What Do 1,000 Burpees Taste Like?

1000 burpee challenge shirt.

I’ll do anything for a T-shirt. Even though this one is white and thin enough that after a workout it would leave very little to the imagination.

This goes back a while: September 26, to be precise. That’s the day my gym had a special event: a 1,000 burpee workout. Let me take you through it:

T-15 minutes: I should get some extra credit, I think, because I did my regular class beforehand. What can I say? Saturday is the boxing class, and it’s vital to my mental health to hit things periodically. Frankly, I should hit things a lot more. There are issues there. You probably don’t want to delve.

T-0 minutes: The instructors explain the format: 10 burpees per minute, 20 minutes at a time, with 5-minute breaks between each 20-minute segment. We’re not doing full chest-to-floor burpees, just down and kick your legs out and stand up and jump. You may rant to your Spartan Facebook group now. (If you do, though, be sure to post the fatboybigwall.com URL. If you’re going to whine about what someone else does when it doesn’t affect you, at least boost my stats.)

T+1 minutes: The first round is done. No problem.

T+2 minutes: The second round is done. Still no problem.

T+3 minutes: The third round is done. Problem emerging. See, burpees aren’t a great exercise for me. The up-and-down movement is always kind of a problem for me—I’ve got a lot of weight to down and then back up again. Still, it’s okay.

T+4—T+20 minutes: It’s still okay, no vomit or nothing. I am getting cranky, like my dad when he’s playing cards or otherwise existing, but that’s just because I’ve done 200 burpees.

T+22 minutes: We’re a couple minutes into our first break, and there are two big developments. First off, we’ve moved venues slightly. My gym has four different workout rooms, and we started in room A, one of the large-ish basement rooms sometimes known as the loading dock. I assume that’s what it used to be: It’s got two big prong-y things about a truck’s width apart, and the wall where a truck would go between them is really obviously different brick than the rest of that wall. By the end of the first round, we moved upstairs to what is called the SWAT room, named for the main class that’s held there. It’s got stuff like boxes for jumps and the monkey bar rig and such up there. It’s also got natural lighting, since it’s above ground and has windows and shit like that. It’s weird how that works.

The second big news: The group decided that it didn’t want to do 100 minutes of burpees, so we upped our rounds to 15 burpees per minute. A sense of foreboding descends…

T+26 minutes: This is going to be a problem.

T+28 minutes: 10 burpees a minute was sustainable, but 15 doesn’t seem to be. I’m rapidly reaching the point where I’m getting no rest between sets.

T+29 minutes: Also starting to get dizzy. That’s neat.

T+31 minutes: Time to make life a bit easier. Those boxes I mentioned? Foreshadowing! I take one to do the burpees on. I tell myself I’ll compensate by doing push-ups on them. At least I’m not the only one who’s doing it that way. If Facebook would like to get pissy, remember about including the URL.

T+33 minutes: That push-up idea was a noble theory, wasn’t it? It didn’t last long. The punchy shoulder work wasn’t ideal to follow up with push-ups.

T+36 minutes: Life is getting a bit better. Less gravity-fighting makes Greg happier.

T+41 minutes: I need to burp. Why do I need to burp?

T+43 minutes: Seriously, it can’t just be the name of the exercise. That’s way too on-point, but not in a way that makes sense.

T+44 minutes: Can you belch discretely in a group of 12 people or so? And if not, is it easy to blame on someone else?

T+45 minutes: Everyone’s celebrating having 500 burpees done. I unleash my oral gas. No consequences; apparently just about everyone had a build-up, so it wasn’t even possible to tell whether I burped at all. There’s something deep and meaningful there.

T+48 minutes: The group decides to go back to 10 burpees per minute for the next round, and then 15 for the last. There’s a proposal, from the anal-retentive math nerd in the room (that would be me) that we do a round of 13 and a round of 12 to even things out. At this point, that level of math is way too hard.

T+54 minutes: You would think that things would be better now that we’ve dropped down to 10 burpees per minute. It hasn’t.

T+59 minutes: I might be hallucinating, but I’m fairly sure Snarf from ThunderCats is cheering us on.

T+62 minutes: Snarf has become visibly disappointed in our efforts. Or maybe he’s just bored. He is a cat.

T+66 minutes: No, Snarf is definitely angry.

T+67 minutes: That’s my throat!

Snarf got violent.T+68 minutes: Snarf! You’re making me bleed on the monkey bars!

T+69 minutes: No! Snarf! I AM NOT MONGOR!

T+71 minutes: After finally convincing Snarf that I’m not evil, at least not in his universe, his attack ceases. I apologize to my workout buddies for the profuse bleeding, which seems to confuse them.

T+76 minutes: The last round begins. Oh fuck.

T+78 minutes: This is not a happy group of burpees.

T+80 minutes: In fact, this is a downright cranky group of burpees.

T+82 minutes: This is worse than being invited to a show billed as “an improvised parody of Full House.”

T+85 minutes: This is worse than Thanksgiving with that one uncle who’s really passionate about the NRA and how the designated boogeyman is going to come for his guns, but the rest of the family decides to lock you in a very small room with him while they drink and watch football and play with your brother’s kid who is at that really fun age rather than the snotty I hate everyone age.

T+87 minutes: This is worse than Guantanamo Bay.

T+88 minutes: Actually this isn’t so bad. I’ve decided to express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward my captor, and I may even defend and identify with the burpees.

T+89 minutes: Wow, that was quick. I’d expected the Stockholm Syndrome to last a bit longer.

T+91 minutes: This is worse than moshing to French electronica.

T+92 minutes: This is worse than pickle-flavored cumin-coated chocolate-infused salmon garnished with sumo-wrestler turd.

T+94 minutes: Why am I only seeing the color orange and a C-flat played on the tubamonica?

T+95 minutes: I hate everything.

T+96 minutes: We’re done. I still hate everything.

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