I think I am someone who has always tried to enjoy life and the people around me, and had a thirst for adventure. There is also in me a bit of a drive to continually learn and try to improve myself. I was blessed with good genes and received affirmation related to fitness and athleticism at a young age. I was a competitive gymnast and had supportive parents and a great coach, which early on gave me a foundation of basic strength, kinesthetic awareness and confidence to attempt a lot of different activities. Over the years I have dabbled in baseball, wrestling, volleyball, mountain biking, canoeing / kayaking, triathlon and crossfit. I have always chosen active careers, including various construction jobs, youth work, personal training and now firefighting. I have always been fascinated with how the body works and tend to use myself as a guinea pig trying out workouts and nutrition concepts. I enjoy helping people and I value the depth of relationships that come out of doing active things with others. I recently heard that the biggest issue facing men over fifty is loneliness. Thankfully, that is not a concern for me at all because of the amazing family and friends around me and the activities that we do together.
Firefighting is very physical and I see it as imperative that I stay fit in order to do my work well. There is a tough physical test as one of the main components to even get on the job. I got hired when I was fourty-eight, but to get there I had to outperform a thousand or more other applicants, many of whom were half my age, so right off the top I had to train hard just to advance in the recruitment process. The job itself can be quite demanding, and there are times when a lot is at stake so we have to be up for it. We are always carrying something (or someone), lifting or moving things – our gear alone adds another fifty pounds to our frame. In the down times, there is an expectation that we are working out to maintain and improve our fitness because it is such a key part of our job. I also have a role within the department as one of their Peer Fitness Trainers, so that helps keep me on my toes as well.
Currently my main activity is in the weight room. This summer, however, I will be joining a group of experienced cyclists for a mountain bike trip riding the Canadian portion of the Great Divide, so I am now putting in a lot more time on the bike. Having some kind of a goal like that is usually what helps me keep fit. A decade or so ago I would sign up for triathlons and compete against my previous times to keep me motivated to train. Trying to get on with the fire department was a huge goal that kept me highly focused, and now the desire to be an exceptional firefighter keeps me going to the gym. My family plays a big role too – they are very supportive and active as well. My kids and I had a great time attending The Great Canadian Fitfest together recently. They are all great athletes and continually inspire me. My wife was into quality foods and alternative health long before it was cool and I believe her influence on what we eat and how we take care of our bodies plays a huge role in all of us staying fit.
When I was twenty-five I could just jump into anything and do okay…. not so much any more. The body hurts more, my knees make funny noises and conditioning feels a lot more specific. Last weekend I did a 160 km training ride with the guys I am going biking with this summer and basically got my butt handed to me. I tend to forget that I am not twenty-five until I do something like that. So at fifty-three I have to work harder at conditioning for the things I want to do, I need to warm up properly and spend more time in general on mobility and fitness. It is true more now than ever at this stage that if you stop moving, you stop moving. Maybe I should take up yoga…