I'm writing this article strictly to address one issue; fitness for first responders in tough economic times. Equipment cost, adequate space, professional trainer's fees, injuries, ouch! Most departments conclude that it's just too expensive to administer a department-wide fitness policy. What a shame...
After speaking with scores of fire department officials around the country over the last few years, I've found that most lead with a line about lack of funds before they ever mention a single word about fitness. I know what you need. I understand the fiscal crunch and mountains of bureaucratic red tape.
A few departments manage to get some type of program up and running, and I applaud their success. But as a firefighter fitness professional for over 20 years, I feel we need a fitness program tailor made for first responders. Let's take a close look at what that means:
A First Responders Fitness Program Must Be:
- cost effective
- safe and not CREATE MORE INJURIES than it helps
- builds strength / endurance / flexibility
- health and performance oriented
- appropriate for men, women and all ages / fitness levels
- practical to execute and recovered from easily
Additional Benefits Include:
- competitive and challenging, increases adherence
- works well in a group setting
- reduces boredom and increases participation
- healthy / rehab effect on joints
- limited space is required
- little equipment necessary to get started
- based on proven Soviet science over 100 years
- can be utilized at many levels of program intensity
- improves cardiovascular health / blood pressure
- training builds camaraderie within the unit
- teaches pacing, proper breathing
- similar movement patterns / force production to fire ops
- prepares firefighter for weight of gear / tools
- improves toughness, mental fortitude
- timed sets mimics cardiovascular stress of fire operations
- develops functional fitness, ability to do work
- includes a gradual but safe progression
- everybody starts at the beginning, levels the playing field
So why isn't every firefighter already lifting kettlebells?
It seems that the internet can be a two-edged sword. Via the web, kettlebell training and other functional fitness modalities have gained much popularity over the last ten years. Google the word kettlebell and you'll get hundreds of results, but few, if any will speak of timed sets with professional grade kettlebells™. Valery Fedorenko and the American Kettlebell Club are trying to change that. Thanks to Valery, real kettlebell lifting, as it has existed in Eastern Europe for decades, has emerged on the scene in America.
In 2007 Valery formed the American Kettlebell Club (AKC) and appointed me the club's Fire Rescue Advisor. Using timed sets of specifically selected movements, I've created a First Responder Kettlebell Program along with Coach Fedorenko. This ingenious approach to firefighter fitness, using high-rep and timed sets, is what builds true health, fitness, and the work capacity a firefighter needs to operate safely.
After the initial training cost and small investment in a few prograde kettlebells, a fire company can virtually train for free, improving overall health and developing extreme work capacity. For more information on this low cost, high tech training option, please visit my website at: FireFightersWorkout.com