It is easy to tell prospective recruits to make sure they eat healthy and get in shape before they come to the Academy, but what does that mean?
If I do a google search for, “Eating Healthy” I get 4,700,000,000 results in 0.74 seconds. Not much help.
If I simply type in, “How do I get in shape?” into a google search I get 1,640,000,000 results in 0.66 seconds. Not much help.
If I search, “How do I get in shape for a police academy?” I get 41,600,000 results in 0.61 seconds. Not much help.
Since they have never been through your academy, and may not know anyone else who has, they have no idea of the fitness requirements or regime at your academy.
Do you do lots of long runs at your academy? (If you do then why? What is the transference of that training to the field?) Is your fitness training based on Crossfit or some other form of high intensity fitness program? (If so, do you have a solid on ramp program and knowledgeable coaches?)
Is your fitness training program delivered multiple times a week in a progressive, building block format over the course of the entire Academy? Is there transference from the type of fitness training you do to the actual job requirements?
Fitness is subjective. Functional / Practical / Tactical fitness is subjective. Those standards are based on the task or tasks you need to be fit enough to perform. Is strength most important or is power more important? Is speed most important or is endurance more important? Is power more important ant than endurance? How critical is flexibility? Are they all important? Are you performing in controlled environments or in dynamic and unpredictable environments? Are you going to be allowed to perform wearing specially designed, custom fit clothing to enhance performance or required to perform wearing boots and 20 to 30 pounds of extra gear?
Fitness programs in many academies are also subjective and are often based on the biases and preferences of the current cadre of fitness instructors or on how fitness training has been done historically.
“Make sure you are in good shape when you come into the Academy.”, is of very little value to the prospective recruit. You might say that you have a pre-academy fitness test they need to be able to pass. Great. Will training specifically to pass that test guarantee they have the appropriate level of fitness required for your academy, or will it simply help them to pass that test?
What if you provided a video to explain to prospective recruits the type of fitness training you do at the Academy and the “why” behind the type of training you do? What if, in addition to that video, you provided access to a series of instructional videos on types of exercises and sample training programs, which would be helpful in preparing for them for the Academy, and the job they will do once they graduate (provided your fitness training is transferable to the street). The value of videos is that the candidates can access them anytime from anywhere. (Make sure the videos can be played on smartphones and tablets.)
While you are at it how about if you developed a series of videos for your in-service officers to help show them how to work out effectively in 20 minutes a day, with minimal or no equipment and limited space.
You can complain about the fitness level of the people coming into your academy, or you can do something positive about it.
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