How a burpee could save your life – Peggy’s story

“If I were to fall down, I wouldn’t be able to get up, I don’t know what I would do.”

Here’s how the much-maligned burpee, can potentially save your life.

Meet Peggy, that quote was one of the first things she told us. Peggy is 76 years old, a cancer survivor, retired dancer and complete badass. She contacted us about 9 months ago asking if we could help her with a few goals. The first was to be able to get off the floor and back to standing if she fell, because after years of chemo, she had been robbed her of much of her strength and balance.

“Let’s learn the burpee”

 There are two rules of training in our CrossFit classes. One, methods will only be taught that have direct utility in the real world. Two, that the movements be coached to be appropriate for everyone regardless of age, ability of experience in each class. Cue, the burpee.

If you were to fall in the street, and need to get back up quickly, you would be doing a burpee (ok, maybe you could skip the clap over-head…). Therefore, we started by breaking the movement into parts; a squat, a plank, a push up, balancing back to standing. Peggy’s needs weren’t any different than anyone else’s, just the methods to learn and achieve them, and so that’s where we began.


That’s how many burpees Peggy did, unassisted during a workout of the day a few weeks ago that was a 3- minute burpee test. Peggy came in looking for greater self-sufficiency, to take back control of her life, to learn a burpee. Now, she does them as part of class warm ups (with a smile) and along the way she’s learned all the rest of the movements we use in CrossFit classes. And that’s the point. To understand, and not be limited by our bodies, but rather embrace our body. So, next time you’re doing burpees, say a breathless “thank you” for the body you have and if you’re in the 6am class, watch out for Peggy closing on you…

Categories: WOD