There's an aura of glamour and mystery surrounding America's bravest. People waive and sometimes stare at a passing fire truck, wondering what it must be like. With our big red rigs, whaling sirens, and oversized protective gear, we're literally larger than life.
To illustrate what I mean, here's an excerpt from The Firefighter's Workout Book (HarperCollins 2000).
What's So Great About Being a Firefighter
They look at us with beaming cherub faces, like we're larger than life. To them, we're Batman and Superman all rolled into one, but in reality we're just normal guys ready willing and able to go that extra mile when the situations calls for it.
That day we squeezed our fire truck into an oversized parking space on a bustling avenue while going about our routine duties. Inevitably, a young mother, wheeling one baby and carrying the other, busy with her daily chores, was stopped dead in her track by her little boy, his gazed transfixed on the big red fire truck.
We always had time for children -some shy, some a little afraid, others with a thousand questions, but all barely taller than the front wheel of the fire truck. When I walked over to him, and he gave me that wide-eyed look, I realized why I became a fireman in the first place. I knelt down to his level and asked softly, "Hey little guy, wanna ride on the fire truck?" Mom answered for him, "Of course he does, he absolutely loves firemen."
If you can get through life and manage to get the love of the children, you've accomplished something. I thought to myself, "That's why I love being one."
Most people think of firefighters as not just heroic, but super-fit and ready for anything. But fighting fires can be a gruesome, dirty job that involves a tremendous amount of danger, as well as overwhelming physical exertion. And just passing an entrance exam is not enough. Once hired, a firefighter is expected to maintain a high degree of physical fitness throughout his or her career. When faced with life and death situations on a regular basis, getting fat or out of shape is simply not an option.
But remember, we're not talking about overpaid professional athletes or sponsored amateurs headed for Olympic greatness. Rather, these are men and women who depend on a civil service paycheck to make it from week to week. More often than not, they cope with a tight budget and an even tighter schedule that doesn't leave a whole lot of time for an exercise or weight loss program.
So how does the average firefighter, who NEEDS to stay in top shape, handle this problem?
With simplicity and customization. Cut out what's unnecessary and find ways to mold (versus squeeze) exercise into an existing condition. You'll be amazed at how much time is wasted doing the wrong thing and getting no results.
That's what the Firefighter's Workout is all about. It can be completely customized to become a very personal, B.S.-free, fat-burning, muscle-building program. I've also developed an associated comprehensive, 15-point fitness profile that allows me to take the workout a step further. With your completed profile, I'm able to put together a workout system that's built around an individual's current goals, equipment, schedule, history, exercise preferences, or any other particular focus.
I urge you to take advantage of this unique program.
FDNY captain, Michael Stefano is the author of the Firefighter's Workout Book. Captain Mike also creates custom workouts for both firefighters and civilians alike. To learn more, visit his website at: www.firefightersworkout.com