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The “Donny” Workout.

Diary of a CK Elite Client

It had been two weeks since I’d done any cardio with Chris, as our last two PT sessions had been focused more on weights and resistance training. In those two weeks I’d kept up my cardio on my own at the gym, and felt like I was making good progress—I was certainly getting better at this running and rowing thing. But without Chris there to keep my going, I was worried I’d fallen into the trap of being too easy on myself when I was on my own, and giving up on things before I got too tired. I needn’t have worried. All that was about to change.


After the usual warm ups and a few deadlifts to make sure my technique was still on point, this week Chris said we were going to do something new called the “Donny” workout.

Apparently, this was an old Crossfit workout he had come across that mixed weights with intense cardio, all against the clock. Yep, the cardio was back with a vengeance this week—and there’d be no going easy on myself.

It all sounded straightforward enough: the workout began with 21 deadlifts, followed by 21 chest-to-the-floor burpees, jumping over the bar of the weights in between each one. Then, the same thing again, but in two sets of 15. Then two sets of 9. But just when it sounded like it was all getting easier, things took at turn: that final pair of 9 lifts and 9 burpees was followed by another set of 9 lifts and 9 burpees, then another set of 15 lifts and 15 burpees, and a final set of 21 lifts and 21 burpees. All in all, that was 180 individual exercises. And there was only 14 minutes in which to do it.

The first set of deadlifts wasn’t too bad: I split the 21 into a set of 10 and a set of 11 with a breather in between, and managed to work my way through them alright. The burpees over a bar were a different matter. After a dozen or so, my legs were already burning, and after the first set of 21, frankly I was ready to wind down for the day and have a cup of tea. (Seriously, as an adult how often do you have to jump over things?) But there was no stopping yet. That clock was still ticking.

Needless to say, I didn’t quite make it to the full set of 180 in the time. In fact, I only just managed the halfway mark. But Chris reliably informed me that that was nothing to be ashamed of: even experienced, dyed-in-the-wool Crossfitters struggle to complete the entire Donny set inside the time, so even just getting into the fourth set of deadlifts was something of an achievement for a not-quite-so-dyed-in-the-wool guy like me.

Yes, it was hard. But once it was over, there was no denying that it had been really, really good fun. And more importantly, I’d been reminded just how hard I needed to work when I was on my own at the gym…


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