King of the Guinness Book
Ashrita Furman has captured the public’s imagination by breaking Guinness world records under outrageous conditions and in the most exotic places. He currently holds 26 Guinness records, including the record for having the most records, and has broken more than 93 records overall.
Just last year, Ashrita realized his dream of breaking a record in all 7 continents by successfully racing the fastest mile while hula hooping at Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the Australian desert. He has also pogo stick jumped underwater in the Amazon River for 3 hours and 40 minutes; climbed 16 miles up and down the foothills of Mount Fuji in Japan on a pogo stick; and somersaulted the entire 12 ¼ mile length of Paul Revere’s ride in Massachusetts.
What compels this 49-year old health food store manager from Queens, NY, to perform these fantastic feats? “I’m trying to show others that our human capacity is unlimited if we can truly believe in ourselves,” he says. Ashrita maintains that while some of his records may draw more laughter than respect, each one requires a great deal of determination, concentration and fitness.
At 5’10” and a muscular 170 lbs., Ashrita has completed 4,495 deep-knee bends in an hour; balanced a milk bottle on his head while speed-walking more than 80 miles; and cranked out 8,555 crunches in one hour on an abdominal frame in Paris, France.
He’s been practicing meditation for more than 25 years and sees his records as a way to demonstrate the benefits of this ancient Eastern art. The name “Ashrita” is Sanskrit,meaning “protected by God.” It was given to him by his meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy, whom Ashrita credits for his remarkable endurance and strength. “I am not a natural athlete, but my teacher has shown me that if one can be in touch with one’s inner spirit, anything is possible.”
Ashrita has pioneered several new activities, including "landrowing”, using a converted indoor rowing machine with wheels to travel on the road (1500 miles in Bali); underwater juggling or “gluggling” using 3 lead-filled balls (more than 48 minutes in an aquarium full of fish in New Zealand); and standing on a Swiss (stability) ball (more than 3 hours 30 minutes in Indonesia).
As should be clear from some of his more offbeat records, along with Ashrita’s message of “self-transcendence” is the desire to make people laugh. He has been featured on national television in countries all over the world and in the U.S. on such programs as Good Morning America (on April Fools Day, Ashrita introduced aqua pogo as the next exercise craze to sweep the nation), 20/20, Oprah (Ashrita had to be escorted off the show by the paramedics after eating the world’s hottest pepper), CNN’s Primetime News, You Bet Your Life (to Bill Cosby’s dismay, Ashrita discovered the comedian’s amazing talent for milk bottle balancing), and The Learning Channel’s The World’s Most Awesome Record Breakers.
One of his latest achievements was the balancing of a pool billiard stick for 11,3 km around the Pyramids in Ägypt, and he is always looking for new challenges.