Bob Barnes spent August doing push-ups — 645 a day, every day.
He did them first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, and he did them in his office at Mainstreet Community Bank of Florida during the day.
"My co-workers would walk by while I was face down on the floor and say, 'Go, Bob, go!'" said Barnes, who is vice president and head of special assets for the DeLand, Fla., bank.
Barnes challenged himself to do 20,000 push-ups last month to raise money for the Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, which provides food and shelter for people in need. By promoting the challenge among friends, colleagues and bank customers — and on a Facebook page touting "Big Bad Bob's Push-up Challenge" — he helped raise $7,300 for the community center. More than 100 people contributed, including Mainstreet's entire executive team and the bank itself.
Aside from some soreness in his shoulders and wrists, Barnes came through the challenge unscathed. But getting started was tough. He originally planned the challenge for March, but a skiing accident forced him to delay. April skin cancer surgery pushed the start back to August.
Then, just before he was supposed to begin, Barnes came down with a cold he couldn't shake. On Aug. 1, the very first day of the challenge, he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
"I didn't tell my doctor what I was planning, because she would have said no," Barnes said. "So I started, and I just knocked it in the dirt."
The idea for the challenge came from two board members of the Neighborhood Center of West Volusia: Richard Prescott, a fellow Mainstreet banker, and Lex Ford, an ex-colleague who's now at First Green Bank.
Three years ago, Barnes, Prescott and Ford had set themselves the goal of doing 10,000 push-ups each in a month. Barnes ended up finishing the 10,000 — his two friends dropped out, he said — and this year he decided to do another 10,000 to raise money for charity.
His friends suggested helping the neighborhood center — and doubling the number of push-ups.
"They said, 'You've already done 10,000 — anybody can do that.' I said, 'Well, you couldn't do it!'" Barnes said. " Most people told me I'm crazy. Maybe, but it's for a good cause."
Barnes kept a log of the push-ups and updated his supporters on his progress. He stuck to full military-style push-ups, with "no cheating — all the way down and all the way to the top," he said. He and his trainer calculated that the 20,000 push-ups were the equivalent of lifting 1.68 million pounds over the month.
Barnes, who's 58, is not planning a repeat performance next year, much less upping the total to 30,000. The plan next year is to "reminisce," he said, about the month he did 20,000 push-ups, or, more accurately, just over 20,000.
"I did a little more because I wanted to make sure my math was right. Being a banker, my calculations don't always add up," he said with a laugh.