The above slogan is posted in the workout area of my fire station. You could also find it posted in the workout areas of all City of Vaughan fire stations. For myself, they are words of encouragement. They are also an answer to the question, why? These nine words are exactly why I am passionate about taking part in fitness activities, although my fitness activities started long before I read them.
I have always played sports and “lifted” to some degree. There is currently a culture shift in my fire service, as well as in society, as we see more and more people living active lifestyles. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that today almost 54% of Americans meet the government’s aerobic exercise recommendation. In the words of the great Mark Sisson, “we all want to look good naked”.
When I was first transferred to my current station four years ago the crew did not regularly workout. Now I am not trying to take credit for anything but within a short time after my arrival, we started our regular afternoon crew workouts while on shift. In the past, some members would have their individual routine while others did not. I feel that our regular crew WOD has given us a better sense of being a team and we are on a healthier path towards taking care of ourselves. The lifestyle is also extending beyond being healthy at the firehall and I would like to think that my crew has a healthier attitude towards their lives.
For those of you that do not know, firefighters working with Vaughan Fire and Rescue work a 24-hour shift. We start at 7 am and finish the following day at 7 am. Working for that long a period, it is evident that we have ample time to carve an hour out of our time to get some exercise beyond the job while at work. We are like professional athletes in that we get paid to stay in shape (our Fire Chief calls us tactical athletes). We try to start our workouts around 4 pm. Our crew of eight usually do a skill followed by a rotating eight station circuit (sound familiar?). When the temperature hit 10C recently, we moved our circuit outside at the back of the fire station. It was amazing! Once we are finished working out we enjoy a healthy crew meal. It is like being part of one big happy family! We encourage each other, rely on each other, kibitz and sometimes disagree, but mostly we function like a well-oiled, healthy machine, just like the CrossFit community.
Now, there are days when our workout gets kiboshed (it is a real word, look it up) due to operational needs, similar to our civilian lives when, well life just gets in the way. And that is okay. I know that next shift we will probably get time for our workout, just as you know that you will most likely not miss your next opportunity to get the gym.
So, what happens when one of the crew says, “I don’t feel like working out today” or “such and such is sore today”? You know the feeling. I am as guilty as the next person. We just guilt them into joining the group because they can’t run and hide. In all seriousness, that individual usually ends up joining the group once we start warming up because there is that feeling of guilt and knowing their excuses are just that, excuses.
I know that when you are at home some of you curse and swear (in your heads of course) because you don’t want to go to the gym, yet you jump in the car anyway and hope it takes you in the other direction and it doesn’t, so you end up at Crux. You drag your butt into the gym (the hard part is over) and tell yourself “I am going to take it easy today” and you don’t, because that is just the way it is. On your way out, you tell yourself “I’m glad I made it to the gym today”. And even if you did take it easy, most of you know me by now, that I’m okay with that. The important thing is that you walked into the building and put in some work. When I walk into Crux I think about why I am there and why I work out. Duty. Family. Life. So, Why are you there and why do you work out?
Live Long. Drop dead.