Crossfit University: Burpees and Blessings


Crossfit University:  Burpees and Blessings w/ Professor Naivalu

Remember attending Elements class, when you were introduced to the “Rules,”
(standards) of Aspen Crossfit? I remember hearing that I’d earn a “burpee,” for saying
certain words. Right then and there, I declared in my mind, “I will never earn a burpee
because I will watch every word that I say.” OOPS! (never!) And so the journey of self-
awareness and conscious and intentional living began.

Right away, I appreciated the concept, “Watch your words.” Because I had been raised,

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

However, this “Crossfit Code” took on new meaning the day my husband and I ran into
Captain Erik Larson at a park. Right in the middle of our conversation, Captain dropped
a burpee word, and before I even knew what was happening, he’d hit the deck to initiate
a burpee. Once on his feet again, he continued with the conversation. My husband (not
being a member of Crossfit at that time) had no idea what just occurred. He wondered
if it was some form compulsive muscle disorder, like uncontrollable tics? (I informed
him later, that it was a self-administered, behavioral consequence for his language.) At
that moment, however, I realized the power of integrity. Again, I remembered what I’d
learned as a youth:

Integrity is having the moral courage to make my actions
consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong.

Captain was pretty consistent.
Whether in the gym or at the park, he lives “The Code.”

Operating from an inner compass of truth, instead of from a desire to please others, or
an attitude of justification, or a lackadaisical approach toward fundamental values, was
something I wanted for myself and my children.

Soon after this park experience, I heard one of my boys calling his brother, “stupid.” I
was about to intervene with a typical response, “Don’t use that word!” Then, I thought of
Crossfit. “That’s 1 burpee.” I said.
“HUH!?!” said the culprit.
“You said the word ‘stupid,’ and we don’t say that in our family. To help you remember
to watch your words, you get to do a burpee (demonstrating the move) each time you say
that, or any other word that does not belong in our family.”
There was hesitation – was mom insane? Yet clear intrigue in the faces of all 4 boys.
While staring at me with a look of uncertainty, the child slowly moved to the ground for a
push up, then onto his feet with a jump and a clap. He waited for my reaction.

“Fantastic!” I said.
Then I explained to them that at Crossfit, I often do burpees for the words I say
like, “can’t, never, should and try.” I told them that sometimes, I hear myself saying
under my breath, “Well, I’ll try,” when a new exercise is introduced. And that I will
catch myself and do a burpee whether anyone else hears me or not.

Well, it didn’t take long for the boys to catch those 4 words coming out of my mouth
at home, and they’d shout out, “BURPEE, MOM!” Having seen me complete several
burpees a day made it simple and routine for me to, in turn, remind them to do a burpee
when they earned it as well. Most of the time, the situation is met with humorous
compliance and accepted as a simple reminder. Only once did my 6 year old declare, “I
WON’T DO A BURPEE.” In response, I quietly and calmly said, “That’s 2.” He
refused again. “That’s 3.” And onward and upward we went til I said, “That’s 7. Do you
want to earn a ton of burpees, or would you like to just do the 7, and get on with your
day?” He thought about it, got on his feet, and completed 7 burpees, and the situation
was over and done with. No one has ever earned more than 1 at a time in our house since


Crossfit has improved my life. It has enhanced my personal integrity and made me a
better role model for my children. It has given me new and EFFECTIVE parenting
techniques that build the “inner compass,” in my children and diminish the authoritarian
parental role that existed before.

Case in point: my 2 ½ year old and 4 year old were playing together, when I heard the 2
½ year old (I kid you not), say, “Oops, I hafta do a buhpee.” To which he dropped to the
ground and up again with a jump and a clap, performing a perfect burpee. The 4 year old
said, “Whad’ya say?” And the 2 ½ year old said, “I say ‘C-A-N-T.’” He spelled it out!
He caught himself. He administered the behavioral consequence to himself – at 2 1/2.!!!

The inner compass is one of the greatest gifts I could give to my children. It generates
moral and ethical behavior. It promotes honesty, self-confidence and security, and
naturally, leadership. It enables one to become a lighthouse in a day of tenuous values.

Who would’ve thought all this could be the result of a BURPEE?!

~"The Professor" Angel Naivalu, MSW

It's time to get your game on,
Isa GAME On!
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