“We don't have any gym equipment”. We all know that person, maybe you're that person. You know, the one who blames the fact that there's no equipment, or not sufficient equipment, to work out. Dishing out the excuse that they think their peers will find valid enough to stay off their back. Well, here's the article to give you the road map to workouts with only a few pieces of equipment in your fire station, ambulance, or patrol car. And to give that person a good excuse TO work out.
Firefighters. We have it great. Not only do we have the best job in the world, but we get comfortable beds (usually), work with amazing people, cook the best food. We also have a vast array of resources available to us that we don't have to worry about fitting in a small section of ambulance storage space or the passenger seat of a LEO interceptor. Not only that, but most of the tools and equipment we use are of moderate weight. Take a 50' roll of 2½" hose, for example. Just by itself it comes in at 28 pounds. Double that up with another 50' and a smooth bore nozzle and you have a solid 60 pounds! A perfect weight to throw on your shoulders and do squats and lunges, shoulder presses, and as many exercises as your imagination can dream up (keeping flexibility and limitations in mind, of course). Most fire departments have more than one halligan, at least we would hope. Set those mighty tools up just a little bit more than chest width and make push-ups just a little more challenging.
Then we have my personal favorite; the tire and maul. These two, what seem like pretty ordinary things, are actually muscle building, endurance sucking tools that can kick your ass. A good sized tire, like an old tired from a fire truck or an old tractor tire, can weigh anywhere from 100-300 or more pounds. The constant lifting of that weight alone is a great work out. Now couple that with flipping this tire repetitively, say, ten times, and then smashing it with a maul 15-30 times on each side, and doing it 5-10 times. THAT is a good workout. We NEED to stress that proper form is key with this exercise. Improper form can be bad news for your back.
Police. Now you are a different bunch. Working out on patrol isn't easy. Nor would it look good to the public if they drive by and see you doing air squats outside your vehicle. What you do have, though, is paper work. And with paper work comes time. What you also have is a ballistic vest and other gear that adds decent weight. When you're typing up the report of the criminal you chased down or the vehicle pursuit, take 30 seconds our of the report and drop and do as many push-ups as you can. Stand up and do some lunges, then back to the report. Try to do this at least eight times but strive for more. You'll be happy you did. We have several more workouts available on our website focused on our Brothers in Blue.
EMT's and Medics are another group that have it difficult to train while on shift. But it's not impossible. Think of what you have available to you in, and on, your rig. The tailboard on the ambulance is a perfect height for incline or decline push-ups. Your jump bag is a perfect uneven load that can work on stability while at the same time building strength.
As medics you have the ability, at least most of the time, to either work out of a fire station, or stop into one for a quick workout. Also, you normally work a 10-14 hour shift, which gives you the ability to go to the gym after shift. I think at this point, you can see where I am going with this. There is NO EXCUSE.
Taking the step and deciding to get physically fit is one part of the game. As first responders, we set a standard not only for ourselves, but the communities we serve, the children who aspire to do what we do, and especially our brothers and sisters we serve with. With that one step taken by yourself, you can soon be on your way to physical greatness and a healthier, happier life.
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Ian is a professional fireman, a Veteran Air Force Firefighter, and a Certified Personal Trainer with ten years in the fire service. His passion for physical fitness has led him to begin Thin Line Fitness.