There’s no doubt that firefighters need to be in exceptional physical shape. The job is incredibly challenging, requiring strength and endurance to handle the various duties. However, it isn’t always easy for firefighters to squeeze workouts in on their own time. Luckily, by implementing a firefighter shift fitness program, you can make exercising part of the job.
On-duty firefighter shift fitness programs allow working out to happen while on-duty. Not only does this make exercise part of a routine, but it creates opportunities to boost the capabilities of an entire crew.
If you want to get your crew involved in a firefighter shift fitness program, here’s what you can do to make it happen.
How to Get Your Crew Involved in a Firefighter Shift Fitness Program
If you want to start a shift fitness program, you may need to spend some time securing buy-in from your crew. As a result, it’s wise to prepare a few talking points, ensuring you can showcase exactly why working out on-shift is such a great idea.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some points to discuss when you want to get your crew involved in a firefighter shift fitness program.
Address Concerns About Fatigue While On-Duty
Some firefighters worry that on-shift fitness programs will hinder their performance if there’s a call. After all, exercise can leave anyone a bit fatigued. Wouldn’t that harm fireground performance?
While fatigue can certainly be an issue, research suggests that not being meeting firefighter fitness standards is a bigger problem. According to one study, even after working out, the fatigued physically trained firefighters outshined their non-fatigued, untrained counterparts on the fireground.
Ultimately, this showcases how firefighter fitness is one of the most important aspects of having a great performance on the fireground. While avoiding max performance workouts while on-duty could undoubtedly be wise, and it’s best to schedule your shift fitness program during non-peak call volume times, it’s better to dedicate yourself to fitness than not.
Discuss Fears About Being Outperformed
Another fairly common worry among firefighters about participating in a shift fitness program is that their performance will be compared to the rest of the crew. This issue can impact crew members of all fitness levels, not just those who are new to firefighter fitness or haven’t spent much time working out.
Ideally, you should take time to assure every crew member that competing isn’t at the core of the workout regimen. Instead, the goal is to enhance the capabilities of the entire team.
If you begin a firefighter shift fitness program, make sure that discussions about performance remain positive. Discourage competitiveness if it may be harmful, and spend time showcasing achievements instead.
For many, being celebrated for new personal milestones is far more motivating than being shamed for not doing as well as a crewmate. So, embrace the accomplishment-oriented mindset, and make sure everyone else does the same.
Focus on the Benefits of a Shift Fitness Program
Shift fitness programs provide crews with a slew of benefits. By embracing firefighter workouts on-shift, everyone has an opportunity to improve their physical capabilities. Not only does this lead to performance gains on the fireground, but also improvements to overall health.
When health improves, teams are able to work harder for longer, and the needed time to recover after exertion shortens. Plus, illness and injury rates may decline, benefitting everyone both personally and professionally.
Finally, a firefighter shift fitness program can build comradery. It’s a shared journey, one that comes with unique challenges and opportunities to lift each other up mentally. As a result, when implemented properly, a shift fitness program can create stronger bonds, allowing you to work better together as a crew.
How to Design a Firefighter Shift Fitness Program
Once you have your crew on board, it’s time to design a shift fitness program that can meet the needs of everyone. Luckily, since putting in max effort isn’t a goal for on-duty workouts, this can actually be fairly simple.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips that can make designing your shift fitness program easier.
Go (Mainly) Equipment Free
Getting enough exercise equipment for an entire crew is cumbersome and costly. Thankfully, going that route isn’t necessary.
By focusing on calisthenics (bodyweight exercises), you can make most equipment completely unnecessary. Not only is this a cost-effective approach, but it also makes transitioning from one move to the next easier.
Invest in the Right Equipment
If you have the budget for some equipment, you want to make sure you invest it in the best way possible. dumbbells are a great example, as they are ridiculously versatile. Weighted jump ropes may also be a great addition, as they are low-cost, easy to store, and great for boosting cardio while also building some strength.
Use a Circuit Workout
When it comes to building endurance, circuit training is a great approach. It’s an extremely flexible option, allowing you to incorporate a variety of movements into a small time window. That makes the workout effective and time-efficient, something that’s ideal for firefighter shift fitness program workouts.
Plus, not only can you tap into numerous muscle groups, but you can also keep a solid pace. Together, that boosts overall muscular endurance, something that’s very beneficial to firefighters.
Choose Movements That Align with Firefighting
By choosing exercises that mimic activities that occur on the fireground, you can improve the functional fitness of the entire crew. They’ll be better equipped to handle challenges that come up in the line of duty, ensuring they have the strength and endurance necessary to succeed.
For example, if you have access to medicine balls, medicine ball slams may help with swinging axes. Squats can make lifting heavy objects on the ground easier, and mountain climbers can assist with ladder climbing.
Couple those with classics like planks, flutter kicks, and burpees, and you’re on your way to a well-rounded workout.
Build the Habit by Starting Small
Since implementing a firefighter shift fitness program means essentially building a new crew-wide habit, consider starting small. Even if your first workouts are brief, they make fitness part of the on-shift experience.
In time, you can always build up as the overall capabilities of your crew grow. That way, no one ends up overwhelmed in the beginning, but you’ll pave a path that ensures everyone is ready for the challenges of the job.