Mike Berean takes a break from doing chest-to-ground burpees for nearly 12 hours.

Co-owner of Krav Maga Great Lakes Mike Berean set a world record with 5,010 burpees in a 12-hour period.

Featured photo courtesy of Melissa Abfalter

A burpee sounds like something fun to do. It’s not.

It’s a pushup and then some, a full-body exercise that begins and ends in a standing position and involves squatting.

Fighting through painful cramps, Mike Berean did 5,010 chest-to-ground burpees in a 12-hour period Oct. 27 and added his name to the list of Guinness World Records, beating the old record of 4,689 chest-to-ground burpees in 12 hours.

“The cramps were everywhere. My legs, chest, abs …” Berean said. “I kept going because I’m stubborn and my family was watching.”

Berean said the cramps hit about seven hours into his world-record effort and with about 3,600 to 3,800 burpees done.

“I wanted to do 5,400 burpees. That was my goal,” he said. “But I had to stop with about 15 minutes left (in the 12-hour period). My body said I couldn’t do any more. It was just too painful to continue.”

After taking a two-minute break each hour, Berean had to take longer breaks when the cramps hit.

“I needed time to get more fluid into my body and give my body a chance to relax,” he said.

While he was sore the next day, Berean said, he recovered quickly from the record-breaking effort.

Why did the 46-year-old former U.S. Marine go through that ordeal?

Berean is a third-degree black belt in Krav Maga and co-owner of Krav Maga Great Lakes, where he teaches his 200 students of all ages to push themselves beyond what they think they can do.

Krav Maga is a self-defense and fighting system developed by the Israeli military.

During October, Krav Maga studios worldwide raise money for the Marni Fund, created in the memory of Marni Levine, who died Aug. 31, 2006, at age 37 from breast cancer.

Levine was a founder of Krav Maga Worldwide along with her husband, Darren Levine. She was a fourth-degree black belt in Krav Maga, and the highest-ranking female instructor in Krav Maga in the world.

She also was a wife and mother with two daughters.

Nearly $4 million for breast cancer research has been raised by Krav Maga Worldwide in her honor.

Berean connected his burpees world record attempt with the Marni Fund. His burpees raised $7,653 through donations big and small.

“One person made a $400 donation and said he’d double it to $800 if I broke the record,” Berean said.

The former 12-hour burpees world record was set just a few months before Berean’s achievement and not that far away.

Bryan Abell, who at 23 years old is half Berean’s age, did 4,689 burpees July 7 at the YMCA in Milford.

Like Berean, Abell also raised money through his burpees. He did it for the Stronger Warrior Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that helps military members and their families.

Berean said he began training for his burpees world record attempt in August, after he couldn’t take the good-natured goading of one of his Krav Maga students any more.
“I was already doing about 300 burpees a day,” he said.

During his five hours of training a day for the world record attempt, he said, he bumped up his pace to 500 burpees an hour.

Berean said he learned about Krav Maga while he was serving in the Marine Corps in the early 1990s and is one of only a few people in the state who is certified to train law enforcement and military personnel in Krav Maga.

He owns Krav Maga Great Lakes with his wife, Dori, who handled all the paperwork and collected the donations for his world record burpees effort.


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