JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Less than halfway through his attempt to set the world record for squats in a 24-hour period, Joe Reverdes’ confidence wavered.

Squat number one came just before eight on a Friday morning.

Reverdes effortlessly rattled off thousands of reps with only short breaks between sets.

But as the 53-year-old approached the 10,000 mark, bursting up and descending back down over and over, his body started to push back.

His hamstrings were throbbing, his legs were bruised and doubt clouded his mind.

“Before I started, I said, ‘I’ll die before I quit,'” Reverdes said. “I had to remind myself, ‘I’m still alive.’ So that meant I had to keep going.”

By midnight, he was still going, icing his aching thighs during those short breaks.

Reverdes’ children and friends reminded him why he wanted to set the record, but family was not always a helpful factor in his life.

As Reverdes was training back in July, he told 12 News he grew up on the street through his 20’s with horrible role models, including an often wayward father.

“What I remember is him teaching me how to lie,” Reverdes said at the time. “The best thing that happened to me was going to prison.”

That decades-ago past pushed him toward the record.

“I never forget that part of my life,” Reverdes said. “Because that’s what keeps me straight, where I want to go and what I want to do in my life.”

The sunrise marked nearly 20 hours of squatting, with cameras linking his daughter’s A and D Fitness to Guinness Book of World Records judge Christina Conlon.

The local counter reached an astounding total at 7:28 in the morning on Saturday, just shy of 24 hours since that first squat.

“I am ready to announce the official result,” Conlon said to the small group in the gym. “Are you ready to hear it?”

The question brought an eruption of cheers and a huge smile from Reverdes.

Reverdes and his team knew he’d averaged more than 1,000 squats an hour for a full day, but it was only the Guinness total that mattered.

“Joe has broken the record for most squats by a male in 24 hours,” Conlon said.

The verified total was exactly 25,000 squats, shattering the previous record.

It is Joe’s record, but he hopes it demonstrates something much bigger for his family and everyone else.

“I’m not better than anyone else. It’s here,” Reverdes said, pointing to his head. “For people my age to realize that if you set your mind to things you can do it.”

Next year, about the time the actual book comes out with his name in it, Reverdes said he may try to break the world burpee record.

“I can do it,” Reverdes said.

Everyone who knows him would say, don’t doubt him.

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