Essential Fitness

As a cop, every workout is preparation for the fight of your life

By Greg Amundson  |   Jan 16, 2015

In 2001, I was fresh out of the South Bay (Calif.) Regional Police Academy with my Field Training Officer (FTO) Program behind me. I was ready to hit the street. Or so I thought …

Within one week of being a “solo deputy” with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, I got my ass handed to me in a fight. Good thing my former FTO arrived on scene to help subdue the suspect. I told my FTO it felt like I’d been breathing through a straw, that my muscles were moving in slow motion, and that it felt like I was about to die.

Although I prided myself on being physically fit, this experience showed me that something was missing. I knew I needed more—something entirely different. A new way of training my mind, body and spirit to ensure my victory on the street against the unknown and unknowable threats to a law enforcement officer.

Shortly after the “fight for my life” I heard a rumor circulating through the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community of Santa Cruz about a little gym with some hardcore workouts. I found the phone number to the gym, called “CrossFit,” and dialed none other than Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit. Glassman invited me to try a workout the next day.

Following my first workout, I knew I’d found the Holy Grail of fitness. From the moment the workout started, to the moment I crumbled into a heap on the gym floor, it felt like I was on the street, fighting for my life. I intuitively knew the more often I subjected myself to the feeling of entering a fight, and coming out the other side victorious, the better I would be. The training was giving my mind and body the winning edge, and I knew it.

Within a few months of training with Coach Glassman, friends from San Jose Police Department started to join me at 6:00 a.m. for the workouts. I’ll always remember the interesting chain of events that started to unfold one morning.

A professional soccer player had joined the 6:00 a.m. crew for a workout. The soccer player asked Coach Glassman if he needed special programming for his sport. Coach said

“Yes, you need to do thrusters and pull-ups.” (A “thruster” is a traditional and original CrossFit movement, involving a full front squat into a press, usually performed with a weighted barbell.) The soccer player was excited that he’d received this “special programming” from Coach Glassman.

Later on, a similar interaction took place, this time with a professional basketball player. Once again, the “secret programming” that Coach Glassman prescribed was “thrusters and pull-ups.”

After hearing this advice for both the soccer and basketball player, I decided to ask Coach if, as a cop, I needed special programming. “Hey Coach, what should I do? Let me guess: thrusters and pull-ups, right?”

Coach looked at me and said, with the utmost seriousness: “Yes kid, you need to do thrusters and pull-ups also. But unlike those soccer and basketball players, you need to go as hard as you can, every single time. You need to train like your life depends on your fitness, because it does.”

Those words stuck with me, and to this day, every time I train, my mindset is this: This is my last workout before the fight for my life. If I win here, I can win anywhere.

Are you training with that level of commitment? Train hard today, my friend. Train as if your life depends on it because, I can tell you, it does.

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Greg Amundson is the owner of CrossFit Amundson and Krav Maga Santa Cruz, and the Law Enforcement Liaison for CrossFit Inc. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz, the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, South Bay Regional Public Safety Academy and the U.S.DEA Federal Academy, Amundson started his CrossFit training in Dec. 2001 at the original CrossFit Headquarters gym in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he was coached and mentored by CrossFit founders Greg and Lauren Glassman. A former U.S. Army Captain, SWAT operator with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office and Special Agent with the DEA, Amundson continues to serve as a Reserve Peace Officer in Santa Cruz, Calif.

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