Aaron Edgley

Punch In, Punch Out

For most of us, breaking a world record is only something we dream about, but for Aaron Edgley, it’s closer than you would think. Aaron grew up in Kingston, Ontario and, at the age of 27, is currently running his own business which he built from scratch. He is a national level powerlifter coach who is dedicated to the young athletes he trains, and an inspiration to many. Although he is currently an elite athlete, role model and successful business owner, life was not always easy for Aaron. He was expelled from school in the ninth grade, went through three Second Chance School Programs to receive his high school diploma. He was in and out of trouble as a young adult, was even arrested a few times, and suffered from anxiety and depression.

At the age of 22, after a brawl outside of Stage’s Night Club, Aaron realized that he had two options: to continue living the way he was and possibly end up hurt or in jail, or to make some changes in his life. Aaron chose to make some changes and began training in the gym. It didn’t take long for him to realize that going to the gym not only improved his mood but taught him discipline as well. The discipline he was learning in the gym began to carry over to other aspects of his life, which lead him to take better care of his physical health and eventually seek help for his mental health as well. 

Aaron first got the idea to attempt a world record after listening to David Goggins, an accomplished endurance athlete, on the Joe Rogen podcast. David used to hold a world record for completing 4,030 pull ups in 17 hours. This caught Aaron’s attention and he began to do some research, research that later brought him to a pull up artist, John Orth, who stated that any human being capable of doing more than 150-200 pull ups every day was considered elite. At the time, Aaron was doing between 100-200 pull ups a day in the gym as part of his workout. He wasn’t aware that this was considered impressive because he didn’t have much to compare it to. However, after his research into John Orth, and a look at the current world records, he believed he could beat one. 

“When people say I’m crazy or I’m insane, that’s how I know I made it. I know that I must be doing some bad*ss sh*t.” – Aaron Edgley

Video by Meg Kirkpatrick

As a mental health advocate, Aaron decided that if he was going to put his health and body on the line, he wanted to do it as a way to help others in an attempt to spearhead change. So, he decided to reach out to Ampai Thammachack, co-founder of a non-profit mental health organization, Step Above Stigma, to help him achieve his goal. Originally, Aaron was hoping to attempt a record of 10,000 pull ups in 24 hours, which was scheduled to take place back in March of 2020. However, after a bicep tear three weeks before the event in early March, the attempt was called off and he made the decision to attempt two back to back marathons, followed by a goal of at least 2000 pull ups instead. Having shifted his goal, he began to shift his training.

Now that his record focuses on a combination of running and pull ups, he has to train two systems instead of one, and there’s not a day when training either is easy. A normal day for Aaron begins with a 10km run in the morning and ends with 150-300 pull ups in the evening. He also does a variety of other exercises such as bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, chest presses and heavy grip holds to keep his training more balanced. His training regimen also includes a weekly hell session where he completes 300-700 pull ups and a 20-30 km run in a 4-6-hour period. Given that his record attempt will take place over a 24-hour period, he has also included 20 sleep deprived sessions over the past 14 months. One of these sessions typically looks like a 20 km run beginning at 3:00 a.m. followed by a couple hundred pull ups after he deprives himself of sleep for 20-24 hours. 

On the day of the event, Aaron will start off by running two back to back marathons, which he anticipates will take him between eight and nine hours to complete. Besides refuelling on Gatorade and a 100-calorie gel containing amino acids and carbohydrates every hour and two to three pitstops to change shoes, he has no intention of breaking until after he’s completed both marathons. After he has completed the running portion, he’ll take a 30-minute break to refuel by eating Nutella before beginning the pull up portion. He emphasises that Nutella will be a much-needed item on the day of the event as it’s easy on the digestive system, calorie dense and tastes absolutely glorious when his body is in a survival state. He aims to complete sets of six pullups every minute for approximately 50 minutes, followed by a 10-minute rest period for as long as possible. Although his goal is to hit at least 2,000 pullups, Aaron will push through until the 24-hour period has lapsed, completing as many pull ups as he can manage. 

Having the physical ability to complete this world record is only half of what one needs to succeed. When pushing one’s body to its limits, there is a high level of pain and discomfort you have to be able to mentally overcome. Although Aaron has purposefully trained in less than ideal conditions and pushed himself through his hell sessions to help prepare him for the day of, he has also assembled an amazing team to help support him mentally. This team is filled with many outstanding individuals, such as one of his mentors, Marcus Neiman, and his father. He has made it clear that his team is there to support him and help give him the motivation to push through to the very end, not to convince him to stop.

To say that Aaron is an extraordinary human being is an understatement, and if you have had the chance to meet him personally as I have, you would know that he is also incredibly humble. He continues to emphasise that he’s not special, and he says this in hopes of encouraging others. His self discipline, motivation and work ethic are all skills he mastered through practice, dedication and hard work. He is a firm believer that anyone can achieve their goals if they’re willing to put in the work, or as he says, “punch in, punch out.”

Through all this, Aaron wants to push the message that you can live the life you want to live by taking the right steps. For him, this may have been primarily through exercise, but it can also be talking to a friend or seeking help from a therapist. Although he is a strong believer that pushing yourself in a healthy way, especially though exercise, is the best form of self care, he encourages you to find comfort in discomfort, whatever that may be for you.

The world record attempt of most kilometers ran, and pull ups completed within 24 hours will be November 4th – November 5th. Aaron is aiming to complete two back-to-back marathons (80km), followed by 2,000+ pull ups. This event is 100% non-profit and over $1400 has already been raised, with all proceeds going to the Black Health Alliance. 

If you would like to help support Aaron and donate to the cause, you can find his Go-Fund-Me here.

Check out the promotional video created for the event by Jade Courchesne (Instagram:@jadecourchesne)