For most of us in public safety we live in a black and white world. Good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. For a few of us the shade of grey is more appealing. In the world of fitness and exercise most people, novice and advanced exercisers (athletes) alike there is generally a correct and incorrect way to exercise. Just as in any other specialty or business there are reams of research that go into doing the right thing from the wrong thing. There are consequences from doing the wrong thing and rewards from doing the right thing just like law enforcement.
In fitness and exercise there are a scant few that understand the right way to exercise from the wrong way to exercise. Much research is done and continues to be done and interpreted on the correct way to exercise, the beast way to fire the muscle or the fastest way to burn fat. But there is a very scary reality at play here. There is so much miss-information and so many accepted ways to do things, the wrong way, that when you see people doing the proper exercises it looks wrong to you.
But you are not at fault. Coaches, Trainers and other people that should know better have swayed you to the dark side. A thought process called gym science prevails. Gym science is not science at all. It simply states that if that fit or pretty person over there is doing that exercise it must work; never mind that the exercise they are performing is dangerous and injurious. To further sway your thought process exercise machine manufactures continue to make new and fancy machines to place in the gym or your home. These machines generally force you to move in a specific pattern. This pattern conversely is horribly damaging to your joints and is mechanically inefficient. Why do we continue to recommend the same exercises that hurt us?
Most people have never realized what seems like a simple fact. Joint injury and lower back pain continue to persist through society. Did anyone ever realize that the combination of poor posture, seated sedentary lifestyles and exercises that actually encourage muscle imbalances actually causes some of these issues? These muscle imbalances coupled with a posturally inefficient lifestyle lead to a tremendous risk for injury. So what do we do, we go the gym and perform exercises that place our body in extremely dangerous positions with incredible strain on the joints and spine. Follow this pattern over the course of your career and you will actually encourage injury to occur.
It shocks me that Personal Trainers continue to recommend dangerous exercises to random people in the gym with absolutely no regard for the consequences of those exercises. There is not a day that goes by that I do not have people in the gym stare at me performing correct exercises. I must look like an alien; what strange exercise am I performing on one leg? Why am I not jerking the weight or using momentum, or swinging? Why do I never use the seated machines but I sure hog the cable machines that allow me to stand and do not control my movements? I control my movements. With that being said there is a time and place for kettle bell training or tactical fitness but even those rapid exercises are done with total control. Right exercise is so right it looks wrong.
Yet for some reason trainers do not keep up with science and research. Only a few certifications require any continuing education and much of it is through that certifying company. If you are a law enforcement trainer or in charge of your departments PT, read. Read anything and everything pertaining to fitness, wellness, biomechanics and kinesiology. It must be research based and unbiased studies and articles from experts in their field. Go to seminars often. As an officer, or a candidate to be an officer, try to find a trainer with current certifications that require con-ed, preferably a four year degree and when in doubt ask for references or a resume. Go online and research that trainer's fitness certification.
As I have stated many times in the past law enforcement and public safety is a strange and unique animal, there is just no other job like it. Because of the unique characteristics of your career and the out of the box tactics that must be employed daily, it makes no sense to train and exercise in that old box. Step out and try some of the new functional training: never sit down to exercise; rest less and work out smarter. As always, beware of the fancy elite fitness and mass marketed programs that promise fantastic results but sadly often lead to failure, burnout or even worse injury.
I challenge everyone to open up to new exercises. We open ourselves to new technology daily. Technology has allowed us to better understand the body and what exercises are safe and effective vs. what we did in the past with no real reason why. But hey, that big guy did it so it must work!