Good physical conditioning is the cornerstone of good police work. On the street, a strong, durable, resilient and powerful body can be your greatest asset, especially in critical moments.
Furthermore, disciplined physical training leads to mental confidence, improves command presence, and has been shown to actually decrease an officer’s likelihood of having to use physical force. FBI studies confirm that suspects are more likely to fight with an officer they think they can defeat. An officer who looks physically fit, confident and self-assured is already a step ahead during contacts with potentially violent offenders.
Having worked patrol for many years with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, I’ll be the first to admit maintaining physical fitness takes time and commitment, and LEOs have never been busier or more committed than today.
For this reason, Calibre Press and I have teamed up to provide the law enforcement community a series of instructional fitness videos. Our goal is to educate and inspire you to make physical fitness a part of your daily routine.
In these videos you’ll find practical, foundational knowledge on top of which to build a lifetime of fitness. Each video segment will look at a specific skill, such as a Pull-up, and explain its fundamental points of performance, and relevance to the job. In addition, I’ve included fitness challenges to help keep you motivated, and create friendly competition and teamwork at your department.
Calibre Press has from its inception touted the importance of fitness for the Law enforcement profession. During my career with both the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and Drug Enforcement Administration, I proudly kept a copy of the book Street Survival in my tactical kit bag. In the book, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to fitness and mental preparedness for lethal encounters on the street. In the 35 years since the book was first published, much remains the same: You still wear duty gear, face physical confrontations, endure long sedentary periods and, on occasion, go for broke. Fitness eases the wear and tear and improves performance.
As I’ve outlined in the series on holistic fitness (see here, here and here) we know that eating right and exercising ensure officers are physically, mentally and spiritually prepared for the demands of the street. In addition, a committed fitness regime will improve your sleep and cognition, decrease stress and, in general, improve your quality of life. Exercising with colleagues—whether a CrossFit workout or a pick-up game of basketball—will improve morale and help forge healthy and lifelong friendships.
A safety note on the videos: These videos are for educational purposes only and can’t replace medical advice or diagnosis, or the professional coaching available to you at a CrossFit affiliate gym. Consult with your physician before beginning or making changes to your fitness regimen. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in our comments section or reach out to your department training coordinator.
There are numerous additional resources available to LEOs interested in continuing their education in the CrossFit method. CrossFit offers two courses with direct relevance to the profession, including the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Course and the CrossFit Law Enforcement Seminar. In addition, CrossFit offers, at no-cost, affiliation with CrossFit through the creation of a CrossFit Law Enforcement Affiliate Gym. Numerous Departments—from Oregon City Police Department to the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department Special Enforcement Bureau—have taken advantage of this great offering.
Further information on all the techniques and concepts from the videos, as well as department affiliation with CrossFit, is available at CrossFit.com, CrossFit Law Enforcement, the CrossFit Journal and the CrossFit YouTube channel.
These videos were created to educate and inspire you. However, as my friend and world renowned public speaker Kyle Maynard once told me, “Greg, the stronger the WHY in your life, the stronger your life will be.”
Bottom line is this: Why are you going to workout? Ultimately, every officer needs to develop a compelling reason WHY they are going to suffer through the demands of a fitness regime. It could be for your spouse, your children or your beat partner. But when the going gets tough, whether it be a brutal workout or a brutal fight, remember this equation: WHY = WILLPOWER. The stronger the WHY in your life, the stronger your will (and power) to fight and win.
Sadly, there’s another angle here to consider. As of the writing of this article and production of this video series, 13 law enforcement officers have lost their lives to heart attacks. The youngest was 23, another was 26, and eight were in their 40s. The oldest? 55.
Now is the time my friends. Make the commitment to yourself, your family, your friends, your department and this honorable profession. Train like your life depends on it—because it does.
Until next time.