Are You Tough Enough for the Royal Burpee Challenge?

Jan 31, 2012 in Blog

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Easton, PA – Athletes from around the world are joining CrossFit Advanced in the 115 Royal Burpee Challenge to honor of the man who made the burpee a household name: Royal Huddleston Burpee.

Those who join us in the challenge will start with a single burpee on Feb. 11. On Feb. 12, the second day, we will do two burpees. On Feb. 13, the third day, we will do three burpees. We will continue adding a burpee to our daily workout until June 4, when we will do 115 burpees in honor of what would be Royal H. Burpee’s 115th birthday. Over the course of the challenge, athletes will do a total of 6,670 burpees.

Athletes may do the burpees on their own, and are encouraged to share pictures and videos. The burpees can be spread out over the day, but each day’s required burpees must be completed before moving on to the next day. So if an athlete fails to do 10 burpees on Day 10, they must do 10 burpees the following day, plus the 11 burpees owed for that new day.

A burpee, which is similar to a squat thrust, is an intense exercise that combines a squat, a push-up and jump. You may think the name reflects what happens after you try the exercise too soon after lunch, but it’s actually named after Royal H. Burpee.

In the 1930s, Royal H. Burpee created a test that used burpees to measure agility and coordination for the U.S. military. The test was included in his book, “Seven Quickly Administered Tests of Physical Activity.”

Burpee (1898-1987), a World War I veteran, served as the overseas program director for the United Service Organization (USO) during World War II. Between the wars, he earned a doctorate in physiology from Columbia University.

A lifelong advocate of physical fitness, Burpee was also the executive director of Bronx-Union Branch of the New York City Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) from 1946 to 1964. He continued to be involved with the Greater New York YMCA until his death in 1987 in Easton, Pa., home of CrossFit Advanced.

While it’s not clear whether Burpee invented the exercise, or just made it famous with his test, the move is still being done today. This June 4 marks Royal H. Burpee’s 115th birthday, and CrossFit Advanced, led by owner Greg Tymon, thought it would be fun to celebrate the day in a unique way.

“The burpee is the king of all exercises,” Tymon said. “It takes coordination. It takes strength. Do more than a handful, and it takes endurance.”

Yet the burpee is also an exercise that does not require special equipment, or even a lot of space, he said. It’s a staple of CrossFit workouts, and is one of the best conditioning exercises around, Tymon said. In addition to CrossFit, burpees are still favorites of football coaches and military trainers everywhere.

Also, Royal H. Burpee’s military background is a natural fit for CrossFit, which often honors fallen military heroes with especially difficult or challenging workouts, Tymon said.

“I like to think if Royal Burpee were alive today, he’d be a fan of CrossFit,” Tymon said. “We certainly are a big fan of his.”

Burpee’s grandson, Royal H. Burpee III, who lives in Easton, will be invited to attend the grand finale of the Royal Burpee Challenge on June 4th.

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