Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a police officer. I was a kid hooked on Columbo, Mod Squad and The Rookies. For my 12th birthday I got a finger print kit. It wasn’t long before the house was covered in black and white powder as I tried to solve the crimes occurring within the family. A detour in high school put those dreams to rest.
Several weeks ago I had the incredible opportunity to teach a basic Kettlebell workshop to the Tallahassee Police Department’s Tactical Apprehension and Control Team. This will go down in my history as one of the coolest things I’ve ever done as a Kettlebell instructor.
I met Sgt. James Fairfield several months ago when he came out to my gym to build a 12 foot climbing wall for my adventure race training workouts.
I was impressed with his mad carpentry skills and he was pretty much blown away by my gym and equipment. James and his team began using my gym for their very unique type of training.
The TAC team as well as other first responders have training needs that are not met with traditional gym workouts. Doing 3 sets of 12 rep bicep curls at several different angles are not going to help or make much of a difference when lives are at stake. As a matter of fact, no machine at the gym will properly train an officer for the very unique situations that occur on the job and out in the field.
I invited James and his team to come out to the gym for a very basic Kettlebell workshop taught by myself and my brother, Mike.
So on January 5th the TPD TAC team rolled in with their Mobile Command Post, Public Relations Officer and two uniformed officers. Reporters with the TallahasseeDemocrat and WCTV showed up shortly after.
Also in attendance was David Ross, catcher for the Atlanta Braves baseball team.
We began our workout with some basic movement prep so that Mike and I could get an idea of what types of injuries or dysfunctional movement patterns we might be dealing with. The Face the Wall Squat is a great way not only to begin opening up the chest, prestretching the glutes and warming up the legs but it is also a great assessment for me to check the thoracic spine and ankle mobility. Right away I was able to see who had ankle and t-spine issues.
Many trainers don’t realize how important ankle mobility is in squatting. If someone has tight ankles, they will not be able to squat properly. People hate me for it, but function and form come first in my classes and in my training.
We continued our warm up/prep work with Pumps and kneeling hip flexor stretches. I like to do my Pumps a little bit differently so that again, I can assess the ankles while working on gaining more movement.
Next up was Face Away From the Wall Deadlifts. This is is where we begin focusing on loading the glutes and moving from the hips. The drills from Kettlebells from the Center are perfect for this step. Again, I use this as a learning tool, movement prep and to assess what needs to be addressed before we begin touching the Kettlebells.
From there we went to deadlifting a light bell. We used the 16k, probably to the surprise of both team members and those looking on. After close to an hour the DL were looking good enough to try out some swings. This is where things can get ugly and they did.
Many of the guys as well as many of my clients have never moved from the hips. Spending time on the DL allows them to groove that movement pattern. Swings are taking that perfected pattern and adding explosive power.
For many people putting it all together is tough. As long as the movement is slow like a DL, everything is good, once power is added, compensations and prior movement patterns take over and then you have a mess on your hands.
This is when it’s important as a trainer to educate your client on progression. Some of the guys had to go back to Deadlifting while others worked on the Swing.
We taught Goblet Squats and then finished the class by touching on the Turkish Get Up.
Turkish Get Ups done correctly are one of the best exercises I know for strength, mobility and stability. Everyone should be doing TGUs but especially first responders. David Ross, the catcher for the Atlanta Braves said that he really liked the TGUs and could see how they would be a great addition to his training.
The officers say this type of nontraditional training comes in handy because their standard gear set can weigh between 65 and 97 pounds.
Sgt. James Fairfield said it himself when a reporter asked him why they were doing the class.”We need something a little bit more dynamic. So, what this type of training affords us is physical stress in a positive way that is more similar to the kind of unusual circumstances we’re face while we’re loaded in heavy gear, operating in uneven terrain, and in close quarters environment.”
The TAC team is used to performing in extreme conditions and circumstances. Their training program and conditioning is intense. Adding Kettlebells and a few simple exercises to their arsenal compliments their current training program while giving them an intense conditioning workout coupled with functional movement without adding extra impact and pounding on their joints. For the officers, this is a match made in heaven, for bad guys, this is a match made in HELL.