A lot of the time, working out is for personal gain. We work out to relieve stress, get healthy, and just feel better overall. But what if we could work out to benefit others for a greater cause?
For Sarasota fitness instructor Liz Raedeke, you absolutely can. And it all starts on Instagram.
During the months of April and May, Raedeke participated in two fitness challenges by posting videos of herself doing burpees—a workout move that combines a plank, jump and squat into one. In April, she completed 2,000 burpees (about 60-100 daily). Followers would watch her progress (@lizfitfillment) and click a link to donate to the cause. In April, she exercised for the organization Stop Solider Suicide.
Raedeke, who owns a franchise of the nationwide Camp Gladiator fitness training program, raised more than $1,000 with the help of fellow instructors for the organization, which offers mental health services to struggling veterans. She chose the cause because it's close to her heart.
"My father passed in 2019 from suicide," she explains. "He was not a veteran, but through my grieving process, I've learned to understand the importance of mental health support and learning how to talk to the surviving family and friends of those who've passed."
For a week in May, Raedeke joined a new cause—helping underprivileged youth attend summer camp. She did another burpee challenge through the program Burpees for Victory. She posted videos on Instagram, and helped more than 25 kids get scholarships to Camp Gladiator's fitness camps in Florida and Texas.
The challenge will culminate in a final in-person event called a Burpee-a-thon with fellow instructors on Wednesday, May 11. For every $5 donated, one burpee will be completed.
"I've already raised $1,000 and for each $1,000, I will get a pie in the face from my fitness clients," Raedeke says. "It's a fun incentive—and payback for all the burpees and tough workouts I have them do."On a national level, Camp Gladiator has raised more than $300,000, almost half of the overall goal for the cause.
Why burpees? Raedeke argues that burpees are one of the most challenging workout moves out there. Pushing through and gaining momentum gives the same energy people should embody when giving back to the community, she posits.
"There are other exercise challenges that can be done, like push-up challenges or jumping rope," says Raedeke. "I am planning to complete an 8,000 squat challenge later this year for The Green Beret Foundation and Team RWB, an organization specializing in veteran education."
When she's not completing challenges, she is training others. Her five-week workout program meets up at area parks, churches and elementary schools. Her Instagram also includes a health survey you can fill out to get a free consultation.
"I love sharing what I do on social media," says Raedeke. "I'm a natural teacher, and love giving people the opportunity to challenge themselves, too."