ELMHURST – Elmhurst resident and gym owner Nick Janowitz was tired of making excuses, so he decided to break a Guinness World Record by doing more than 10,000 burpees in 24 hours.
After retiring from MMA fighting about seven years ago, Janowitz yearned for competition. Even though he was forced to leave the sport after sustaining a significant hip injury, Janowitz didn’t want to leave behind the way in which he challenged himself to reach goals and consistently pushed himself to the limit.
“I felt like that in my midlife I wasn’t doing what I had been doing my entire life, and that was compete,” Janowitz said. “I don’t want more injuries, but I’m not done competing.”
At 1 a.m. May 2, Janowitz arrived at his gym, Patriot Sports and Fitness, and began doing burpees in his official attempt to break the Guinness World Record. He did them in front of a video camera inside a roped-off area of the gym and next to a large digital clock.
A burpee is a strength and aerobic exercise that’s done in four steps: starting in the standing position, the person drops into a squat with both hands on the ground, kicks the feet back, immediately returns to the squat position and jumps.
“It’s one of the most hated exercises out there,” Janowitz said. “That’s one of the reasons why I picked it.”
At 5:29 p.m. May 2, Janowitz had to do about 1,000 more burpees to break the record. Jeremy Miller and Fil Marino supported their coach by doing burpees with him. People were starting to gather around Janowitz, taking pictures and cheering him on while the DJ loudly played Bruno Mars.
Janowitz was doing 10 burpees and then resting for 30 seconds, a rate of about 600 burpees an hour.
“So many people walk through my gym making excuses for everything like bad knees, bad backs, kids, a hard day at work, all these excuses,” Janowitz said. “I don’t want to be that guy, I don’t want my kids to make excuses and I don’t want my [gym] members making excuses.”
At 6:40 p.m., Janowitz only had 300 burpees left and there were about twice as many people watching. His wife, Tracy Janowitz, had just finished leading a fitness class and was emceeing the event with a beer in her hand.
Janowitz didn’t do anything special to prepare for the world record attempt. The most burpees he had ever done before the attempt was about 3,000 in one day.
“I’m going into it pretty cold, I have been working out a little harder over at the gym, but I stick with my boxing and wrestling and jiu jitsu and my strength training,” Janowitz said. “It’s all mental, I’m in decent shape, the rest is mental.”
“If he sets himself a goal he is going to smash it,” Tracy Janowitz said. “If anybody can do it, it’s [Janowitz]. He is super competitive. He is the strongest person I know, mentally and physically.”
At 7:09 p.m. the crowd started to count down the 25 burpees that Janowitz needed to do to break the Guinness World Record.
“Most of the time I spend my time yelling at people,” Janowitz said. “It was nice to see all those people yelling at me and motivating me.”
At 7:11 p.m. Janowitz reached 10,000 burpees and broke the record.
The next day, while reliving his experience, he recalls how much his body started to hurt when he reached about 8,000 burpees. He was doubting his ability to break the record when Marino and Miller started to do burpees with him.
“That right there gave me a second wind like you don’t believe,” Janowitz said. “I coached them their entire life, since they were nine or 10 years old, and now they are coaching me. That was the most rewarding feeling.”
Janowitz’s new record is unofficial until Guinness World Records can watch the tape and confirm the achievement, which according to Janowitz, can take up to three months.
Unofficial records broken by Janowitz
Most burpees in 24 hours: 10,164 (completed in 17 hours)
Most burpees in 12 hours: 7,130
Most burpees in one minute: 50