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The planking phenomenon reaches Monmouth

By Mackenzie Mahler '15
09/06/2011
Monmouth College junior Abby McGuire demonstrates to the campus community "what planking was meant to be."
Monmouth College students aspire to be many things in life. But while they’re taking time off from studying to be doctors, lawyers and teachers, some simply shoot for becoming a wooden plank.

The goal of the new “planking” craze is to lie face down on an object with arms at the side, to do so in the oddest place possible, and to take a picture of it. Young adults everywhere are joining in on this new trend, and more than 700,000 people “like” the Facebook page dedicated to planking.

The phenomenon’s origin has yet to be confirmed, but according to a United Kingdom newspaper, two teenage boys started it in the late 1990s. It didn’t begin to catch on until around 2007, however, when the boys created a Facebook page.

Two years later, the craze received even more attention when a group of emergency staff was suspended for planking while working a late-night shift. Shortly thereafter, planking became an international phenomenon and spread to places like Australia, the U.S., Ireland and France, all thanks to Facebook.

Facebook is where sisters Abby and Claire McGuire – a Monmouth College junior and sophomore, respectively – first heard about planking. They noticed friends taking odd pictures and wanted to try it out for themselves. During the summer, the McGuire girls made the short walk to campus from their Monmouth home with one goal in mind: plank anywhere and everywhere. They planked on rocks, bike racks and the Monmouth College sign. Claire even managed to plank in a tree.

Planking isn’t just fun and games, said the sisters. It can actually be quite the workout.

“It’s so hard!” said Abby. “It definitely works your ab muscles!”

In order to plank in these unusual places, people have to use a lot of strength to keep their bodies flat, especially if the object isn’t supporting their back. That is what makes planking on irregular objects such a great feat.

According to Facebook, there are several rules to planking:

• You must always lie face down, while ensuring that your face remains expressionless for the duration of the plank.

• Your legs must remain straight, and together with toes pointed.

• Your arms must be placed by your side, held straight and fingers pointed.

• You must make it known that you are planking. Saying, “I am planking” usually gets this across. Sternly announcing it will ensure a good result.

• Your safety should always be considered. Never put yourself at undue risk.

• Every plank that is captured must be named.

No one really knows why planking is so popular. Some people think it’s just plain odd, while others enjoy it for just that reason. One thing is for sure, though. It’s sprouting up everywhere, including Monmouth’s campus.