Get Your Burpees in While Exercising with the Commissioners

By Rosie Newberry, KXAN

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On a cloudy, humid lunch hour in Austin, the southwest lawn of the Texas State Capitol is the place to head for a free workout class that is open to the public.

“Burpees by far are the hardest. They’re my nemesis,” said Wendy O’Neill, who works in Human Resources for the Texas Railroad Commission. She’s on an exercise kick. She just finished competing in Ironman Texas a few weeks ago. “I have a history in my family of certain illnesses, and diet and exercise are a key part of keeping that at bay.”

The class is led by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton. They’re working with the American Heart Association to bring this class to state government employees and the public, in honor of Global Employee Health & Fitness Month.

The workout is a rigorous one since it combines two popular programs. “Commissioner Sitton loves P90X, I’m more of a CrossFit guy and we tried to merge them,” said Bush. “So it’s kind of a fusion, if you will, between the two. And also just kind of a workout that appeals to all fitness levels.”

O’Neill came out to workout session Wednesday to see how her boss, Sitton, would fare as an exercise instructor. “If you didn’t know better, if you saw him doing that, you probably would think he was a fitness instructor!” said O’Neill.

“We thought, what a great way to get out and do this in a more public fashion to remind everyone that we work for Texas and that this is an important thing to do,” said Sitton. The Railroad Commission has 820 full-time employees. The Texas General Land Office has 572.

The two bosses hope to highlight a work-life balance.

“We hear constantly about the cost of healthcare, and the cost of being healthy,” said Sitton. “And what is missing in that whole conversation is the number one way to keep your costs of health care down is to stay in good health, which is diet and fitness.”

This is the first event of its kind, but the commissioners want a group class at least once a quarter. In the future, participants are encouraged to RSVP to the event on Facebook, though it isn’t required. Anyone who shows up to the class will have to sign a liability waiver.