It began when Michael Eckert’s dad, Frank—a former US Army captain—built a pull-up bar in their backyard in Winter Park, Florida when Michael was 10 years old. “I got pretty good at pull-ups,” Michael recalled. “And I was an avid rock climber. Then I joined the Marines and I developed insane upper body strength.”
This is not an exaggeration. Check out this video of Michael, now a Marine reservist, demonstrating his extraordinary ability to do pull-ups in ways most people could scarcely imagine: https://youtu.be/lMKUPD7S9b8
Michael used his upper body strength to raise money for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society this past March when he broke the world record for most pull-ups completed in one minute. He did 57 pull-ups in front of a crowd of spectators at a gym in Orlando, Florida. In addition to supporting the Society with his record-breaking feat, Michael dedicated his pull-ups to a fellow Marine who served with him on active duty and passed away last year.
During his four years in the Marines, Michael witnessed the work of the Society when several fellow Marines received assistance. “Some of the Marines I knew who got help were struggling financially and received short-term no-interest loans,” Michael recalled. “I had two friends who were moving their families from America to Japan and they hadn’t received their travel payments from the Marine Corps and needed loans to help them get settled.”
This year’s pull-up record was not Michael’s first. In 2015, when he was still on active duty and stationed in Iwakuni, Japan, he did 50 pull-ups in one minute to beat the previous record of 43.
Then in 2017, while competing for a spot on the American Ninja Warrior tv show, Michael broke his wrist. “I was just coming off active duty and it was a big hit to my confidence,” Michael said. “My doctor told me I would never have the same strength again.” But Michael refused to accept that, and spent the year rehabilitating his wrist and rebuilding his confidence. Meanwhile, someone else broke his pull-up record by doing 54 pull-ups in one minute.
Determined to get back on top, Michael organized this year’s record-breaking fundraising event. Doing pull-ups is just part of what Michael does, however, and his fitness videos have gone viral on Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/michaeleckert_fit/] and Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/michaeleckert.fit/]. “Once you get to a certain point, you have to become a teacher,” he said. “That’s the best way to progress. I will continue to try to break world records while also developing workout programs to help people increase their own pull-up numbers.” Michael plans to continue supporting the Society while he promotes the benefits of developing upper body strength. “NMCRS is my number one charity,” he said.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso