Me, burpees and how you can get better as speaking (by stealth)

burpeesFor the last year in the mornings I have attended an outdoor boot-camp exercise class… come rain or shine, wind or heat wave, myself and around ten other women run, swing kettlebells, press ups and a variety of other strength exercises.

My personal nightmares though are the evil exercises called burpees. For those of you who have not yet been introduced to such torture, burpees involve dropping from standing into a squat then thrusting your legs into a plank or push up position, then back to the squat position before returning to standing. Yep. Killers. And when I started classes a year ago I might have managed one before collapsing into a heap, heart pounding, legs aching and arms wobbling.

So any mention of burpees brings with it an inner sense of dread and an audible groan from me, every time. Sometimes as I am approaching the outdoor area where we exercise I will even find myself thinking , ‘Oh I hope there are no burpees today’ If you ask me what do I hate about exercising, burpees will always come to mind. In fact it is almost reflex to grimace as I say the word.

But here’s the thing: this morning I did 100 burpees. On top of all the other exercises we did. Not all at once, but I did it. And they were good form. And while I certainly ached, I survived. 100 burpees. That would have been unheard of a year ago. I’ve got better – almost by stealth!

When I speak with people about their experience of presenting, sometimes they will groan. Nearly everyone will say, ‘Ooh. I hate giving presentations.’ (they may qualify this with, ‘I’m alright provided I know what to say, but I don’t really enjoy them’). It is almost a reflex. And sure, when you start delivering presentations, it can be hard work, the skills set may or may not be three, there is a lot of effort being expended, and the form may not be especially elegant. But stop a moment. Is it a reflex to say this? Are the circumstances that made you say this the first time still the same? Have you got in the habit of dreading, hating or avoiding?

You see, the more you deliver, the more you get used to delivering and the more you get feedback and practice, the easier it becomes. And the better you become. Honest. Delivering a presentation once a year is a bit like me doing one burpee a year. I will never get better. But seeking out opportunities to speak and grabbing the chance when they arise, means that you can get better each time you present. Just as I have, almost without realising it, got better and stronger and more efficient at burpees.

So I am off now to soak in the tub, recover from my morning class. But secretly I am loving the buzz of stretching my physical body. And wouldn’t it be great to get that buzz from stretching your presenting muscles?

If you are interested in joining A Speak Up Plus programme (8 month programme including practice and feedback), then click here for information about the new programme starting on July 30th 2015.

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