The BeWOW Breakdown: Two Philly Runners Test-Drive the Be Well Workout of the Week

fit testers

BeWOW tester Alon Abramson and friend Shaheen Beg doing this week’s workout.

Welcome to our new weekly feature, the BeWOW Breakdown, in which two local runners try out — and review — our latest Be Well Workout of the Week (That’s BeWOW — get it? — for short). If you’re new to Be Well Philly Land, local personal trainer Audrey McKenna Hasse posts workouts every Monday right here on the blog. She’s been doing so for a few years now, and her workouts have earned a bit of a cult following.

To wit: A week or two ago, Rebecca Barber and Alon Abramson, the runners you’ll meet below, emailed us to say they do Audrey’s workout religiously week in and week out, and wouldn’t it be fun to post reviews about the weekly workouts so readers can get a better idea of what to expect? “Why, yes,” we said. “That would be fun.” And so Rebecca and Alon graciously offered up their legs, lungs and limbs for this little experiment. Check out their first installment, a tried-and-tested review of this week’s Be Well Workout of the Week. See if they survived below.

This Week’s Workout: Muscle-Burning Burpee Workout

Testing date: Monday, October 19th. See the workout here.

The Breakdown
Total time commitment: 30 minutes
Difficulty (out of five 😭): 😭 😭 😭
Soreness factor: It’s going to be a bit tough to lift our arms tomorrow.
Overall grade (out of five 💪):💪 💪 💪 💪 💪 

First impression: We picked an interesting day to start our “workout testing” for BWP. We both ran a half-marathon yesterday (Alon PR’d by six minutes, and Rebecca ran 20 seconds off her PR without trying). So when we opened up this week’s workout and saw the ominous words “because you love burpees … ,” our first thoughts included a lot of words we aren’t allowed to print. Overall, the number of reps plus the pull-ups (neither of us had been doing many pull-ups, and 25 total is a lot) made this workout look like it was going to be super hard, even if we hadn’t just raced 13.1 miles.

Afterwards: As we went through the workout, we realized that it was, surprisingly, very reasonable. We chose fairly moderate weights (10/15lbs for the rows and presses and 20/25 for the kettlebells) and so the high rep count felt right. The burpees we had been dreading actually wound up being amazing for recovery between each exercise. And the best part was that the workout was almost entirely upper body and core work, so our tired legs didn’t hold us back. In fact, the kettlebells and squats helped loosen us up. As we worked through the sets, the number of burpees also dropped and that just made the workout feel progressively faster and easier — not a common feeling. The whole workout only took us 30 minutes, including taking turns doing pull-ups on the single available assisted machine.


About our testers: 

Rebecca Barber is the founder of the Rocky 50K Fat Ass Run, a just-for-fun 50K run that follows Rocky Balboa’s footsteps in Rocky II. She’s a 16x marathoner and 14x ultra marathoner, having started running when she was a kid. She’s an active volunteer with Back on My Feet Philadelphia, where she works to help the homeless community use running as a means to better their lives and find stable employment and housing. When not running all the miles, she is the social media coordinator for The Wharton School.

Alon Abramson is the founder of the West Philly Runners, the creator of – a web resource for running in Philadelphia – and the organizer of a number of running events in Philly, including the annual 26×1 Mile Team Marathon Relay, Beat the Bus, and Beat the Commute. Running since high school, Alon is an on-again, off-again runner with ebbs and flows to his mileage and commitment. More recently however, he’s taken a new approach to training, emphasizing cross-training and speed work as much as building up mileage and this has dramatically improved his running performance. When he’s not organizing and running, Alon works as a research project manager at Penn’s Institute for Urban Research, studying energy efficiency best practices. He’s on a number of non-profit boards and works on his whole-home retrofit project whenever there’s free time.

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