If you have read my past 1st Responder News articles, you may notice a trend forming. I’m sure when you see the word 'fitness' though, the trend that is forming doesn’t come to mind. Most folks probably think these articles are about backs and bi’s, and chest and tri’s, or the latest diet and exercise craze that’s sweeping the nation; but they're not. They are about a cultural shift within the fire service. Hopefully by now, I have laid a good enough foundation to have most of you convinced that this change needs to occur, and needs to occur now.
Somehow, the fact that for the past 15 years, cardiac related events have been the leading killer of firefighters nationwide, just doesn’t seem to be enough. We still have firefighters who believe that being fit is not part of their job description. But hey, thats the fire service that we all know and love. Change is bad, even if it makes you stronger, faster and healthier; i.e., a firefighter who is better at their job and who will live longer. Now the question is, where do we go from here? The answer my friends, is simple. We work to make ourselves better, which will in turn make the fire service better.
I recently spent some time with the Chief of a large department and he explained it to me like this: 'If my people are happy and healthy, then they are going to do a better job for the people we are here to protect. After all, they are the ones we are here for.'
So now it’s time to step up and make the change. You have to make this change in your life and you have to commit to it. It won’t be easy and it shouldn’t be easy. After all, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it! You will have failures, you will have bad days and you will continue going back to the old way. That’s all ok! That’s life. But just like an Alfred told a young Bruce Wayne: Why do we fall?? So we can learn to get back up again.
Each week I hear success stories from firefighters who are just like you, unsure if they should start working out, unsure of how to start, or where to go. The first day is always hard and the second day is even harder, but guess what; they should be! See, that's the thing firefighters need to accept about fitness. It always has to be hard, you can always get stronger and faster. You have to put in that hard work to get results. You are required to get results, not just for you, but for them, the people you swore an oath to protect.
You also have something unique to our society. You have hundreds and thousands of brothers and sisters who understand, who do our job everyday and know just how hard it is. Fitness brings us all together. We all have something different to bring to the table. We can learn from each other because there is no 'one' way to get “firefighter fit," just like there isn’t 'one' way to put out a residential structure fire.
Just like when we put out a fire, there are some tried and true strategies and tactics that will work to get you on a path to being fitter, and over my next few articles, I would like to highlight the ones I feel can provide the most benefit to everyone.
I am lucky enough to have a network of friends around the world, who work hard each and every day to stay fit. I am going to draw from them and share their experiences here. Should you have any ideas, questions or suggestions for this column, please feel free to email me at Pip@555fitness.com. After all, this is all about us; us changing the fire service culture towards fitness for the better.