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Parkersburg trainer awaits call from ‘American Ninja’

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeff Baughan Allison Burner strengthens her grip and upper torso during a workout in between client exercise classes at the Mountain River Physical Therapy Center.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeff Baughan
Allison Burner strengthens her grip and upper torso during a workout in between client exercise classes at the Mountain River Physical Therapy Center.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — There are many different definitions of being physically fit. According to medicalnewstoday.com the United States Department of Health and Human Services, it is “a set of attributes people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.” It consists of cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition and flexibility.

Having relayed this information, that definition can go in any number of directions. One can run long distances. Or lift weights until the ear lobes can flex. Some like to see how far they can push themselves over and under barriers and obstacles.

Allison Burner of Parkersburg is a personal trainer and has been involved in sports since the age of 4. She lives for that over and under barriers and obstacles.

Leaping over fire, slopping through mud, swimming through semi trailers filled with ice and water – she does that for miles. Uhm-hum, does that for fun.

Wearing a Supergirl outfit no less, “my alter ego,” she says, in many of the competitions. So, one shouldn’t be surprised she is awaiting a call from “American Ninja Warrior,” to be a participant. The next couple of months for her is training, training, training. Leaping, jumping, splashing, lifting and “doing things I never thought I could do,” she said. “There are so many equalizers on this course. You have to be strong everywhere physically. Mentally, even stronger. One lax moment on one obstacle… One is done.”

Burner, a member of the 1998 Big Red Girls State Track Champions, finished second in a 5K Warrior Dash in North Lawrence, Ohio. She finished the 12-mile Tough Mudder in St. Clairsville, Ohio, which she described as the “toughest thing I’ve ever done. The whole point of that thing is just to finish.” She also described it, however, as “just a big kid’s playground. You get to get muddy and I mean that gritty, dirty mud. You get wet with people hosing you down as you run through. Do all this, and no one yells at you for getting that way.”

She covered the event in three hours dealing with bear crawls, cargo nets, barbed wire, mud pits and some filled with water. Burner said she wasn’t a fan of distance races as she says she is built more for speed than distance, “but it was something I needed to do to prove some things to myself. That I can do this. And finish. And finish well.”

The Oct. 4 Reebok Spartan Sprint Race at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio is next on her list of “fun things” to do. That’s a 3.2 -mile-plus race. “That race has a failure penalty,” she said. “You have to do a penalty of 30 burpees if you fail to complete a part of that race before you can advance. I’ve done some crazy things in my life but the crazier they are, the more I want it. Ah, I’m just an adrenaline junkie,” she says with a smile and a laugh.

When she’s not running her bootcamp workout program at the Mountain River Physical Therapy facility in Parkersburg, she becomes a playground equipment junkie. Monkey bars and whatever else she can find to climb on, jump to and fro on, is fair game.

The 5-9, 151-pound workout machine has a measured vertical leap of 26 inches, bench presses 190 pounds, squats 275 pounds, stands on her head and presses her body up and down until she gets bored, walks the running track at the facility with an 80-pound dumbell in each hand.

And just for fun, every Wednesday and Friday, runs and then hops all 175 steps of the Quincy Hills stairway.

“Every daggone one of them,” she said. “Up and down. Ugh…”

Burner said she doesn’t calorie count but she “will carb(ohydrate) count. I eat eggs, turkey, steaks, sweet potatoes, brown rice, green veggies. I don’t eat anything white except eggs.” She is not a supplement junkie either – “nothing but a protein shake,” she said. “That’s it and nothing else.”

“I do a lot of body weight training,” she continued. “I do a lot of pullups. I do a lot of exercises to strengthen my grips…”

And she stands on her head and does push ups, propelling her body up using only her shoulders and arms. “I try to do exercises which I will need to perform on the course,” she said. “Forearms, upper back, hand stands, head stands. One has to be mentally strong for this as well as physically strong. The strategy is to maintain body control and keep one’s composure.”

According to Burner, what she will be attempting to do hasn’t been done by many women who make it to the finals – complete the course. “Only one has finished and only three have made it over the warped wall,” she said. “The first round the wall is 14 feet and tall and in the finals, it’s 17 feet tall.”

Burner said the wall at the Parkersburg skate park is 10 feet and she has “just ran out of it,” she said. “So I think I got a good chance with this and this is one of the hardest obstacles on the whole course.”

Burner added, “I’ve done some crazy things,” a moment of silence and a smile, “and the crazier it is, the more I want it. And to do this, it’s really crazy. And I really want it.”

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