David Whipple has taken to cross-training on a regular basis since his son Army Spc. Blake D. Whipple was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan.
But the grueling fitness routine that the Amherst resident endured with a gym full of exercise partners Monday was, in both deed and spirit, a hero’s workout intended to honor the memory of his son, who was fatally injured two years ago Monday in Afghanistan.
The “Whip,” as Monday’s workout routine was dubbed, was the “Hero Workout of the Day” at the CrossFit Buffalo training center, off Union Road in Cheektowaga. It was 21-minute workout, in honor of Blake Whipple’s age when he died Nov. 5, 2010, after a roadside bomb exploded while the was on patrol in Ghazni province.
To commemorate the month, day and year he was killed, the workout routine consisted of 11 pushups, five squat cleans and 10 box jumps. The 155-pound weights used in squat cleans were chosen in honor of Blake Whipple’s weight.
Workouts of the Day, or WODs, are routine at CrossFit, and Heroes’ workouts are held periodically. Monday marked the third time the gym had honored Blake Whipple with one.
“Right after my son was killed in November, in January of the following year, Dave [Rice, CrossFit’s owner] called and said, ‘We’d like to do a WOD in honor of your son.’ He then asked me some information about my son,” said David Whipple.
As was the case Monday, Blake Whipple’s personal information was used as the basis for developing a workout routine.
“My wife and I, when we first heard about this, came and watched in January of 2011. Then six months later, my other son was going to run a tough mudder, so I thought maybe I ought to run with him in honor of [Blake],” David Whipple said.
Despite being advised by his other son that he might be too old for such an endeavor, David Whipple, who will turn 59 in January, signed up at CrossFit to train for the tough mudder, a 10- to 12-mile obstacle run, typically held at ski resorts. The obstacles are designed to mimic those used by the military’s Special Forces.
David Whipple also participated in last year’s “Hero WOD” in honor of his son. Monday, he took part twice.
“I normally work out with a group at 6 a.m.,” David Whipple said, “but I wanted to come back and work out with this group this afternoon. “To see all these people come out and do [the fitness routine] with you, it’s very emotional. It’s very honorable, because they’re doing it in recognition of Blake’s service.”
Sara Haugli, a 26-year-old graduate student at the University at Buffalo, found the workout invigorating, as well as exhausting.
“No workout here is ever the same, so they’re all different, unless it’s a benchmark, which means you do it the same on purpose,” said Haugli, whose boyfriend, Keith Van Wickler, is a trainer at the gym.
“I did 12 rounds and three pushups,” Afterward, “I was on the floor for quite a bit.”