Be warned: the purpose of this post is to convince you to join me in my quest to complete the 100 Day Burpee Challenge.
If you haven't been tortured lately by a high school basketball coach, you may not know what a burpee is. To do a burpee you put your hands on the floor, jump your feet back into the top of a pushup position, do a push up, jump your feet forward into a squat position, and jump up into the air with your hands outstretched above your head*.
If you chose to accept the 100 Day Burpee Challenge, you will do one burpee on day one, two burpees on day two, three burpees on day three, etc., until you hit 100 burpees on day 100.
I myself am currently on day 48 of the Burpee Challenge; and it's reminding me that I find great joy in both discipline and movement; and also that I actually had a lot of fun doing squats for junior high basketball practice when I was a kid and push ups during my daily physical training workouts with my Hotshot crew of forest firefighters as an adult. There's something about commitment and rigorous exercise that do the heart, body and self-esteem good. While the Burpee Challenge is a natural fit for a stubborn endurance athlete, I believe it could be just as rewarding (and fun) for folks who aren't already pushing their bodies regularly.
Because I'm a do-it-yourself (DIY) gal when it comes to exercise -- and a progressive lefty when it comes to everything else -- the Burpee Challenge immediately appealed to me. Burpees require no equipment and very little space; they are as accessible to an inmate or homeless shelter resident as they are to a high roller with a fancy gym membership and a personal trainer.
I first read about the 100 Day Burpee Challenge on the Crossfit website, which is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to become seriously fit. (Crossfit's focus on performance and improved fitness rather than weight lost or calories burned is both refreshing and inspiring). Members of the Crossfit tribe rave about the benefits of the 100 Day Burpee Challenge, which include increased strength, endurance and stamina. One Crossfitter even declared that by the end of the Burpee Challenge he could finally do handstand pushups!
A meathead by nature, I love a physical challenge. And I've always wanted to be able to do handstand pushups -- I mean, who doesn't? So I decided to give the 100 Day Burpee Challenge a try.
Day one of the 100 Day Burpee Challenge felt deceptively painless. I did one single solitary burpee. And then I was done. It was easy!
The first week, the burpees weren't hard at all. But as the days wore on, I realized that by myself I wouldn't be able to maintain my commitment to the challenge.
So I talked my big sister Margaret into doing the Burpee Challenge, too. Checking in with my sis about my burpee progress proved motivating. So did the funny videos my sister sent of herself doing burpees along with her four year-old son Charlie, a newfound burpee enthusiast. And within a few days, Margaret enlisted her friend Christi to participate as well. Now that I had a little crew of Burpee Challengers with whom I could share my daily experience, I was better able to maintain my enthusiasm.
But then, on day 29, Margaret called me with some daunting statistics: I would be doing a grand total of 5,050 burpees in 100 days. And I wouldn't even hit the halfway point until day 72!
Was it a coincidence that I skipped my burpees on day 30 and day 31? Or was I too intimidated by the number 5,050 to complete my burpees? On day 32, I remotivated and followed the Burpee Challenge rules for skipped burpees: I did all the burpees for Days 30, 31, and 32.
I felt like I'd glimpsed what the Burpee Challenge will bring in the days to come. And I realized something: having my sister as a fellow Burpee Challenger isn't going to be enough. There's a reason Crossfit communities do the Burpee Challenge together. It's almost impossible to maintain the "self-discipline and mental tenacity" required to make it through the 100 Day Burpee Challenge alone.
I need back up.
I need accountability.
I need other Burpee Challengers.
That's where this article comes in. I now challenge you, dear reader, to try the 100 Day Burpee Challenge, to join me in the daunting but totally possible task of doing 5,050 burpees in 100 days. (Assuming, of course, that you aren't currently injured or dealing with other physical limitations).
You can post comments here about your progress (or your excitement about taking on the Burpee Challenge). And if you send me a message via Twitter I'll likely send you an enthusiastic and cheerleader-ish reply encouraging you to keep doing your dang burpees. And that, in turn, will help keep me on the burpee wagon.
This morning I did my 48 burpees for the day, whipping out sets of 10 with a newfound, hard-earned strength. I want to keep this up; I can't even imagine what a beast I'll be by day 100! And I want you to join me in the satisfaction and fun of burpees done well.
Let's do burpees as a meditation, burpees as community building, burpees in honor of our loved ones, burpees for peace, burpees to rekindle our inner athletes!
Let's allow the 100 Day Burpee Challenge to help us remember that exercise can be about so much more than pounds lost or calories burned. It can also be about fostering community and functional strength, as well as the joy of movement and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with using our bodies in healthy, productive ways.
To read the rules of the 100 Day Burpee Challenge, click HERE.
To watch an instructional video about burpees, click HERE.
*Burpees can be modified to accommodate various injuries and fitness levels. You can do pushups on your knees (formerly and offensively known as "girl" pushups); or you can do grrrl pushups (formerly known as standard pushups or "boy" pushups.) You can also step back into your pushup position and/or step forward into your squat position instead of jumping.
Follow Mary Pauline Lowry on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MaryPLowry