Ant Hanna may be a man on a mission, but his bid to do 1000 push-ups for 1000 days is about much more than getting fit.
The Scarborough resident, who has clocked up more than 420,000 push-ups in 420 days, said the challenge he has set himself has improved his mental and physical health.
It all started in May last year, during the COVID-19 lockdown when Ant listened to a podcast about a boxer who did 1000 push-ups a day when he was in prison and won a fight he was not expected to win.
“I thought I wonder what would happen if I did that and I’m locked in my house, like he’s locked in his cell. So, I undertook his training regime,” Ant explains.
“The plan was to do it for a year and I learnt so much about myself mentally and about grit and resilience. I thought, maybe I should keep going and extend it to 1000 (days).
“I didn’t go straight into the 1000, I started at 350 and each day I added 50 until I got to 1000 and then when I got to 1000 I started counting and that was May 6.”
It used to take him one hour and 20 minutes, but now takes about half an hour at his gym with a view – Scarborough Beach Park.
He is generally at the beach by 5am, preferring to get the task over and done with before his day starts.
The discipline of this routine has helped him deal with obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.
“I found it has really helped in bring up my mood and having that order. Once I’ve done it, I can deal with the chaos of the day,” he says.
“It’s changed the way I do a lot of things. I get up early and now I’ve started a do-list where I put that on top because it’s the worst thing to do and I do it straight away.
“Half that list is done before the kids even wake up, so I’ve become really more productive just by creating this habit and now it’s created new habits.”
Ant has been a firefighter for about eight years and was a police negotiator and tactical operative in Victoria, but the past 12 months have taught him more about himself.
“It’s been a really interesting experiment … my mind has totally changed on what we’re actually capable of. If you salami slice it down – just get through this set, just get through this day,” he says.
“I know it’s a little bit crazy, excessive. It’s a big effort but that’s why I’m continuing it. It seems every month, I’m learning a way to better negotiate life through such a simple thing I’ve started.
“I’ve learnt that discipline equals freedom. I’ve you’re disciplined in the way you train, you can do physical things better and you recover quicker.”
The challenge has also made him more productive in other aspects of his life and reinforced his view that quitting is not an option.
“Results come from sustained efforts of being uncomfortable. So, it’s about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he says.
The benefits of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is a message he is keen to share with young people via school visits, his Instagram page and his second book.
His first book, will be released soon and looks at his journey with obsessive compulsive disorder, the perils of quitting and the benefits of sticking it out.
“I’m trying to teach kids about not quitting at the school talks. I was a pretty good track and field athlete and won three national championships for pole vault (juniors) and then I broke a leg playing footy,” he explains
“I came back and did the Pacific Games and came second, which was alright after the injury. The kid who beat me was Steve Hooker, and after that I worked so hard to get back, I was burnt out, I needed a break and I quit.
“He went on and won the Olympics. Me and him are still mates. It was a really good lesson. I was better or equivalent at that age and I had … something was uncomfortable, I broke a leg and I wasn’t resilient enough and mentally mature enough to understand that you can come back from that. I quit and he didn’t.”
Quitting is not an option in his bid to do one million push-ups and it is helping him manage his mental health better.
“I’ve been able to control the (obsessive) compulsions for a number of years now, but the thoughts are still there. When I’m more calm and relaxed, I can combat that those thoughts easier,” he says.
Doing 1000 push-ups at the start of the day has helped.
“By having the order before the chaos, it’s a lot easier not to get worked up in that,” he says.
“It slows your mind down, because you’re tired.”
Follow Mr Hanna’s journey on Instagram @anthanna_ or his website
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