So, your life as a hero is busy. You still have time to work out

By J.D.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from police, fire, EMS, and first responder personnel when it comes to a fitness program is, “I don’t have enough time.”

Look, I’ve been there. I’ve pulled the back-to-back (to back) 24-hour shifts. I’ve been so dog-tired I could barely keep my eyes open, let alone answer the next call. Sometimes, I was too tired eat.

Everybody faces busy stretches where they don’t feel the can catch a break let alone catch their breath. But let’s face it, in most instances, those shifts are the exception, not the norm.

So, what are you doing in the meantime, in between calls, training, and cleaning gear — watching TV? Playing video games? Homework for a college course? Reading? Goofing off on your smart phone?

What I’m asking is, do you have 10-15 minutes where you can squeeze in some exercise? Because that’s really all you need to stimulate muscle growth, boost your metabolism, increase your core strength, and prevent yourself from getting injured on the job more easily.

I get not having the time (or the equipment) to do a full-scale workout. When I was still working the streets, I managed to either talk management into buying a small workout setup for our station or allowing a few of us at a time to visit a local 24-7 gym I belonged to.

But I also worked a couple of places where workout gear was non-existent and management didn’t give a flip about whether you were in shape or not. All they wanted were warm bodies to put on the schedule.

So, I learned to workout with minimal or no gear. All it really took was commitment.

What motivated me? The fear of failure. That’s right. I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of someday being unable to perform my duties as my patients relied on me in their hour of need. They were counting on me to see them through hard, tough, scary times; if I injured myself while trying to help someone, I would have failed in my mission and frankly, I couldn’t let that happen.

Plus, I just didn’t want to get hurt. Even early in my career, I watched as colleagues hurt their knees and ankles, and injured their backs moving heavy patients in equipment down stairs, out of vehicles, out of ditches, around corners and through small hallways, etc. Sometimes permanently.

I didn’t want that guy. So, I bought into fitness right off the bat. And I made sure to carve out some time while on duty to exercise and put in some work, even if I didn’t have any equipment in-house or a gym to go to.

The point is, people are depending on you. Every time you put on a uniform, you’ve made a silent agreement that when someone calls you and needs you, you’ll be able to do what you’ve been called to do. It won’t always require a lot of physical labor on your part, but working out and increasing bodily fitness also increases mental fitness. You’ll be sharper throughout your shift and stay sharper longer.

No matter how busy you are, you will nearly always have time — 10, 15, 25 minutes — to work out, even on duty. You must make the time to do it.

People are counting on you. And you owe it to them to be your best.

You train your mind by keeping up with the latest developments in your field. Why wouldn’t you train your body to be just as capable?