The Marines famously have the reputation of being “first to fight.” But one Marine has earned another, lesser-known, distinction: first woman to complete 27 chest-to-ground burpees in one minute.
Sgt. Nahla Beard, an air traffic control supervisor at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, smashed the Guinness World Record in burpees on Aug. 14, 2021, the service announced last month.
Because of coronavirus restrictions, a Guinness judge could not be in attendance to verify the Marine’s burpees in person. That meant Beard had to record herself and submit a video of her achievement. Base command turned out to watch, and even brought along friends and family, Beard said in a DVIDS story.
Onlookers were not disappointed: Beard broke the record by two burpees, completing an average of one burpee every 2.2 seconds. And she did it more than once.
“I ended up attempting five times on the same day because I wasn’t sure if I did it,” Beard said in the release.
The Marine noted that she became interested in physical fitness after sustaining a back injury during her second year in the military, one that left her in recovery for nine months.
“When I felt like I was back at 100 percent, I really started getting into fitness so I would avoid getting injured again,” Beard said.
Beard’s dedication to fitness coincided with a focus on mobility and stretching, according to the DVIDS story. She also volunteered to monitor the physical fitness test and ultimately became certified to conduct PFTs and combat fitness tests.
“I got into high intensity tactical training for a really long time and participated in the HITT competition they had on base,” Beard said in the DVIDS story. “That was really fun. It built my stamina to the point where I was able to do a lot of burpees, and then that’s when I looked up the world record out of curiosity.”
Beard trained for three months specifically for the Guinness World Record in burpees, an exhausting exercise that involves squatting with one’s hands on the ground, jumping into a plank position, springing back up onto one’s feet and then hopping once.
Developed by American physiologist Royal Huddleston Burpee in the 1930s, the exercise is considered a staple of high-intensity training because of how efficiently it tires out the entire body.
As if regular burpees weren’t hard enough, a chest-to-ground burpee adds yet another step: lowering one’s chest to the ground while one is in the plank, like in a pushup. That’s the burpee variety Beard did to earn her Guinness World Record.
The exacting standards of Guinness World Records’ also required Beard to splay her arms to the side while her chest was on the ground, according to DVIDS.
But completing the burpees wasn’t enough to earn Beard a record. She also had to prove it.
“[Guinness] kept on emailing me asking for more evidence to help verify it more,” she said in the DVIDS story. “When they gave me their final email, my heart dropped for a bit when I saw the word ‘congratulations.’”
Guinness World Records did not respond by publication time to a Marine Corps Times question about when it officially recognized Beard’s record. The previous record of 25 chest-to-ground burpees in one minute, meanwhile, was set on June 1, 2019, by Louise Robertson of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, according to Guinness representative Kylie Galloway.
Beard did not rule out striving for more Guinness World Records, but she said in the DVIDS story that, for now, she is focusing more on powerlifting. She is also working toward a bachelor’s degree in nutrition.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.