Where do I begin?

I guess I’ll start with my first ever experience with burpees… It was a dark and stormy night –

imagesOK, OK, for real. I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area and a bunch of friends from work wanted to try this kickboxing gym. It was a nice little hole-in-the-wall gym, as they usually are. Kickboxing bags hung from the ceiling in organized rows. There were quite a few people there who were pumped and ready to go. The trainers had helped me and my friends wrap our hands, and we each picked a bag. Did I punch or kick the bag before subjected to burpees? Honestly, I can’t remember.

What I do remember is the trainer demonstrating a few burpees – squat down, hands on the ground, jump your feet back, do a push-up, jump your feet forward, and pop up, reaching your hands to the ceiling as you jump up. A graceful, fluid movement.

Unless you’re me. I looked like a fish flopping around on dry land.

After a couple of embarrassing burpees, I thought: Whew! I survived! Ha! Already winded, I listened in silent agony as the trainer instructed us to do 25 more. We had only a few minutes. Is he serious? I thought. Yep. He was serious. I looked around the room at the regulars, who didn’t look real happy, but they weren’t complaining. I remember slowly lowering my hands to the ground, walking my legs back, skipping the push-up, walking my legs forward, and standing up. Even then, it wasn’t graceful. You’d think I’d never actually moved my body before, I was so awkward about it. I never got anywhere close to 25.

Fast-forward to now, nearly five years later.

I have a love-hate relationship with burpees. Between kickboxing at 9Round and my morning DailyBurn workouts, I have to do them frequently. (At least with DailyBurn, they don’t ask you to do the push-ups – that’s a nice modification first thing in the morning.)

It’s so funny – and rewarding – to see how far I’ve come since that first introduction to burpees in that little hole-in-the-wall kickboxing gym. Once upon a time, I thought 25 burpees was unachievable. This morning, as part of the DailyBurn challenge, I did 20 in one minute (sans push-up). The last time it was the 9Round Challenge of the Week (CHOW), I did 31 (with push-ups – good ones!) in three minutes. Next time it comes up as the CHOW, I’m going for 35.

There are a lot of areas where I’ve seen significant physical improvement in the last few years, but this is one that I hold near and dear to my heart. Why? Because burpees are so, so good for you – working your whole body and kicking up your heart rate – and they’re very challenging, which makes me feel even more accomplished. Sure, I can’t really breathe when I’m done, but I feel amazing.

So that’s how I’m starting my week. And with my luck (good and bad), today’s 9Round kickboxing routine will include burpees. I’m ready!

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