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April 25, 2005
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24Seven Cop2Cop: News By, For & About Law Enforcement In the West
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Maintaining the fitness bug

By Michael Macro

Many of us are not naturally sports or fitness orientated but when we apply for a position with in a para-military or military organization we attempt to rectify this. We may draw on experiences from our childhood or we may join a gym to develop an exercise regime. If we are fortunate to be accepted into these organizations we are exposed to a fitness curriculum of one sort of another. All are viable but many do not give the participants the incentive to continue post graduation.

The challenge is maintaining the fitness bug post graduation. Once a trainee has become a full time peace officer, finding the time to fit in some degree of physical maintenance can also be difficult. On average most people have a clear aversion to take part in physical exercise. The reason for this could be hypothesized as follows. Many institutions use exercise as a means of discipline, such as the military, para military training academy’s, schools and in sports camps. How often have you heard the instructor shout, “ You messed up you donkey dropping, get down and give me 20 push ups” (ok, I may have changed the actual comment, but I did so to protect those of a fragile nature). Fortunately there are only a small percentage of people who wish to train this way. Unfortunately they make up a majority of the instructors.

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Negative reinforcement of physical conditioning is hardly pro-active and at best an ill planed use of resources, it need not be this way. By appealing to the Officers/Trainee Officer’s concept of personal responsibility, responsibility to their co-workers and the necessity of exercise rather than choosing a sedentary lifestyle (offering literature on the subject would be a good idea), we can install the desired qualities for example:

1. The benefits of a training regime.
2. The required level of fitness to perform the required tasks in the field
3. The responsibility for personal safety and that of your co-worker is paramount.
4. Lowering the amount of work related injuries.
5. Fitness training can be used to relieve stress by using non-competitive exercises.


The first four are self explanatory, however I feel that number five would be better explained; Fitness training can be used to relive stress by using non-competitive exercises. Fitness training rids the body of the chemicals, which are produced during a fight or flight reaction caused by any stressful incident (consider the first time you were confronted by a situation, can you remember the feeling? Heart rate elevated, nausea, etc. After a number of times the physiological changes you go through become commonplace, and seem normal. Getting used to these feelings doesn’t mean they have gone away). At the time of the incident the hormones play an important part in our physiology and not only turbo boost physical reactions but boost our immune system as well. Unfortunately if these hormones are not utilized at once they are stored up and have an adverse effect on our physiology. The result of this build up is partly responsible for stress related illnesses.

Fitness training does not have to be a drawn out routine, and training smarter rather than harder makes more sense. On going research by the American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that an efficient way of monitoring our training effort is to use an equation Vo2Max (maximum volume of oxygen consumed efficiently). This basically means: the ability of the human physiology to effectively consume oxygen in a higher state of physical demand before hyperventilation. This also roughly corresponds with the beats per minute of our heart. Without going into all of the technical jargon it basically means that we train at a point sub-maximal of our anaerobic threshold (when our body demands more oxygen than it can process and we hyperventilate). Each person is unique and therefore using absolutes in training can be dangerous and falling back on basic principles makes more sense. When a person starts to exercise and they use the principle of remaining breathless but still able to hold a conversation, they will be working at a sub-maximal level. If they were then to use the principle of overloading and add small sprints or anaerobic exercises the person exercising will be periodically dipping into their anaerobic threshold in a safe manner.

I tend to amalgamate my aerobic training with my anaerobic training for this very reason. This way my body is dealing with sporadic demands and allows me to adapt quicker.

By not using physical exercises as a form of discipline and maintaining a healthy attitude towards physical conditioning in basic training and throughout continuous training we can reinforce a positive training mentality. We will not only keep fit but also relieve stress build up and probable related diseases. Fitness training should be fun, functional and part of our weekly routine as preventative maintenance. There is no need to feel pain, although be honest with your self and strive to maintain that feeling of a sub-maximal exertion.

Michael Macro is a fitness professional certified from the UK (NVQ fitness trainer/Aqua fitness) and in BC (bcrpa; personal trainer, group fitness leader and weight trainer) and has 17 years of experience in fitness training. He is also a martial arts instructor in Jan Fan Jeet Kune Do, Filipino martial arts, and Indonesian martial arts. He represents Sifu Lee Gagnon (Jan Fan Jeet kune Do, Escrima and Indonesian Penkjat Silat, UK). Guru Carlito Bonjoc (Mata Sa bagyo Serrada, Stockton, Cal.), Guro Roger Agbulos (De-campo escriama, LA, Cal.). He is a Peace Officer for the provincial courts of BC and has also served as a member of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy (1986 to 1991). For additional information please contact Mike at http://www.eclecticdefensegroup.com or by cell 604 562 6562

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