If you've seen athletes stopped by the side of the road squatting, doing push-ups, and jumping high into the air, you might be witnessing history. These unique workouts are part of a worldwide fitness challenge called the 115 Royal Burpee Challenge.
"The burpee is a very hard exercise," said Chrissy Mayernik, a CrossFit certified trainer and Lehighton TUFFCAMP coach. "Even doing five of them is a real challenge and works every muscle. It's so hard to do that you get winded, more winded than when you're running."
The burpee combines a squat, push-up and jump into one smooth motion. Squat, kick out into push-up form, and then jump as high as possible with a burst of energy. Seems easy, right? Try doing this five, 10, or even 115 times.
That's the challenge taken on by athletes around the world, including 20 Lehighton TUFFCAMP members, to celebrate the birthday of Royal H. Burpee (1898-1987), who is best known for creating the "burpee" to measure physical fitness, agility and coordination for the U.S. military in the 1930s.
Starting 115 days before Burpee's birthday, participants completed one burpee for each day of the challenge. On Feb. 11, they completed one burpee. On Feb. 12, they completed two burpees. Participants are currently doing more than 100 each day as they approach the 115th day. Over the course of the challenge, they'll complete 6,670 burpees.
The challenge will culminate on June 4, the 115th day, when participants will complete 115 burpees to mark what would have been Royal H. Burpee's 115th birthday.
"There are gyms all over the country that are participating," said Mayernik, who is hosting a TUFFCAMP burpee challenge on June 4 at the Lehighton Recreation Center. "There are people from all over, including Europe and Australia, who have joined the event on Facebook. You'll have people posting that they're doing burpees in the Alps. It's so cool."
Area challenge participants will gather at the Lehighton Recreation Center at 7 p.m. on June 4 to complete their burpees. About 20 Lehighton TUFFCAMP members are expected to take part in the event. Members of the public who are interested in trying TUFFCAMP are also invited to attend the workout, which will incorporate the 115 burpees into a TUFFCAMP-style workout.
"It's going to be a great workout and it will be scaled to every person's fitness level. Even beginners will be able to take part in this," she added. "It's not too late to come to Day 115. They should come to be part of it, to join TUFFCAMP members."
While the challenge ends June 4, there are still lots of burpees for TUFFCAMP members to complete this month. They've done workouts at Hawk Mountain, the Jim Thorpe memorial, and on top of buses and cars anywhere possible to make the challenge more interesting and gather public interest.
"Yesterday, I did my burpees outside the Asa Packer Mansion," said Mayernik. "We're having fun with it, because it's a really hard challenge."
The 115 Royal Burpee Challenge was organized by Greg Tymon, owner of CrossFit Advanced in Easton and founder of TUFFCAMP. The challenge has grown to include more than 2,000 online participants around the world.
In Easton, the challenge will culminate June 4 in an attempt to make the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people completing 115 burpees in one place with athletes from throughout the greater Lehigh Valley.
Aside from celebrating Royal Burpee's birthday, the challenge also serves to reinforce the message behind TUFFCAMP: hard work equals results.
"If you can talk and you can breathe fine when you're done exercising, you've wasted your time," said Mayernik. "If you really want results, you need to make it intense and worth your time. Don't just go for a one-hour walk."
Many Lehighton TUFFCAMP members are using the challenge to supplement their usual workouts, she added, noting that most are still attending bi-weekly TUFFCAMP workouts, zumba, or doing other forms of exercise.
Combined with the burpee challenge, they've faced an intense three-month fitness session. Still, every member of the Lehighton TUFFCAMP has managed to stay on track with the challenge.
"We had a burpee motivation program going on. If someone felt like they were going to quit, we helped them work through it," she said. "People are telling me that their bodies are changing. They're getting toned, they feel that running is a little easier. It's a very hard challenge, but we are getting so fit."
Lehighton TUFFCAMP is offered Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. at the Lehighton Recreation Center on Eighth Street, Lehighton.