During my Excellence in Training presentations and courses I am often asked my thoughts on using exercise as a form of punishment for inappropriate behavior of officers during training. My answer is always the same. I am strongly opposed to it. Here are a couple of my reasons why:
- We want officers to be fit and to make a lifetime commitment to fitness then we turn around and use fitness as a punishment when we percieve they have done something wrong, or to simply teach people a lesson. We then wonder why officers hate going to PT or working out on their own. The exercises most often used as punishment are pushups and wind sprints or some other form of running. Pushups are a great exercise with almost an endless number of variations. They can be done with very little space and at no cost. So why would we want to turn people against them. Running is another exercise that is easily done for either aerobic or anaerobic benefit at little cost other than a good set of runners. Once again why would we want to turn people against this exercise.
- People have argued that there has to be consequences. If they are not punished how will they learn. (The theory being that being punished somehow improves learning.) My questions is whether the punishment changes long term behaviors or if the person learns to adapt in the specific training environment to avoid the punishment.
I understand that on the street there are consequences to certain less desirable tactics fine. OK, so let the consequences take place as a natural part of the training. I will address this in greater detail in a future post. For now I would like all trainers to reconsider the use of exercise as a form of punishment. Just because the gym teacher did it in junior high school, just because high school football coach did it, or just because that is the way it was done when you went through training does not make it a good thing.