Core strength is an essential element of successful running, and Galvestonian Tatiana Verega is the new leader in harnessing that strength and determination. Last week, she became the Guinness World Record holder for maintaining a plank position for three hours, 45 minutes, and 21 seconds.

Verega set the new record at the Galveston Women’s Conference. “There were so many people around,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting that people would be paying so much attention, and that they would find it motivating, but afterward they were coming up to me and telling me they were going to start exercising.

Motivating people is nothing new to Verega, a professional dancer, choreographer and owner of DLS Dance Studio. “Everything I do is to inspire and to prove that limits are just things we create.”

Verega, a native of Moldova, came to Galveston in 2012 on a student visa. “Since I couldn’t work, I volunteered to teach kids, and that led to opening the dance studio once I had permanent status. I love not just teaching kids, but mentoring them.”

For anyone who wants to add planks into their core-strengthening routine, Verega advises starting at the beginning. “First, get your push-up right, even if you can only do one a day,” she said. “Beginners can start with a push-up keeping their knees on the floor. Push-ups are not easy, but they’re not impossible for anyone.”

She also recommends leg flutters, a modified crunch done on the floor that starts with lifting legs and shoulders, then making small straight-leg kicks as fast as possible. It may seem hard at first, but Verega encourages perseverance. “You need to want to be uncomfortable; it will take you to the next level,” she said.

Verega’s strong core, dancer’s legs and mental toughness have carried her through three marathons, and she still has running goals ahead. “I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. For me, it’s harder to be fast than to have endurance,” she said.

Still, the goal seems within reach. “I don’t wait for someone to tell me something’s possible,” she concluded.

Bernice Torregrossa: bernice92@aol.com

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