Edina resident Stephanie Tennessen broke the Guinness World Record for the most chest-to-floor burpees in 60 minutes last September.
“It’s just such a big accomplishment to be able to take on something like this and be successful during such a stressful time,” Tennessen says.
An athlete from a young age, Tennessen says she developed her true passion for fitness after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 18. Gaining 50 pounds in two months after her treatments, she began to actively workout as soon as she was healthy enough. As a result, she became captivated with all things exercise and went on to obtain a personal training license in addition to being a licensed a massage therapist for athletes.
“I think it is important to focus on goals and things that are in our scope of what we can control,” Tennessen says.
Her record-setting journey began after she listened to the book Can’t Hurt Me by U.S. veteran David Goggins last summer. As the only man to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he also broke the pull-up world record in one hour (after three attempts). Inspired by his story, Tennessen wanted to tackle her own challenge, with burpees that is.
Setting a timer for 60 minutes, Tennessen’s first practice run started with her doing 10 burpees a minute, on the minute for a total of 600. Only needing 110 more to beat the previous record, she was determined to do what it took to get there. To mitigate her range of motion throughout the challenge, Tennessen worked with Twin Cities Orthopedics certified strength and conditioning specialist/personal trainer Ryan Schlinger to formulate a method based on her habitual trends. They settled on Tennessen accomplishing 13 burpees every minute for the first 22 minutes and then 11 burpees every minute for the rest of the challenge, with a break during the 24-26 minute time marks.
Officially attempting the challenge last March, Tennessen was disqualified due to her foot touching the taped boundaries on the floor, causing her to miss her target by just six burpees. Not giving up, she continued to train.
“It has helped keep me sane during COVID-19 and it helped keep me focused on being present in the moment and getting through each day,” she says. “Being able to do burpees at home was life saving for me.”
In preparation for her second attempt, Tennessen completed a total of 36,000 burpees. In September, she successfully broke the record.
“It was amazing being a part of it and I have never experienced anything like it,” Schlinger says. “Just to see someone else accomplish such a tough goal was great, I teared up at the end.”
This May, Tennessen hopes to break another world record by completing 924 chest-to-ground pushup burpees in an hour. The difference this time will be the level of cardio involved. Training with 1,500 burpees a week, Tennessen will also incorporate 60-minute interval training to help increase her stamina.
“She is one of the most motivated people I have worked with,” Schlinger says.