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How CrossFit Helps First Responders Improve Their Physical Health

By Matthew Loux, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice at American Military University

Working out has always been a passion of mine, even before I began my career in law enforcement. Staying in shape helps strengthen my physical abilities and improves my mental well-being. In fact, anyone in law enforcement, the military or firefighting benefits from regular exercise.

[Related: Tips for LEOs to Improve Their Physical Fitness Levels]

My newest workouts involve CrossFit (a combination of cross-training and fitness), which is a high-intensity fitness program developed in 2000 by Greg Glassman. It incorporates several sports and other types of exercises.

All CrossFit workouts are based on various functional movements. These movements are adapted from gymnastics, running, weightlifting, rowing and other sports. These exercises provide the most advantageous physical benefits.

There are about 14,500 CrossFit affiliates today. The platform has reached more than 18 regions worldwide, including such locations as the United States (home of the 2017 CrossFit Games Champion Mathew Fraser), Australia (home of the 2017 CrossFit Games Champion Tia-Clair Toomey), Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa and many others across the globe.

The Benefits of CrossFit Workouts

CrossFit works to strengthen 10 fitness domains:

  • Cardiovascular and Respiratory
  • Strength
  • Stamina
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Coordination
  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Accuracy

The strengthening and conditioning workouts use your own body weight for resistance to produce more power overall. The benefits include better conditioning and versatility, which improve performance. For example, when an officer does simple tasks such as getting in and out of a squad car, processing crime scenes, working undercover or as part of a SWAT team, well-tuned muscles and joints will improve the officer’s range of motion.

[Related: 5 Reasons First Responders Should Take Yoga Seriously]

Many people reach workout plateaus that are difficult to overcome. CrossFit’s high-intensity workouts are designed to break through the plateaus and boredom of ordinary gym workouts through a program of rigorous exercise.

What Is a CrossFit Workout Like?

CrossFit sessions vary from gym to gym. At my gym, CrossFit Katy, we begin with about 15 minutes of stretching and a warm-up run. We proceed to weightlifting for strengthening and then move on to the high-intensity conditioning workout.

When we have completed the lifting and conditioning portions of the workout, we stretch to make sure that we have not over-stressed our muscles and won’t be sore the following day. Each workout is posted online, so we are able to prepare mentally and physically for the upcoming exercise sessions.

How CrossFit Compliments Police Work

Officers often have sedentary duties, such as sitting in a patrol vehicle or writing detailed reports at a desk. These duties can have a negative effect on an officer’s physical health, but CrossFit workouts can help to counteract any weight gain from their sedentary duties. The high-intensity workouts combine cardio and weightlifting to reduce body fat and remove excess weight.

[Related: Beyond the Scene: Focus on Exercise and Hobbies to Lower Stress]

Police officers often work double shifts and overtime. With family commitments, they have even less time for fitness. The great advantage of CrossFit is that its high-intensity workouts increase the heart rate and burn fat rapidly, which means spending less time at the gym.

The CrossFit community is a support system that helps draw in members. Officers can use their fellow CrossFitters to start making healthy eating choices and improve their overall health. Healthy meal plans will help officers to be more energetic and alert, so they can better focus on the job.

CrossFit Honors Fallen Police and Military Personnel

The CrossFit community traditionally honors fallen police officers and military personnel by naming workouts after them and recounting their stories. For instance, each year on Memorial Day, we remember Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy , 29, of Patchogue, New York.

Murphy was a SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service.

The Murphy workout includes a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and another one-mile run wearing a 20-pound vest. That was one of Michael’s favorite workouts, which he called “Body Armor.”

CrossFit also honors Randy Simmons. Randy was a 27-year Los Angeles Police Department veteran and SWAT team member killed in the line of duty on February 7, 2008.

Many CrossFit Gyms Offer Free Trial Period for Beginners

A lot of CrossFit gyms offer a free trial. Locations can be easily found by going online.

Whether you are a college student ready to enter the law enforcement field, a veteran or anyone else, it is never too late to get moving. CrossFit has increased my endurance, strength, balance and overall well-being.

crossfitAbout the Author: Matthew Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud and criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years. To contact him, email


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