Sparsh Shah, a musician, inspirational speaker, and philanthropist from Iselin, New Jersey, USA, has broken the record for the longest raised leg hold (SS).
On 21 July 2022, nineteen-year-old Sparsh achieved the record title in Edison, New Jersey, USA, when he held both of his legs in a raised position for an outstanding two hours, showing the world that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
This record is part of Guinness World Records' impairment classifications. This initiative introduced 23 new categories to a range of sport, strength and journey records for those with physical, intellectual and visual impairments.
For this record Sparsh had to lay flat on his back with both legs raised together, at least six inches off the ground, for as long as possible.
The exercise is one of the toughest moves an individual can add to their workout routine because it activates and fatigues the hip flexors.
But in Sparsh’s case, it’s even more difficult to maintain the strenuous hold.
That’s because Sparsh has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bone disease; an incurable disease that makes his bones extremely fragile.
Living with the chronic disorder means Sparsh is not able to bear weight on his hands and legs and must manage his health by strengthening his bones and preventing fractures.
"I guess you can say uncertainty has become our friend," said Sparsh.
"With my condition, you never really know when a fracture is going to happen. It can happen while I’m doing the most mundane things."
Sparsh began performing raised leg holds following a recommendation from his doctor.
"My physical therapist told me I had to strengthen my core for my back," said Sparsh.
"So, I started with one to two minutes, and I kept my legs up in the air at a 45-degree angle. When I realized I could hold it for a couple of minutes, I started increasing the time every single day by a minute."
Over time, Sparsh even began to develop a six pack; an achievement he never thought would be possible.
"When we took Sparsh to his annual check up last year, his doctor said in his 35 years of practice, he has never, ever seen anyone achieve what Sparsh has been able to do," said Sparsh’s father, Hiren Shah.
"He was the one who encouraged us to apply for a Guinness World Records title," continued Hiren.
But the path to becoming a record title holder wasn’t simple for Sparsh.
Throughout his life, Sparsh has had more than 140 fractures and multiple rod surgeries and has 22 screws and eight rods implanted throughout his body.
"When I would have fractures or was trying to keep consistency in times where I wasn’t able to, I would have to, in a way, go back to square one," said Sparsh.
"It has happened where I’ve been set back but it’s like the motto 'When you fall down seven times, get up eight.' I just have to get back up every time."
Rising back up stronger than before is something Sparsh has gotten quite good at.
Originally, he intended to set the record for the longest raised leg hold (SS) by holding his legs in the air for a full hour, then realized he could hold the position for even longer.
"During the last part of the attempt, I was negotiating with my dad to keep going longer," said Sparsh.
"We were originally planning to reach an hour because that was the average that I was doing every day. But once the hour passed, I knew I could do more."
Hiren was hesitant at first because he didn’t want Sparsh to overexert or injure himself in the process.
However, knowing Sparsh has the mental fortitude to achieve anything he sets his sights on, Hiren supported his son’s decision.
"Ultimately it’s about supporting your kids and their vision," said Hiren.
"Something I tell all parents, whether they have special kids or not, is that it’s about supporting them and helping them follow their passion."
Sparsh hopes his record title will spark a health campaign and inspire those with and without disabilities to go the distance when it comes to their fitness.
"My name means 'touch' in Sanskrit. So, my vision is to 'sparsh' people’s hearts, whether that’s through my music, motivational speaking, philanthropy, or as a Guinness World Records title holder."
Sparsh also intends to continue testing his own limits by training and attempting to continuously break his own record.
And for those individuals with unique abilities who hope to someday hold a record title, Sparsh’s advice is to give it their best shot.
"You never know what you can or can’t do until you try," said Sparsh.
"'Able-bodied' and 'disabled' are literally nothing but labels that have been put on us by society, so never think of yourself as disabled. You ARE able-bodied in your own way, and everyone is differently abled."