What are the first words that come to your mind when someone says the word exercise? No time? Too hard? Boring? Do your muscles ache at the mere thought?
It's time to rethink and refocus, not on the exercises themselves, but on the health benefits they provide to the other parts of your life. If you exercise for good health rather than number of repetitions, you'll be able to live past retirement and play with your grandchildren. What would you like to do for fun off the job? As a healthy individual, you can hike, swim, or ride a bike without becoming winded. You can go on a sightseeing tour and climb the steps involved without trouble. Or you can do something new that you never thought possible.
What about on the job? As a healthy officer, you can chase the bad guy easier. You'll get more respect from the community. You'll sleep better, and have a higher energy level and faster metabolism. But if you won't do it for yourself, do it for your fellow officers, your partner and your team. Their lives depend on you.
OK, I'm convinced, you say. But I just don't have the time to spend hours a day exercising, and every time I do exercise, I hurt all over.
How about 20 minutes, twice a week? Can you do that?
Commander Stroup's Program
Commander Tom Stroup, primary SWAT fitness trainer with 23 years experience and more than 1,000 SWAT missions with the Orange County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office, has developed an exercise program that anyone can do, no matter their fitness level or age.
Don't be fooled by the program's name. While it's called SWAT Workout, it doesn't focus on a number of pushups or how much weight you can bench press, but rather on becoming healthy so you can enjoy all aspects of your life both on the job and in your leisure time with your family and friends.
Commander Stroup is an American Fitness Association of America Certified Personal Trainer, a record holder on the Orange County SWAT obstacle course and four-time world champion and gold medal winner of Toughest Cop Alive at the International SWAT Olympics. He's almost 50 years old, but he looks much younger.
I love being a cop and I want all of my brothers and sisters to live happy, healthy lives, says Stroup. We spend a big part of our lives helping others. Now it's time for you to do something for you. I want you to be in the best shape you ve ever been in. Not just for your job, but for everything else in life.
In interval training, you work out using bursts of high-intensity movement. The interval program Stroup designed will tone your muscles and burn nine times more fat and 25 percent more calories than a conventional aerobics program, as well as improve your overall fitness level. You can lose twice as much weight when combining it with cardio as opposed to doing just a cardio workout. A 20-minute SWAT Workout is equivalent to a 120-minute regular cardio workout. And the effects last longer. While your metabolism will go back to normal after about two to four hours following the steady pace of a cardio workout, the increased metabolic effects of this interval workout will remain for up to 48 hours.
How does it work? Each exercise lasts only one minute. You don't count repetitions. You just do the exercises effective, easy moves that don't involve high impact or martial arts as many times as you can in a minute for each one. Rest when you need to. If it hurts, don't do it. And if you don't feel you can do an exercise, do a different one, or just march in place. By exercising at your own rate, eventually you will get to where you want to be.
Ninety percent of people who start an exercise program quit within the first six weeks because they have false expectations of what they will be able to do. It's not a contest. Take it a little at a time so you won't get frustrated. When you get too tired, you can stop and rest before you start again.
In addition, you can adapt exercises to your physical fitness level. If you can't jump from one side to the other, for instance, start out by just stepping from side to side. Eventually your resting times will shorten and your reps will increase. It's all about working to your level, not someone else's. In the civilian classes Stroup teaches which can have up to 85 people there are men and women of all ages and fitness levels. And they keep coming back.
You repeat the 20-minute workout only about twice a week (five times in two weeks is preferable). On the other days, you do what you want go bike riding, swim, etc. You'll find that what you do for fun will become easier, and you'll get better at it.
The exercises in the workout involve every muscle from earlobes to ankles, says Stroup, including those you might not use in your day-to-day life. The muscles are there for a reason, and the body is designed to move in the ways it does during the exercises.
Many of today's illnesses are caused by a sedentary lifestyle. The cure is movement. That's why 100 jumping jacks can make as much difference for one person as two jumping jacks will for someone who is less fit. It's the movement that counts.
The workout is complete when you are finished with all of the exercises or when you have done as many as you can. There are also options that include speeding up if your heart rate is too low, or slowing down if it's too high.
