Burpees are not the easiest of exercises.
A combination of a bodyweight plank, a push-up and a squat, they are often performed at high intensity as part of an aerobic workout.
Now imagine doing a mile of them.
1.6km of burpees.
That’s what Chris Senior, assistant principal of Chanel College in Masterton, about 13 students and a few police officers completed in support of Mental Health Awareness Week [MHAW] this year.
The team started on the college playing field at 10am, and some competitors admitted to “a few nerves” before the start.
Tactics for surviving the challenge in one piece varied.
“I paced myself”, Senior, who is also head of sport, physical education and health at Chanel, said and finished in an impressive 55 minutes.
Others opted for a more enthusiastic approach.
“So a few went out early, and they fell behind”, Senior said.
The slowest participant took 2 hours and 17 minutes, which to most people still sounds like a respectable result for such a gruelling physical task.
A student in a banana costume that was slightly worse for wear for being burpeed around the Chanel sports track four times said he took “too long”.
The event followed a term studying mental health as part of the College’s police pathway class, Senior said.
“We wanted to do something to raise awareness about mental health and to raise some money. Too many young people are struggling with mental health issues, and NZ has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world.
“We were thinking of ideas about what to do, and somebody suggested a burpee mile, and we thought, ‘why not?’.”
The burpee busters raised over $2000 for the I Am Hope Foundation, founded by mental health advocate, television personality and former comedian Mike King.
“I Am Hope is doing an amazing job educating our young people and need more funding to support their plans to reach further”, Senior explained.
The theme for MHAW this year was ‘five ways, five days’, and raised awareness of a set of proven tools to boost mental health, including staying active.
The burpee mile was “physically tough and mentally tough”, Senior said, and was a great way to end the term.
Some participants thought about whānau and friends affected by mental health challenges while undertaking the challenge.
Student Nikita had her older brother and nana, who had both struggled with mental illness at times, in her mind while she powered around the course in 90 minutes.
“My family couldn’t believe I was doing this”, she said.
Having finished the police pathway class, Nikita plans to enter the police force when she finishes college.