Meet Ashrita Furman, holder of the most Guinness World Records
Published Wednesday, September 2, 2015 9:11AM EDT
In the past three decades, Ashrita Furman has played more games of hopscotch and somersaulted further than anybody else in the world.
With 577 world records under his belt, Furman has also racked up more Guinness World Records than anybody else.
The 60-year-old was crowned the person with the most world records in December 2011.
He currently holds 196 titles, ranging from building the largest popcorn sculpture (it was more than six metres tall) to completing the fastest half marathon while balancing a litre bottle of milk on his head (it took him two hours and 33 minutes).
Most recently, he set a record for balancing the tallest object on his nose: a 15.9 metre pole which left a gash across the middle of his face.
But the health food store owner from New York City says he wasn't always so determined to be the best. While he says he had a "huge fascination" with Guinness World Records, he didn't originally believe he could achieve one.
"I was not athletic at all as a kid," he said on CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.
But then, in his teens, Furman became interested in meditation. He said his newfound spirituality inspired him to go out of his comfort zone.
He set his first record in 1979, when he completed 27,000 jumping jacks.
"I had so much energy after meditation and I needed some kind of way to express it," he said. "I found that using the different meditation techniques, I could pretty much do anything I set my mind to."
Furman's jumping jacks record kicked off a string of hundreds of other accomplishments.
For some records, such as balancing objects on his nose or chin, Furman says he discovered that he had a natural talent.
Other records, such as cutting apples in the air with a samurai sword, required intense and lengthy training.
Of all his titles, perhaps the most difficult was somersaulting for almost 20 kilometres straight, he said.
The rolls required a combination of strength and endurance. And, he said, the constant tumbling made him nauseous.
He was sick four times along the way.
"That was really tough," he said. "It was very, very, difficult."
Furman pushed through using techniques he'd learned in meditation.
In the end, he said, breaking records has been worth the tough training.
"I love the challenge of finding some incredible thing and then training for it," he said. "I feel that happiness comes not from success but from progress."
Beyond having to push himself physically, Furman has had other setbacks.
According to his website, his attempt to break the record for underwater juggling in an aquarium ended when a shark "deliberately bumped into him," hitting the balls out of his hands.
Still, Furman says he plans to keep setting goals and breaking records, even as he enters his 60s.
"It makes me happy," he said. "It's fulfilling. It keeps me fit, and I just love it."