An exercise challenge started by a Tech Mahindra executive has gone viral around the world.
New Delhi: After the #HumFitTohIndiaFit challenge, that saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several Bollywood stars and sportspersons promoting health, it is now the #oneminuteplankchallenge that has captured the imagination of fitness freaks, specially IT professionals, in India.
A simple search for the hashtag on LinkedIn and Twitter reveals a number of videos of Indian IT professionals — all genders, cultures, ages and sizes — across Pune, Hyderabad, as well as the US and Canada dropping to the floor on all fours.
They are holding a ‘plank’ position – a torso-strengthening exercise.
How the challenge took off
The exercise challenge was started on 1 November by Srikanth Srinivasan, a Hyderabad-based Tech Mahindra head of division for retail digital solutions, who has worked with the firm for nearly five years.
“I started this as a stretch-out fun activity that takes only one minute. Me and my colleague Joshua, much to the amusement of onlookers, started doing planks in the office corridors. Frankly, I did not expect the level of impact it had on colleagues who joined us voluntarily every day,” Srinivasan told ThePrint.
We are into week 6 day 2 and nothing is more inspiring than seeing new #plankchamps join us everyday in #Hyderabad and from around the world. We meet we plank we go. Everyday at 1130 am.@KTRTRS pic.twitter.com/UPAwnk2c9r
— Srikanth (@sinnavaris) December 11, 2018
The mechanical engineering graduate and marathon runner said he first uploaded a video of Tech Mahindra workers doing planks on 20 November.
“After I uploaded the first video on LinkedIn, I was so excited when it got 250 views. Within weeks, our videos touched [close to] 1 million views and teams from around the world joined us in #oneminuteplankchallenge,” Srinivasan said.
As part of the challenge, the firm’s workers meet at 11.30 am to do the exercise for one minute and then get back to work. “We meet, we plank, we go” is the mantra of the challenge.
Executing perfect planks is not for the physically-frail, requiring your body to be maintained in a horizontal position balanced only on elbows and toes, with stomach and butt muscles tightened simultaneously for the maximum duration possible.
Typically, a plank pose is maintained for 60 seconds.
Since the first video, Srinivasan said, he has been sharing these videos daily on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The fitness challenge seems to have been picked up by IT professionals in other countries too.
“Going by what I see on social media, more than 20 companies and teams around the world have joined the #oneminuteplankchallenge. It would be difficult for me to tell how many individuals but we are definitely in thousands,” said Srinivasan.
As we finish unbroken week 7, we want to take this opportunity to wish everyone Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a very happy and healthy new year. We meet, we plank, we go. Everyday at 1130 am. pic.twitter.com/oYx3deEXLA
— Srikanth (@sinnavaris) December 21, 2018
Tech Mahindra employees in Hyderabad, Pune, Canada and Detroit, in addition to other Mahindra Group companies like Mahindra Comviva, have taken up the activity.
Other company executives who have been inspired to join in include those from Tata Teleservices, CUNA Mutual Group and Morrison-Maierle (US firms), Platform WOW (Netherlands) and Joshi BizTech (Gujarat), said Srinivasan.
— Espay (@espay) November 27, 2018
Asked if employees could get bored of the challenge, Srinivasan said, “It is absolutely continuing at Tech Mahindra and we are seeing new volunteers join us every day. We have a simple rule to grow the participation (sic). Each member tries to bring one (more) member to join us every day.”
A similar viral plank challenge was the #36SecPlankChallenge by insurance company Bajaj Allianz as part of a health awareness campaign.
In November, Bajaj Allianz set a new Guinness World Record in Pune for the “most people holding the abdominal plank position” for one minute. It had 2,353 people maintaining the position, breaking the March 2017 record set in China, which had seen 1,779 people participating.
A positive trend
After the harmful Blue Whale Challenge and the vapid Kiki Challenge, the plank challenge is a timely trend and indicates increasing health awareness.
A December 2018 report from Bengaluru research firm RedSeer Management Consulting said that the city-based information technology (IT) sector loses $3.5 billion worth of productivity every year due to the unhealthy lifestyle habits of its employees.
According to Nasscom, India’s trade association of the IT and BPO (business process outsourcing) industry, the country’s IT sector employs about 3.9 million people.