I’ve been surprised by how many times the burpee has been mentioned in initial consultation meetings for Personal Training. Sometimes it’s given its name, usually by those who have it etched in their memory, or more often, it’s just referred to as ‘that’ exercise…… ‘you know the horrible one where you’re sort of on the floor and bring your knees in and have to jump up’. I always know what they mean as my first experience of attempting burpees ended with me genuinely wondering how it was possible!
That question about buprees is usually closely followed by a statement along the lines of ‘oh and please don’t make me run’! I’m learning that not only are these two of people’s most feared forms of exercise, but also that there is an expectation that both will be an essential part of any personal training programme. I deliberately use ‘feared’, as usually it is a build up of anxiety stemming from a previous bad experience (being made to do them in the middle of a very busy gym when you are self conscious) or from a perception that you can’t do these forms of exercise unless you are very fit.
My answer to the question, whatever the ‘thing’ is, will always be no, you won’t have to do burpees or run, there are plenty of other ways to get a cardio or muscular strength and endurance workout which will improve your fitness. However, it’s important to highlight that a personal training programme will always provide challenge, a personal trainer will always push you beyond what you think you can do, this is how improvement happens.
My whole decision to move into personal training though, was to encourage people passed their barriers and enable them to see what they are capable of, for that reason I don’t go down the ‘face your fears’ route initially. Facing your fear works really well for lots of individuals, at the right time, but it can be too much, too soon, for others.
Fundamentally I want people to benefit from exercise and I want them to find a way to do it that they enjoy. The first time someone surprises themself is generally the spark for them wanting to do more, try harder or try new things and believe it or not, this usually extends to running and burpees (although in my experience, the desire to run generally comes long before the desire to do burpees)!
So, my message is, don’t be put off any fitness journey by fearing you will be made to do burpees (or whatever your own fear is, even if it’s the old aerobic favourite the ‘spotty dog’……..you know who you are!). Whether it’s personal training, exercises classes, cycling, swimming…..anything that gets you active, if you can enjoy it then becomes more than something that has to be done to keep fit, it becomes part of your life. Exercise can be enjoyable, just look at the faces below!