By Rob Shaul
I’ve been working primarily with military athletes for almost a decade now. During those years isolated law enforcement officers and departments found us, started asking questions and providing feedback and jumped in to start doing our stuff.
Unlike the military, there is no established tradition for fitness in the law enforcement world. Once officers get through the academy, fitness is often forgotten or downright avoided.
In the military, frequent, performance-influencing fitness tests and ongoing special selections and schools drive much of the attention to fitness. As well, commands give their guys dedicated time for PT in the mornings.
Things are different in the law enforcement world. Public unions have fought performance-influencing fitness tests, and many agencies and departments not only don’t set aside work time for physical training but don’t offer any facilities or equipment at all.
Still, law enforcement athletes use their bodies to make a living. And being fit can keep them alive.
I realized early on the fitness demands and challenges for LE guys are different than soldiers. And eventually, I started getting so many requests for law enforcement officer programming that I build the Patrol Officer Training Plan and sold it through our military site.
This plan attracted more and more LE officers with requests for more event-specific training plans (FBI HRT, DEA PTT) and a full site focused on fitness for law enforcement athletes.
In December 2014, we spent one month in El Paso, coaching soldiers at Fort Bliss in the morning, and coaching Border Patrol and DEA agents in the evening.
I was curious – how fit would these LE guys be? Would they respond to our programming? They were fit, and they responded.
We learned lots, and upon return, I set out to start programming specifically for Law Enforcement Officers, which led me to start LEathlete.com in January 2015. The site started small, training plans were limited, but soon evolved and grew into a part of MTI. Programming for law enforcement officers has spurred my creativity. It was exciting to move into this new area.
We knew we weren’t going to change police union opposition to fitness tests anytime soon.
Nor would we overnight convince busy law enforcement department and agency CO’s to set aside training time and facilities for their officers.
Indeed, as a concrete signal of where the field is at in training, we invited every officer from local law enforcement agency we could think of – sheriff’s deputies, town police officers, national park rangers, Forest Service enforcement, Homeland Security officers at the airport – to train for free in our Jackson facility as Lab Rats. None – not a single officer, took advantage of the opportunity.
We did, however, link up with a small city department in California, and a committed handful of its officers and detectives are helping us lab rat the programming.
I believe strongly that Law Enforcement Officers are professional athletes. And the first requirement of a professional athlete is to take responsibility for his or her fitness.
And back then I knew this was gonna be – one officer at a time. We’re plenty happy with that.
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