Fit as a Fireman

Firefighter fitness: How you can learn from the best

Firefighter fitness: How you can learn from the best

The alarm rang, a fire at a three story apartment building. It was 100 degrees and he was in full gear.

He climbed the ladder a few times and the next thing he knew, a paramedic was checking his vitals.

Austin firefighter Craig Stiles says it was a wake up call. Craig was in great shape, working out at least three hours per shift: half cardio, half weights. But this fire — and a few before — had really "kicked his butt.” He couldn’t understand why he tired so quickly and why he couldn’t recover faster.

Craig knew better conditioning would equate to more efficient and better fire fighting. He had to find a whole body workout that worked for him.

He mastered the Navy Seal workout and tackled both the CrossFit and P90X, but still wasn’t satisfied.

He found what he was looking for with Acrotex, a gymnastics gym in Cedar Park where his daughter takes classes. Craig would sit, watch her class on the edge of his chair, wanting to be a part it, jumping and flipping. He hoped and pushed for an adult class.

All that hoping and pushing paid off as Acrotex coach Steven King came up with EMT—Efficient Movement Training.

EMT classes include everyone from high school students to 40 somethings, and has intensity that makes me tired just watching.

 

 

The first 45 minutes of the class concentrates on stretching and warming up. Their stretching looked more like a workout with exercises such as getting into a squat position and moving across the floor with great speed, forcing their legs to jump, hurling them through the air. Coach King defines it as “the most intense obstacle course imaginable.”

Combining a series of sports into one, EMT is an exercise regimine you can accomplish both indoors and out. And if outside, you will see people jumping from building to building and flipping off walls.

Craig, though, says he prefers practicing inside with the gymnastics mats. He doesn’t want to jeopardize his job and get hurt.

Imagine this — the group starts at one end of the mat. They take off running, almost a full sprint and then jump over a four foot obstacle and precisely land several feet away on a small strip of plastic; it’s a move that will take your breath away.

Or just stand flat footed, and jump in the air into a front or back flip and land back on your feet. It is a workout that targets all facets of your body; your core, upper body and legs.

For Craig, EMT has been the answer to his wake up call. He says he never wants to feel like he is holding back a fellow firefighter, and with his new whole body workout, he’s noticed a difference in his ability to fight fires. He’s stronger and recovers quicker.

Craig is passionate about his work—both fighting fires and working out. He’s been at it for 17 years, and his ultimate goal is to add another 13 years of firefighting before he hangs up his gear for good.

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Feeling bold? Acrotex offers EMT classes on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_jump
Austin Firefighter Craig Stiles, warming up on the balance beam Photo by Kathleen Jennings
Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_handstand
Austin Firefighter Craig Stiles, handstand Photo by Kathleen Jennings
Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_jump1
Austin Firefighter Craig Stiles, practice jumping Photo by Kathleen Jennings
Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_flip
Austin Firefighter Craig Stiles, flipping for EMT class Photo by Kathleen Jennings
Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_jump
Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_handstand
Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_jump1
Austin Photo Set: News_Kathleen Jennings_Fire fighters_July 2011_flip