Three time Guinness world record holder and author Donald “Spiderman” Thomas ’84 (Antioch West’s Honolulu Center, BA in Liberal Studies with a Concentration in Holistic Health) has devoted his life to the study and practice of healthy aging, advocacy for the disabled, and public health education.
A vegetarian pioneer and champion of drug-free herbal sports nutrition, Thomas became interested in healthy living at an early age. At 12, he developed Osgood-Schlatter disease, a very painful knee condition categorized by bony, lumpy growths at the top of the shinbone. Thomas’s condition was particularly severe and required surgery. It was then that he began doing his own research regarding health, nutrition, and fitness. He also learned about martial arts philosophy, plant-based nutrition, and herbology. He began practicing and promoting a plant-based diet when he was 18 years old.
Thomas has written three books promoting healthy eating and energy via plant-based nutrition and fitness routines centered around rope jumping. “My primary goal is to increase the health span within the life span of an individual,” Thomas says. “I’m not promoting anything that the average person can’t do.”
He published his first book The Philosophy of Divine Nutrition in 1977. It is based on his philosophy that every religious text has instructions on health, longevity, and nutrition. His second book came out in 1986. The Way of PDN: The Ultimate Vegetarian Athletic Nutrition Program emphasized motivation, fitness, and herbal sports nutrition. His most recent book New Jump Swing: Healthy Aging and Athletic Nutrition is a revised version of two of Thomas’s world record speeches.
“In the very competitive world of anti-aging, health, and fitness books, I looked for a way to help me stand out among the crowd,” Thomas says. “Since I’m making the claim that my diet and fitness program gives a person more energy, I decided to demonstrate my own increased personal energy, so I used my books on health and fitness as my speeches for the Guinness records.”
He presented his book The Philosophy of Divine Nutrition for 93 consecutive hours in 1978, winning his first Guinness Book World Record in the Sermon category. In 1985 at his first Alma Mater City College of New York, he presented the draft of his book The Way of PDN for 19 hours and 20 minutes. The title of his speech was “The History of Herbs in Maintaining Physical Fitness.” After his record was beaten in 1988 by a 24 hour after dinner speech, Thomas recaptured the record and is pictured with his book The Way of PDN in the 1989 Guinness Book. He spoke for 32 hours and 25 minutes. The title of his speech was “Vegetarian Athletic Nutrition.”
After each Guinness record, Thomas had enough energy left to give a New Jump Swing jump rope demonstration.