Contortionists, weightlifters, and average Joes with really long fingernails. As April Gould flipped through the bizarre but captivating contents of Guinness World Records books, she knew, even as a child, that she wanted to be in one someday.
"My favorite records growing up were of those I thought were 'maybe' possible to break," Gould shares. "Like the highest stack of cards or the longest line of falling dominos. Of course, I never even got close, but it was still full to try and motivated me to do new things."
Fast forward to last year when Gould's childhood dream finally came true, though it wasn't with dominos or cards. No, Gould made it into the 2019 Guinness World Records with the help of a goat.
Gould, a Latter-day Saint and co-owner of Goat Yoga in Gilbert, Arizona, was approached by Guinness World Records in September 2016. Having seen videos of her goats walking on, under, and around yoga enthusiasts at Gould's classes, they offered her a proposition: get one of her goats to run across a human tunnel in 12 seconds and you're in the 2019 book.
"I thought that was pretty fast and hard to beat," April remembers about the proposition. "It’s a goat and they don’t usually run across people’s backs. . . . It wasn’t like they asked me, ‘How fast can they do it?’ They saw on my videos that they were walking across people’s backs and it was, like, 30 seconds."
Despite the challenge, Gould knew just the goat for the job. In 2015, while preparing to compete on America Ninja Warrior, Gould welcomed a new addition to her goat crew—Ninja.
Named in honor of Gould's appearance on the show, Ninja "has always been a special goat to me," Gould shares.
► You'll also like: Latter-day Saint Mom Competes on American Ninja Warrior
And so Gould began subtlety training Ninja during her regular goat yoga classes, helping Ninja become used to running instead of awkwardly stumbling across the backs of her yoga class attendees—a process that took more time than one might think.
"It’s not as easy to train a goat as it is a dog," Gould says about the experience." It’s hard to train a goat. That’s why you don’t see very many of them."
But as Ninja began to live up to her namesake, it became apparent that Gould still needed the right people to lend their backs to the task.
The guidelines for the record required that all of the participants had to have their hands and feet on the ground, but not their knees. Meaning all 25 participants would have to hold a plank while a goat weighing 30 pounds (unbeknownst to Gould, Ninja was also pregnant at the time) ran across their backs. And to make it easier and faster for Ninja to sprint across, all the participants would have to be about the same size, something that was impossible to find among her yoga class attendees.
However, Gould knew just who to ask. "I immediately thought of the missionaries," she shares.
Since her goat yoga studio opened in 2016, Gould has made a special effort to help the missionaries in the area through her business. Both Gould and her business partner, certified yoga instructor Sarah Williams, provide free classes to investigators and they host goat yoga classes just for missionaries on their P-days.
Knowing that the male missionaries in her area also work with young men from a drug rehab center, Gould also extended the invitation to any of these young men the missionaries would want to bring along.
When the fateful day, June 30, 2017, finally came, the heat was stifling. Reaching well into the 90s, the group of 25 men lined up in a plank position at Gould's small farm and yoga studio. Government officials and professional timers stood by while a Guinness World Record photographer from England snapped pictures.
The pressure was on. Gould's childhood dream was on the line.
But it almost seemed like Ninja would choke. After the first, second, and even fifth attempt, Gould could sense that there were some doubts about her goat's abilities.
However, after six attempts, Ninja had a burst of energy and made it across 25 human backs in 9.40 seconds, well below the 12-second guideline.
"I was screaming, everyone was. All the boys, all the guys were like, ‘Yeah!’ They were just so happy and excited and I don’t know if it was because they were done," April says with a laugh.
In 9.40 seconds, April's childhood dream had finally come true. She, Ninja, and all 25 volunteers (including the missionaries with their white dress shirts underneath their goat yoga t-shirts) made it on page 77 of the 2019 Guinness World Records. The official record was dubbed "fastest time to climb over a human tunnel by a goat." But Gould's not planning to stop with just one world record.
At the end of this year, April plans on hosting the largest goat yoga class ever, an interesting feat considering her classes—which now sell out with more than 160 attendees—began with only eight people in 2016.
"And they were friends that we had to be like, ‘Will you come to our class?’ There were people we had to particularly beg," Gould says. "We realized how much fun it was because people actually enjoyed themselves and it grew from there."
Seeing herself in a Guinness World Records book just like she had imagined while she stacked cards and set up dominos as a kid, Gould says the "sky's the limit" for what she wants to accomplish next.
"Who knows? There might be a third one after that," Gould says.
All images courtesy April Gould