I always enjoyed working out, but I didn’t always stick to a workout routine. You don’t have to wait for the New Year to begin to start focusing on your health and fitness.
Exercising in college for me was a healthy stress-reliever and it helped me to stay fit. When I joined the fire service, I became motivated to improve my fitness because of the physical demands. The heavy equipment and gear helped me with that motivation and desire. I agree with firefighters who say fitness should be a priority.
My company is blessed to have a gym in our station with 24.7 access. Providing that opportunity to members encourages fitness. I created a workout schedule to align with the times I would be at the station or after fire school. Following lecture nights during fire school I exercised at the firehouse gym. There were days that I counted the physical training skills at the Delaware County Training Emergency Services Center as my exercise for the day. My fitness goals came from personal drive and from advice.
My fire school instructors encouraged us to incorporate cardio into our workout routines. One of the first lectures focused on the importance of a healthy diet and exercise as an incentive to take care of our bodies. On the first day of fire school, one instructor encouraged us to start running to build our lung capacity for when we use our SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus). I decided to jog after class. I wanted to build up my endurance for school and for my volunteer firefighting duties. Firefighter functional fitness groups advise that our cardiovascular capacity is the determining factor in the work we can complete on the fireground.
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There were skills in fire school that we learned and practiced that tested us physically. While on a ladder we raised another ladder onto a peaked roof. We also advanced a charged hoseline several times up staircases and through buildings we trained in. It challenged us, and by working together as a team, we accomplished our jobs. As we grew individually and as a team, we may have thought we could not do something, but we changed our outlook to say that we could not do it yet. We worked toward overcoming those physical challenges, especially ones we will face often on the various emergencies we respond to.
“Strength and commitment does not come from things you already can do, it comes from overcoming things you previously could not do and would not have dreamed being able to do.” – Unknown