"I am getting to old for this stuff."
"As part of the fire service, you might have heard theses words uttered a few times and its usually after a tough and grueling fire. Those words are usually said as protective gear is getting stripped off, and physical exhaustion is setting in. As a 13-year veteran of my department, I have heard those words many times. They are usually said by the older firefighters, but surprisingly enough I have heard then from a lot of the younger firefighters as well. These are people who are not physically preparing themselves properly, or at all for that matter, for the rigors of firefighting.
Let's face it, firefighting is tough enough as it is. You are wearing and carrying over 75 pounds of gear and equipment, which you have to carry as you climb stairs and nothing ever seems to happen on the ground floor. You are also hauling and handling charged hoselines, and throwing extension ladders of various sizes and weights.
Then comes overhaul. The overhaul phase requires a lot of overhead work with tools of various sizes and weights and is no easy task. Ask anyone who has done it, and all this is done in some of the most horrendous of conditions: high heat, limited or no visibility and the compromises made to the structure from fire damage. Not to mention the "adrenaline monster" that goes along with the thrill of it all. Do you want to go into that kind of environment physically unprepared? No wonder why heart attacks are the number one killer of firefighters and the number one injury is sprains and strains of the lower back, with the shoulder following close behind.
Well I'm here to attest to you, fellow brothers and sisters of the fire service, that the answer to these problems facing you is a lot simpler than you think. It's nothing new and, in fact, it's "old school". It's nothing fancy, and to say it comes with no fluff would be an understatement. If you are not familiar with or heard of Russian Kettlebells and Pavel Tsatouline, the time is now.
If you, like just about every other department out there, are strapped for available space, cash, and time, your answer is here. The Russian Kettlebell is the perfect solution. If you have room in your firehouse to lay down a standard piece of plywood (4-foot by 8-foot), then you have a decent space to work out in. The space has to be clear of clutter and have overhead clearance, but you don't need hundreds of square feet.
As for price, the money you will spend on, say three kettlebells of various sizes, will be a mere fraction of what any of the new "infomercial" driven exercise gadgets that are out there, making their promises as empty as your pockets.
The kettlebell is known as the "complete gym in your hand" and is anything but typical. Most every exercise you perform with a kettlebell uses total body strength to complete, thus cutting down on long, drawn out body part isolation training found in a typical gym workout. Kettlebells stress muscle integration and not muscle isolation, so your body gets stronger as a unit, instead of separate "mirror muscles", the idea is to get all your horses pulling as a team. Make no mistake though, this is tough stuff, but hey it's a tough job.
If cardio fitness is a concern, don't worry, there are ballistic movements, such as the swing and the snatch, that will not only make you stronger from head to toe, but will jack your cardio through the roof. Hit these exercises for a while and see for yourself, how much more time you will get out of an SCBA bottle.
Looking to make your back more injury resistant? Again, it's kettlebells to the rescue. Through proper technique and movements, which are explained in detail in Pavels books and videos, you will strengthen your back with every repetition of every exercise. If you are looking to gain flexibility with your strength, there is the windmill, an exercise that your back is yearning for. Get on board with this, and don't become a back injury "statistic".