Fitness For Long Island Firefighters

I've been training firefighters for a long time. After 22 years with the FDNY, I retired as Captain and started training mostly with young FDNY candidates. For the past three years, I've aggressively sought to bring fitness to Long Island's army of volunteer firefighters.

While volunteers may not be held to as strict a physical standard, fire is fire, and paid or volunteer, you need to be prepared to do battle. I've been there, crawled down hallways for 20 years. I know what it's like to work hard at a blowing-out-the-windows, all hands structural fire. Sometimes, I had to dig down deep to get the job done. Most of the firefighters I know do get the job done, fit or not. But the question is, "At what price?"

The human body needs to be prepared when called upon to do something really extreme. Adrenalin pumping, heart racing, blood pressure through the roof, are all typical body responses you experience at a working fire. It's necessary to recreate this level of physical exertion, gradually, safely. 

On February 6th of this year, I opened AKC Fitness Long Island, combining the two passions of my life, firefighting and kettlebell training. I proudly served with the FDNY from 1982 to 2004. Upon retirement, I was introduced to kettlebells when meeting world champion Kettlebell Lifting and probably the most knowledgeable lifter in the world, Valery Fedorenko. Genuine kettlebell lifting features high rep, timed sets that are as long as ten minutes and sometimes even longer. I was intrigued immediately, realizing the close match to firefighting with regard to physical exertion and mental fortitude. Ten minute CPAT (the job standard) and ten minute competition kettlebell set both feature full use of the body on every task (rep). I could almost hear my old lieutenant telling me to use my legs when pulling ceilings, a cue we give many times to new firefighter lifters learning push press (part of our firefighter program). Results have been nothing short of spectacular.

Timed sets of kettlebell lifting turns out to be a break-through discovery, but it's existed in Russia for decades. Don't confuse this with counterfeit kettlebells you see in American gyms, which is basically the same old exercises, only with a different shaped dumbbell. I'm talking about sets that last for minutes without setting the bell down, with technique that needs to be taught by a coach or high level instructor. This levels the playing field, as it's not just about strength, but stamina and work capacity.

I can rant all day about kettlebells and firefighting, but instead I'd like to make the departments on Long Island and offer they cannot refuse. For the month of June, (Fire-Fit Month) all firefighters, paid and volunteer can bring in a buddy and get HALF OFF. During the entire month of June, firefighters bring in one buddy, and get half off their own membership for the first month.  We also offer group rates for volunteer departments. 

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