In his book Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance Christopher McDougal, “…begins with a story of remarkable athletic prowess: On the treacherous mountains of Crete, a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters…… and discovers ancient techniques for endurance, sustenance, and natural movement that have been preserved in unique communities around the world.”
One of the people McDougall discovered in his research was George Hébert and his Méthode Naturelle—the Natural Method. The credo for The Natural Method is “Etre fort pour etre utile. – Be fit to be useful.”
“Be fit to be useful.” should be the credo for law enforcement fitness, starting at the Academy and continuing throughout people’s careers. In some academies fitness is used as punishment for non-compliance of rules or any other infraction as determined by the instructors. (I am strongly against using fitness as punishment.) In other academies it is used as a tool to “weed out” people who “don’t have what it takes”, whatever that means.
Fitness serves a purpose. The purpose is to “Be Useful.” Be useful to your brother and sister officers when they need your help. Be useful to yourself in the middle of a fight or struggle. Be useful to the public you serve and protect. Be useful to your family. Be useful throughout your entire career and your retirement. If you strive to be fit to be useful, you will also be able to enjoy the additional overall physical and mental benefits of fitness.
One of my heroes is Lane Douglas-Hunt from the Victoria Police Service. She is one of the fittest officers you will ever meet. When I interviewed her a while ago to talk about a violent encounter she had been involved in a few years earlier I asked her why she continued to maintain the high level of fitness that she did. She told me that she owed it to her brother and sister officers. If they ever needed her assistance she owed it to them to have the physical ability to help them. That is a commitment to being fit to be useful.
Explain to recruits in the Academy why fitness is important. Explain the importance of being fit to be useful. Then teach them how to do that in a way that is sustainable throughout their career and their lives. Teach them how to do that while they are working shift work, when they have limited access to equipment and a gym and while they are raising a family and dealing with the other realities of life. Then continually remind people throughout their careers of the importance of being fit to be useful. If they are not willing to do it for themselves, then have them commit to doing it for their brother and sister officers. Hold each other accountable to be fit to be useful regardless of your assignment.
Be Fit To Be Useful. Make it the credo in your agency and in our profession.
P.S. Here are links to the two parts of the interview Paddy Steinfort did with Lane Douglas-Hunt for The Toughness podcast. They were kind enough to allow me to be part of the interview.:
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership and mindset.
Dare to Be Great Leadership – Providing practical leadership training.