Life After the Academy: Remember Why You Workout

You have worked hard and are finally out of the academy. In the best shape of your life and ready to be a hero. Little did you know that you have just hit the peak of your physical conditioning.

The day is finally here. You have worked so hard for the last six months and are finally out of the academy. Prepared, in the best shape of your life, and ready to be a hero. Little did you know that you have just hit the peak of your physical conditioning.

Your graduation ceremony has not only marked the start of your career on the line, but the first day of an uphill battle we’ll call the life of an emergency responder. We all went through it – the preparation to get you to this point that can best be described as a physical “high.” While your career is set and a big check has been marked off of your life’s list, another checkmark will slowly be erased.

This check is what I call your Workout Why. Your Workout Why is the sole reason you put on your sneakers and walk into the gym three times a week. It’s the thing that gets you to set the alarm clock to 6:00am to get an hour workout in before your shift.

It is a slow removal at first, but as the months and years go on, the lifestyle of an emergency responder takes over and we lose the motivation to get better. We maintain for a little while, and then our motivation continues to deteriorate. You will start your career, be bombarded with a million things to learn, get complacent, and get hit with a dose of ERL (emergency responder lifestyle).

While you’ve prepared all throughout the academy to fight a four-alarm fire or chase bad guys all day long, the truth is there will be a lot downtime in-between the craziness. On top of that, your schedule will be erratic, sleep will be minimal, and lifestyle choices will be negative, subsequently affecting your days off. This is all while slowly losing your ever-elusive Workout Why.

This eventually happens to all lifters and gym athletes, not just emergency responders. Reality sets in with everyone. Most people realize that they’re not working out to look good on the beach or to be faster for their football games. You lose that clarity of purpose you had when you first signed up for a gym membership. You become a gym zombie, a creature of routine, going through all of the motions.

firefighters, military, law enforcement, leo workouts, mil workouts, leo, milMost people will eventually stop going to the gym when life gets too crazy. That little voice in your head that says to hit the snooze button will become more and more persuasive. Some will continue going to the gym three times a week doing the same old routine in a zombified fashion. Few will find a deeper purpose for every workout they’re doing. These people will also be able to make clearer decisions the 164 hours per week they spend outside of the gym. They’ll be the ones pushing out the last couple of reps, as the zombie members stop two reps short, and the quitters get two more hours of sleep.

As first responders, that workout “high” I mentioned before was about having a clear goal in mind – the academy and a new profession that counted on you being in shape. If you are part of the few that held onto that goal, then I not only applaud you but also encourage you to motivate your brothers.

My Workout Why Challenge

Have you ever been around a little kid and they always ask you, “But why?” I want you to take the time and think about why working out is important to you. I’m not asking you to question why you’re going to the gym, but I’m asking you to question why you’re really going to the gym.

Here’s an example:

Question: Why did you start working out before the academy?

Answer: To get in shape to be a firefighter. (This was your Workout Why.)

Question: Why do you think it’s important to workout now, ten years later?

Answer: So I can be in good shape.

Question: But why?

Answer: So I can lose the twenty pounds I’ve gained since first starting my career as a firefighter.

Question: But why?

Answer: Because it’s important.

Question: But why?

Answer: So I can keep up with my two kids.

Question: But why?

Answer: Because my father died fifty pounds overweight when I was a teenager and I want to be there for my kids.

THIS is your new Workout Why.

Once you unlock the true Workout Why, you will feel a sense of workout rejuvenation. Every workout you do will have a deeper purpose and you will never take another one for granted. You will experience that same high that you felt when you were just finishing up the academy and continue on with a long career of being a first responder, parent, and workout fanatic.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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