THE BURPEE MONSTER
Burpee. Such a simple word—almost cute, really. Yet that cute little word gives me anxiety like nothing else when I see it included in a workout. Burpees sap all of my strength, all of my energy. I’ve hated them since my first introduction to them over three years ago. At the time, I was extremely overweight and out of shape. I hadn’t exercised regularly in at least 20 years. My first burpee was not really a burpee. It was more like pushing myself up off of the ground in increments and then a feeble attempt at a hop to finish it off. If you’ve ever seen a burpee, you know how it is supposed to look. Picture a rhinoceros doing a burpee and that is somewhat closer to what I looked like.
Fast forward three years, three months later to last Saturday. The workout was supposed to include running—also not one of my favorite movements. But I had wrapped my mind around it so I was mentally prepared. But then the class was unusually crowded, so the workout was changed to include (ominous music inserted here) BURPEES!! It would be a team workout with two of the four people always doing burpees until most of the workout was complete. When I saw that, I couldn’t handle the thought of ALL OF THOSE BURPEES—of feeling like a failure since it’s still a move that’s a struggle for me. I couldn’t even perceive of the workout ending—even though that was of course ridiculous. All I could think about was the last time a similar workout was done and how I had failed and even broke down crying during it. All I could think was that I would be the weak link in this and let the rest of the team down. And I lost it. Before even the first exercise I started crying. Literally. Tears I couldn’t keep from coming etched their way down my face, as I feebly tried to hide them from the rest of the class. I thought seriously of walking out and trying again another day.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I listened to my teammates encourage me to see things clearly. It wasn’t going to be a never-ending workout. We would tackle the burpees one at a time. We would conquer them. They would not conquer us. And, sure enough, we did.
At the moment the final rep was completed, I realized something. Often, I look at obstacles in my life as I look at burpees. I let the idea of a problem or a challenge overwhelm me to the point of paralysis. I feel incapable, weak, and “less than.” I feel like a failure before I’ve even started. And when I give in to that feeling, I remain where I was. No forward momentum. No progress.
But when I invite someone else (whom I trust) to look at the obstacle with me, I can see it for what it really is, and not the burpee monster I created it to be. And I can conquer it!!
All of us have burpee monsters in our lives. What is your burpee monster? What challenge feels overwhelming to you? What is it that leaves you feeling incapable or weak? Whatever that thing is that you are thinking of right now, know it is conquerable. You are more powerful than it is! You just may need someone to come alongside you to remind you of that fact. And, truthfully,don’t we all?