Greg Cochran says in his workout routines he prefers lifting objects such as tires and sledgehammers to the usual dumbbells. And the 40-year-old recently proved to be pretty good at it.
Earlier this month, the Gainesville personal trainer managed to flip a 555-pound tire 203 times at a fundraiser event on Browns Bridge Road. The feat earned him the honor "most tire flips in one hour using a 555-pound tire" by the World Records Academy.
"It really sank in when I saw it in writing," Cochran said. "I thought ‘I can enjoy it now.'"
The record had never been attempted before, which made Cochran the first to claim it. The World Record Academy is similar to the Guinness Book of World Records but is based in the United States, while Guinness is based in London.
Cochran said he began prepping for the record attempt by adding more tire flips to his daily routine. Cochran, a personal trainer at Fitness Forum in Gainesville, said he's used giant tires with his clients for about five years.
It's a popular training method among football teams, and tires are often used in strongman competitions, he said.
"Because it's a round object, it wants to roll, so it requires your whole body to flip it," he said. "It requires more muscles, balance, coordination and core strength. I think it makes an athlete a better athlete."
Cochran decided to put his strength to good use in July, when he flipped an 800-pound tire 120 times to raise money for Gainesville woman Julie Bryan. Bryan was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Italy and the funds were donated for her medical bills.
But the stunt in July was considered unofficial. To make the record books, Cochran said he needed sworn witnesses and video footage of the event from beginning to end, among other criteria.
"It's very strict," he said of the submission process.
At his record-setting event Nov. 13, Fitness Forum gym manager Shirlice Irick said Cochran was surrounded by a crowd of about 300 onlookers. She said the excitement continued to build as he neared the one-hour mark, and Cochran took few breaks from lifting.
"From experience, it's not hard to flip a tire two, three or five times, but to keep it going for an hour straight is a great feat of endurance," she said.
After the last flip, Cochran said he could feel the workout from head to toe, and he happily took a few days off from tire lifting.
"I was praying I didn't have a flat tire on the way home," he joked.
Cochran said people had donated money for each lift and the proceeds that day went to a local church's urban ministry and the North Hall High School alumni. Cochran said he expects to continue to use his brawn to raise money for local organizations this March, by pushing a heavy truck.
"I think these things appeal to me because they're out of the ordinary," he said. "It's definitely interesting for the crowd."
Cochran said he also hopes to break his own tire-flipping record sometime this summer.