Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jordan Challenge 29: The 100 Burpee Challenge

One of the many things I've come to appreciate about our Jordan Fulbright group is that it is fit -- as in active and in-shape.  Various Fulbrighters have taken on all kinds of fitness challenges during our time here in Jordan, and have gotten to know some wonderful Fellow Travellers -- including Tim, Ben, Gaelle, Doa'a and Ahmad -- in the course of our activities  In fact, attempting to compile a list is actually a fairly major undertaking.  Some highlights would have to include:
  • Angela and Kelsey recently completed the Dead Sea Marathon (and Hannah and Jen did the Dead Sea 10K just for the fun of it),

    Angela and Kelsey looking alert and enthusiastic the night BEFORE their Dead Sea Marathon
  • a group of Fulbrighters (Sarah M., Sarah I., Kelsey, Luke, Jayme, Zayn and 15 year old Fulbright son Kiric)-and-Friends made up a ten person relay team for the grueling 242 kilometer Dead to Red Run;

    The runners (and drivers) of Team Fulbright -- also known as the Superslow Superheroes
  •  Jackie did the same course as part of a five-person bike team; and
  • Jayme, Elizabeth K, Usama, Kat, Christina, Sarah and I have all gotten to know Climbat, Jordan's first rock climbing gym.
But when it comes to fitness, the Fulbright fitness center of gravity is maintained by our very own Sarah I., who is both a committed CrossFit athlete and a general model to the rest of us.  In this role, she has inspired fellow Fulbrighters Almas, Mike, Elizabeth K and I to try to follow in her footsteps, albeit to varying degrees.  Back in January she issued a Challenge to Mike, Almas and me (and later, to Elizabeth K). The Challenge was deceptively simple: work up to doing a 100 Burpees a day over the course of 100 days.  So, it starts easy.  Day one you do one Burpee.  Day two you do two, working up to day 100 when you do 100 Burpees.  On days 25, 50, 75 and 100 you time yourself to see how long it takes to complete them. If you miss a day, the next day you have to do that day's worth plus what you missed. Having already done the Burpee Challenge eons ago, Sarah launched her own similar but infinitely more difficult Double-Under Challenge (a double-under is when you do TWO rotations of a jump rope in a single jump -- requiring lots of speed and jumping height).

For those to whom a Burpee sounds strange and mysterious and vaguely undignified, a Burpee is an exercise favored by the military (because they're hard) and prisoners (because you can do them anywhere there's space to do a push-up, and they work out lots of muscle groups as well as giving your heart and lungs a serious aerobic challenge).  They're similar to what my old-school gym teacher used to call a Squat Thrust.  You start from a standing position, squat down, kick your legs back to a push-up position, do a push up, jump back to a squat, then jump up in the air with your arms extended overhead.  If you've never done one, stop reading right now and do five in a row and you'll see why most people don't love them.

My favorite Burpee locale of the whole challenge: doing Burpees at the High Place of Sacrifice in Petra -- my friend Paul agreed to take pictures, but not to join me in my Burpee craziness.

Doing Burpees at the summit of a hike overlooking the ancient ruins of Pella conducted during an archeological day trip with Elizabeth R.

The thing about the Burpee Challenge is that it lulls you into a false sense of complacency initially.  The first week or so seem pretty easy.  Just do a few Burpees in the morning and you're done with it. I think it was on Day Twenty-Five, the first time I had to time them and therefore did twenty-five without stopping, that I started to get seriously nervous about what was in store.  And as the numbers got higher, fitting them in during the day got a little tougher.  Sarah suggested getting creative, and I did.  Unless it is a timed day, you don't have to do them all at once, and can stretch them out all day if you want.  I learned that one of my favorite things was finding unusual places to do them.  I did Burpees in the outside courtyard of the Movenpick Hotel at the Dead Sea during my time on the dig with Elizabeth R.  I did Burpees at the peak of a hike during an archeological field trip, also with Elizabeth R., at Pella, and (my favorite) I did Burpees at the Place of High Sacrifice during my March trip to Petra with Paul.

The Burpee Gang on Day 100:Elizabeth K (who started the Challenge late), me, Mike and our Fearless Leader Sarah I.  Sadly, Almas suffered a foot injury and had to defer the Challenge to a later date.

My 100th day of the Burpee Challenge was April 5, and I did 100 Burpees in 12 minutes and 50 seconds.  That's a whole lot slower than my fellow Burpee Challenger, Mike, who did his in 8 minutes and change, with much better form.  But the scary thing is that I'm now sort of addicted to Burpees.  My current plan is  to do 500 a week, to keep the benefits I gained from the Challenge.  But the moral of the story is this: if you're looking for a unique way to ensure you get some exercise every single day, I say: Behold the Burpee Challenge!

No comments:

Post a Comment