The Importance of “Functional” Fitness (ft. Coach Micah)September 12, 2016
My Functional Fitness Motivation.
We’ve all heard and been talked to about the concept that CrossFit is made up of constantly varied, high intensity functional movements. That, by definition is exactly what the fireground (what we in the fire service call working fire incidents) is made up of. I’ve been a firefighter for nearly twenty years now, while I’ve always considered myself to be in pretty decent shape in my early years, I found that as i got older, my ability to recover and perform on the fireground with efficiency was decreasing. As fire scenes got more lengthy and manpower became less over the years, we worked harder and longer to finish the multitude of tasks that were required to be done before we could call the incident managed or under control and ultimately terminate the incident. The years of crawling through dark smoky hallways and in temperatures nearing the 1000 degree mark, climbing ladders, dragging hose lines and operating heavy equipment while wearing protective gear that increases my body weight nearly an extra 100 pounds has taken a toll on me. With a list of injuries in my early years that kept me away from the job i love and from doing things with my family and friends I found that just punching the clock in on shift wasn’t doing myself, my fellow firefighters or the public that I took an oath to protect any favors.
Fast forward nearly a decade and a half and I’ve finally begun making good on that oath that I took nearly right out of high school. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life in public service to my community and feel that i’m just now reaching the level of physical fitness that I should have been doing from the start. Firefighters should hold themselves and each other accountable for the oath that we’ve taken to protect lives and save property. That not only should include continuous training on the varying fire and emergency medical services we provide, but also that of physical fitness and nutrition. Neglecting the fitness aspect of our jobs and not being fireground functionally fit increases our risk of not only being able to perform our duties, but more severely adds to our risk of line of duty injuries and worse, DEATH!
The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) reported that in 2015 the number of on duty deaths of firefighters both career and volunteer were at 68. While given that there are thousands upon thousands of firefighters in this country alone, it seems like a small percentage of deaths in the fire service. While each firefighter death affects me, as I consider them all my brothers and sisters, line of duty death risk is inherently part of the risk we accept when becoming a firefighter. Not all risk can be avoided, it can be managed to an extent. Of those 68 line of duty deaths, 59% of them were related to overexertion/stress/medical. Those are all causes of death that we can reduce not only as firefighters, but as athletes in our professional and personal lives. By maintaining a level of fitness and health, we increase our chances of long term survival and reduce our risk of death and disease all the while making life more fun to be in.
So, whether its functional fitness for the fireground, the office or wherever it demands take control of your health and wellness. The next time you’re in the box sweating it out with everyone, take some time to really think about how all those pull ups, deadlifts, presses and burpees make you more functionally fit and for the reasons that you walked through our doors to begin with. Thanks for taking the time to read this rambling and stay safe and remain functional!