The exercises also vary in difficulty. Some don t make you as tired as others, so you'll need less rest time between those.
So, what are you going to do? Just sit there? Or are you going to start a program to get healthy? Remember, if you're not healthy physically, you're not healthy mentally. Studies have shown that the people who get the most satisfaction out of their jobs are law enforcement officers, firefighters and teachers because they do something worthwhile. You want to continue with things that bring you satisfaction, don't you?
Poor health limits all parts of your life. Just as people tend to respect those who are tall or attractive looking, they also respect those who are physically fit. If you are healthy, you have more options both on and off the job. And if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.
For more information, visit www.swatworkout.com, or call Commander Tom Stroup at 407/832-6430 if you have questions.
Exercises from the SWAT Workout
Stroup says, This is the workout for everyone, no matter your fitness level. All of the exercises are approved by the American Fitness Association of America. You can perform every exercise at your own pace. It's not a contest. Start and stop whenever you feel like it.
Begin with a two-minute warm-up. You can perform several exercises from the regular workout, but do them at a slower, less-intense rate. Step rather than jump, for example.
Each workout exercise is one minute long. Do not count your reps. Do as many reps as you can in one minute and rest at least one minute, or as long as you need to before starting the next exercise. As your fitness level improves, you will increase your reps (within the one minute) and decrease your rest between exercises. If you can't complete an exercise, march in place.
The interval part of the workout is finished when you have completed the last exercise. (If you're a beginner, only complete as many exercises as you can.) Then spend two minutes cooling down with stretching and deep breathing.
1. Jumping jacks: While standing, simultaneously extend your arms and legs. As your feet land on the ground, your hands should meet over your head. Low impact version: Extend alternating legs to the side without jumping as you move your arms up and down.
2. Lunge: Your shoulders must stay over your hips and your forward knee over your ankle. Drop you rear knee up and down. Keep your body erect; don't lean forward. You can do this exercise with or without a ball.
3. Standard pushup: With toes bent and legs and arms extended, use your upper body strength to raise and lower your head and chest. Important: Never let your shoulders drop below your elbows, which should remain in a 90-degree position. Dropping below hyper-extends your shoulders and can injure them. Also, keep your head parallel to your body. Don't look up because that can pinch your neck and interfere with breathing. (If you are unable to do a standard pushup, you can do a modified pushup (3a). In this exercise, rather than keeping your legs straight, lower your knees to the ground for the duration of the exercise. The rest of the movements remain the same.)
4. Side leaps: Stand with your shoulders over your hips, feet together. Squat slightly and push off to your left and right, jumping from side to side. The deeper the squat, the harder the exercise is. If you use a ball, the farther out you hold it, the harder the exercise.
5. Squat thrust: From a standing position, drop to a pushup plank position, then rise to a standing position.
6. SWAT pushup: From a standing position, drop to a pushup plank position, scissor your legs apart and back together, do a push-up, and rise to a standing position.
7. Boxer: You can do this one with or without a ball. Take a boxer stance with your hands in front, your knees bent and your fists under your chin. Squat slightly and bring your right knee up to your left elbow. Reverse and bring your left knee up to your right elbow. Your hips should never drop below your knees, and your shoulders should remain positioned over your hips. Eyes forward, head up.
8. Mountain climber: Start in the pushup position. Keep your hips parallel to your shoulders, not sticking up in the air. Bring alternating knees forward, either at a walking or running pace.
Commander Stroup's Tips for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle
Work out for health first so that you can enjoy what's important to you.
In addition to the SWAT Workout, allow other days of the week for physical activity that you like.
Don't try to compete, but rather develop fitness habits based on your own fitness level.
If it hurts, don't do it.
Challenge yourself, but don't push it too far.
Stop when you get tired, and start back up when you can.
Don't quit, but think of each day as separate from the rest.
Remember: Fitness level is not measured by pushups in the gym, but by the quality of life outside the gym. That's where it counts.
Jim Weiss is a former Army military policeman, a former State of Florida Investigator and a retired police lieutenant from the Brook Park (Ohio) Police Department.
Mickey Davis is an award-winning, Florida-based writer and author.