The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Competing in a Month Long Burpee Challenge

By: Nina Meyer

Love flopping on the floor like a fish hundreds of times a day for a month in the name of exercise? HAVE I GOT A CHALLENGE FOR YOU.

At the beginning of this month, my wonderful gym, Crossfit Believe, decided to have a little friendly challenge.

You and two members have the month of February to do as many burpees as your frantic heart desires.

What is a burpee you ask? It’s a full body workout, starting in a standing position. You move to a plank position, drop to the ground, do a push-up, stand up again. And then jump at the top. Voila.

So each team had the full month to do as many burpees at the gym as they could. And the team with the most burpees at the end of the month? Hooray! Wins! What do we win you ask? Glory? (Not so much) Fame? (a little blurb in the gym newsletter maybe) Fortunes beyond your wildest dreams? (lol) Back massages from the last place team? (I wish) Case of Beer? (no again) Unlimited bathroom access?... Free water fountain water?!?! Aaah na, most definitely nothing.... BUT WE’D BE WINNERS that’s what we win. … And that’s everything.

So ANYWAYS, In case I didn’t make it clear, I love my gym. Every morning I get up around 5 am, wrangle my 2 year old and 1 year old through their morning routines and hurl them into the car to daycare, so that from 7 to 9 I can have my desperately essential “me time” before I go to work at 10. (ask my husband, it’s necessary). This is the time when I’m able to get together with my friends. Laugh and sweat and fail and be silly and serious and persevere through barriers. This is the time when I can push myself harder than I ever knew was possible, and be proud of what I achieve. It’s my therapy and my escape and it makes me a better person. Blah blah blah you get it. But mushy stuff aside, now that you’re acquainted with my love for barbells, let’s talk - burpee challenge.

So, in January we did a rowing challenge and that was not my jam. Sitting on a rower for hours a day is not anything I ever need to succumb to. I attempted to put in some meters, but when I saw people pulling on that chain for legitimately all of their existence, I decided I would not be standing on any championship boxes come the 31st. No thank you.

But! February's burpee challenge seemed more up my alley. BODYWEIGHT MOVEMENTS. I love burpees. I’d do great in prison. I can toss my bag of bones on the ground and hop up a ton of times. I got this! I’m killer at body weight movements. IT’S IN THE BAG. I figured if our team does 100 burpees a day each, we’ll be in first place FOR SURE. Man was I wrong. WRONG WRONG painfully, endless, boringly energetic lifetime of burpee-ing WRONG.

In case you didn’t know, Crossfit athletes (or any athletes to be honest) are com-pe-ta-tive. 100 a day aint even a warm up. We started out hot to trot. Team “Sunday Funday” lit the board up with our burpee glory on day one. And then in came the others….Oh look, Abby came back in the evening and did 400 burpees. Wait WHAT. NO. THAT’S INSANE. Why? Someone hose her down!

Alright..fine. Battle on. We stepped it up. It went from us doing 100 burpees a day each to 200 each, to 300… I think my partner Jack did 400 one day that first week. Like a champ.

But regardless, I was doing 200-300 burpees a day ON TOP OF MY NORMAL CROSSFIT WORKOUTS and I was sore. My abs were on fire, my knees hurt. OMG my knees hurt. My shoulders were screaming ‘Why”. My hips hurt, my arms were so freaking sick of me they wanted to detach, and I never wanted to do a burpee ever again, I didn’t even want to say the word burpee, it felt like vomit coming out of my mouth. BUUUURPeee. But it’s ok, there are only 4 weeks in February. This is fine.

Week 2: (ugh is it only week 2?)

Through pure willpower and a good head start, by week two we had maintained our hold of the lead. But we were struggling. Apparently everyone else was in it to win it too. What the heck. Rude. Why wouldn’t they just sit aside and let us ride the wave?

But, low and behold, there was a light that turned on in this tunnel of jumping push ups.

Subtle changes were becoming generously ample. (Just like our bootys).

Most obviously I was getting WAY better at cardio, or more specifically, my ability to breath through workouts.

My fellow burpee’ees and I were noticing we could pace better through our workouts, take smoother transitions and have more control of our breathing when winded (and therefore needed to take less breaks).