Fit For Duty

By Lou Earle – July 1, 2014
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

My wife and I enjoy watching some of the “CSI” shows on TV and there is one in particular that always seems to include a scene involving a young suspect who’s attempting to escape from the good guys. Following the inevitable warning of “Stop; CSI” or something like that, the stars look at each other and follow with, “Why do they always run?”  They seldom get away, but there is always a rather robust chase up and down fire escapes, over cars, and through alleys with our heroes inevitably outpacing the bad guys and tackling them to the ground.

I am always impressed by the characters’ quickness and endurance and often wonder if the real world works this way. While I cannot imagine that the criminal element seriously considers fitness a prerequisite to success, it does seem, at least anecdotally, that those being pursued are often younger than their pursuers. For those who protect and serve, fitness is a serious business. Our police, fire, and emergency folks are intimately aware of their own fitness and its impact on their performance—as well as on the lives of those they are sworn to serve.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the relationship between fitness, performance, and risk in the lives of firefighters, police or EMTs. Every one of these jobs requires significant physical capabilities, such as running, climbing, lifting, and pushing, and increased endurance and flexibility. The sudden need for a powerful response to stressful mental and physical situation would be a challenge for the most fit, and these first responders face this daily. Add that the minutes required to respond often make the difference between life and death and you have a torturous test matched only on the battlefield.

Skill and efficacy, by their very nature, are augmented through experience and that often comes with age. Maintaining fitness requires a real commitment and focus over the years for those who serve. Don’t forget that, at the end of 16-hour days, these warriors are only human; they face the same nutritional and lifestyle challenges as the rest of us. In American, where two out of every three people are overweight or obese, their discipline and initiative to stay fit is especially noteworthy.

My hat is off to all our first responders who risk life and limb every day on our behalf. Theirs is often a thankless job, and while I believe living healthy has its own rewards, they deserve special credit for their exceptional commitment to be the best that they can be.

Keep Austin Fit,

Lou Earle, Publisher, CEO


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