
For more information log on to www.worldfitnesschampion.net.