Ron (A)Batcher, man of Abvember (DC)

Four November Project DC tribe members partner on wet concrete outside Audi Field. Each person is stacked on top of the person below them like a plank sandwich. Ron Batcher is on the bottom of the plank pile. The tribe members are smiling and laughing.

I feel guilty for not writing 25,000 words about this guy. After all, he did 25,000 crunches — in one day.

Yes, that is not a typo. In the days leading up to last month, a challenge was posted to the November Project universe — Abvember. The premise was pretty simple: challenge yourself to do at least 10 minutes of planking one day, 10 sets of 10 push-ups the next day, and then 10 sets of 10 crunches the following day. And then repeat the rotation 10 times throughout the month’s 30 days (or however many days you could).

Of course it involved a Google Sheet, because what doesn’t involve a Google Sheet these days? And just as important, that sheet had TABS that calculated — using a formula that some of us understood, and many did not — leaderboards for November Project communities and for individuals.

Enter Ron Batcher.

Ron Batcher leans back on a lime green yoga mat and smiles at the camera. He is wearing a headset at work while doing crunches for Abvember.

“At first, I was just going to do the daily goal,” Ron said, mentioning that he had been running so much (a shocker in the NP world!!) that he had neglected such things as hundreds of daily push-ups and crunches.

But then, Ron, who lives west of Baltimore and wakes at 3:50am to take a train to DC for NP workouts, noticed those Google Sheet tabs.

“It was all downhill after they added the individual goal tab,” Ron said, “because I am very competitive when it comes to things I know I have a chance of winning.”

Ron’s competitive desire did two things — it helped stoke an incredible three-man race for the top spot between him, Tom Barry of Madison, WI, and Mat Duffy of Malaysia. It also motivated the hell out of the rest of the NPDC group, all three leaders included, to be our best selves and do as many days of planking, push-up-ing and crunching as possible (all told, 17 group members did all 30 days).

All of a sudden, Ron’s November days were structured around Abvember. He would max out his mornings at NP (break in the action? Do 10 push-ups), take work breaks twice an hour for exercise, and then once he returned home via the 1-hour, 40-minute commute, he would drive his family nuts with evenings dominated by Abvember.

“Throughout the day, I stuck to an every 30 minutes do one minute of whatever exercise there was for the day (routine),” Ron said, “then when I got home it was go, go, go until I couldn’t keep my eyes open and get enough sleep to wake up at 3:50am to start the cycle again.”

Ron’s craziest plank day: 125

(that’s more than two hours!)

Ron’s busiest push-up day: 3,490

(I’m not sure I’ve done that many during four years of NP!)

Ron’s most hectic crunches day: 25,000

TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND CRUNCHES IN A DAY

“My favorite thing was seeing how far I could take my body before it gave me the middle finger,” Ron said. “I then gave it the middle finger back and kept going.”

…..

To take on what Ron was doing during November isn’t just insane; it takes an ABsurd amount of dedication and discipline. Those traits have been evident in Ron since he began coming to NPDC workouts in 2017 on the recommendation of his supervisor, Ken Keck (also an NP regular). Ron had transitioned from running his own design and construction company, a job where he was on his feet constantly, to an office job. He didn’t feel as fit and needed a new physical activity routine.

Thus began the 3:50am alarms and the long train rides into DC. In the beginning, Ron had a hard time making it to workouts on time, but soon he had the timing figured out and became a constant presence at workouts. He started running and running more, too. Not surprisingly, he made some really good friends, as well.

“NP is self-esteem I have never had before,” Ron said. “NP means pushing myself to my limits to see where they are and pushing to get past them. NP has made me a runner. NP means friendships that now feel like family.”

Ron Batcher and another NPDC tribe member are in the middle of a sit-up, with their hands clapping in the middle of each other. The sun is rising in their background behind the Washington Monument.

This all set the tone for Abvember, and Barry and Duffy stoked Ron’s competitive flame. He went from 540 push-ups … to 700 … then 800 … then 1,000. Eleven minutes of planking — A LOT for anyone — on Nov. 1 became 75 on Nov. 13, then 90 on the 19th. Ron did calm down to a meager 10 minutes of planking on Thanksgiving — maybe the family forgave him that day. The crunches — well, he only had one day, Nov. 3, under 1,000.

The three-man race went back and forth. Ron kept pushing … up. Literally.

Ron Batcher is pictured in plank position in his kitchen while wearing a light green apron.

“The banter between the three of us was a blast,” Ron said. “I feel like I have a couple best friends now that I have never met in person. We really pushed each other to one-up the next. I will have to admit it got a little insane.”

You think??

Yet this was far from just about Ron Batcher. Somehow, someway, Ron found the time in between crunches to rally on his DC team. He wrote words of encouragement almost every day in the open spreadsheet cells next to people’s totals, giving them kudos for for their planks, push-ups and crunches. Where were all these words of wisdom coming from, I wondered at the time. Could this be another Google Sheet formula? I should’ve known.

His message on Nov. 29 was simple. In each row next to each name he wrote, “And you’re awesome.”

Thanks to Ron’s leadership, NPDC engaged in an epic battle with NP Chicago that came down to the final minutes. Think Lakers-Celtics, Yankees-Red Sox, Caps-Pens, name a rivalry. This competition was HEATED. While many (like me) didn’t understand the scoring formula, Ron encouraged every last person to the finish line. Chicago ultimately was declared champions by Abvember HQ, but there was no head-hanging in DC.

Ron found a way to outduel Barry and Duffy and keep his sanity, finishing the month having done the following:

505 minutes of planking

13,700 push-ups

109,000 crunches

As a community, DC knocked out 5,240 minutes of planks, 73,095 push-ups, and 217,920 crunches.

Ron Batcher is pictured in plank position while working on his laptop in his home.

So when November finally concluded, the clock striking midnight last Friday, how did Ron feel?

“Fantastic,” he said. “Better than ever, literally.”

But now he’s resting during December, correct?

Don’t be silly. Ron is taking part in the #NP_YYZ Holiday Challenge 2018. Interested? Proceed with caution HERE.

But seriously, thank you, Ron. Thank you for being crazy. Thank you for being insane. And THANK YOU for inspiring with both your planks/push-ups/crunches and with your words and presence at November Project DC workouts. We are oh, so glad you’re here and on our team!

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