O2X Specialist Updates – End of Year 2021
Updates from On-site
Our science-backed human performance programs are delivered through in-person training, virtual resources, assessments, and analysis. Additionally, O2X has helped numerous agencies fill full-time human performance positions within their organizations, designed to improve the mental, physical, and emotional health of its members.
Check out what some of our On-site Specialists have been up to below, and check out https://o2x.com/programs/ to learn more about this unique O2X service.
Massachusetts National Guard (MANG) Update –
From Devon Smith, On-site Specialist with Massachusetts National Guard:
Over the past year, the OSS team embedded in the Massachusetts National Guard Warrior FIT program has made a great impact on the Soldiers and Airmen of the Nation’s First. January included the curriculum planning for our workshop events over the course of the year. These hands-on workshops would focus on the core methodology of EAT SWEAT THRIVE, as well as training and proficiency for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). With COVID-19 protocols still in effect, physical training had gone primarily virtual with our Warrior FIT virtual training program. Participants followed this program in the O2X Tactical Performance app, and it was supplemented by full training program tutorials hosted online. February afforded our on-site team the opportunity to be guests on the MANG 102nd Intelligence Wing’s podcast to raise awareness of the resources available, as well as inform service members of our planned initiatives.
Completing the first quarter of the year, the on-site team distributed guidebooks created specifically for MANG service members to assist them during COVID-19 response missions. Many of these Soldiers and Airmen were living in hotels for extended durations, which made quality training and nutrition difficult to achieve. The workbook provided information on bodyweight training programs, conditioning using hotel stairs and parking lots, sleep and fatigue management, as well as nutrition on the go. During March we also had the privilege of providing training and education on building resilience to the 68W combat medics during their professional development course. We provided education on nutrition and principles of human performance to MA Army National Guard Officer Candidates. The initial workshop in March presented Soldiers with an opportunity to become more familiar with ACFT events and educated them on the basics of nutrition and the science of sleep. Service members were provided an opportunity to practice the test events openly and with guidance from strength and conditioning professionals on how to properly execute and prepare for the movements. In April we started our workshop series with MANG Airmen, which followed a very similar EAT SWEAT THRIVE curriculum.
Over the course of the summer, the first workshop cohort of soldiers completed a follow up ACFT diagnostic to demonstrate the improvements they have made in their personal physical readiness, while the second cohort underwent their baseline ACFT assessment. The Warrior FIT and O2X team reassessed Soldiers from the previous years’ workshops during June. The Soldiers’ body composition, injury risk, and overall wellness was assessed using the O2X Readiness Assessment. Upon completion of the assessment, attendees were provided a detailed report with their results and individualized recommendations. In July we saw improved event scores and confidence across the board from the second cohort of Soldiers on the ACFT. This is a testament to their hard work and dedication to optimizing their performance. Towards the end of the summer, we increased drop-in PT sessions to multiple locations offering several time slots. These drop-in sessions provided steady training opportunities for individuals and were scaled to accommodate the physical fitness of those attending. During August we were invited to host morning PT at the TIME (Technical Sergeants Involved and Mentoring Enlisted Airmen) Conference in Southbridge, MA. These morning sessions were attended by 40-60 Airmen looking to start the day strong. We had an O2X resilience specialist speak during the conference, as well. O2X and the Warrior FIT team were awarded a certification of appreciation for our dedicated involvement in the event.
Closing out the fiscal year in September, the on-site performance team at the MA National Guard has added three team members to have an even greater impact in the coming year. This month we have been integrating the new on-site specialists into the program while planning training and education events for the coming year. Our new additions to the team include a full-time registered dietician, physical therapist, and exercise scientist. This expanded performance team has allowed us to begin impacting the force on an even greater scale. The month of November has seen a strong start to the winter season for the MANG OSS team. We have run physical training sessions at drill weekends for Units at Joint Base Cape Cod, in addition to the training groups and the drop in PT sessions that occur weekly across several locations. MANG service members received access to the updated virtual services which expands our capability to communicate with and deliver customized programming to the total force. During November we closed out the previous fiscal year by briefing MANG leadership on the successes of the program.
This past year the partnership between O2X and the Warrior FIT program of the MA National Guard has delivered training and education to thousands of Soldiers and Airmen across the commonwealth. We are geared up and looking forward to another great year of human optimization.
Frederick County Update –
From Kayla Schmit, On-site Specialist with Frederick Co. Fire Department:
2021 was a busy year for Frederick County Fire and Rescue. Recruit Class 29 began January 4, 2021. Within the academy setting, the recruits went through a very intense training program that included not only physical training, but also educational sessions on O2X EAT and THRIVE pillars. In January, along with performing a baseline PT test and training, we examined nutrition and how to best fuel for performance during the 28-week long academy.
As we moved into February FCFR, career members had access to daily workouts designed specifically for them, using equipment they have access to at the firehouses. As we continued using a virtual format for the firehouses for the time being, I worked on building a fully functioning gym at FCFR HQ. Once this was completed, members were able to come train with me personally at HQ. As we continued to grow our Human Performance program here at PSTF, the attendance count continued to grow rapidly. The field members were eager to participate in the workouts and looked forward to what the future held.
Additionally, Recruit Class 29 started into Phase 2 of their academy training. They showed great improvements in both movement mechanics and work capacity, and continued to build a strong foundation in preparation for their future careers. We started implementing more variations in how to train under load and how to effectively handle awkward, heavy objects while maintaining a stable base.
Moving into April, we were busy facilitating department-wide fitness challenges. This was very well received and the number of active members participating tripled. This effectively improved overall morale in the department and brought back a fun and exciting environment after a long year of pandemic stress. Giving the department a fun and enjoyable experience through working out and creating challenges and some friendly competitions was a great change of pace.
Later in the year, Frederick County Fire and Rescue was busy developing a new SCBA Air Consumption drill protocol. From creating the new course to running active career firefighters through to collect data, I stayed busy visiting firehouses collecting data.
In July, Frederick County Fire and Rescue started two more recruit classes on the same day. Recruit class 30 and 31 started July 26th. Each class was filled with 25 new recruits.
Moving into September, in order to pay tribute to those who were impacted on 9/11, those on-site all participated in the 343 Tribute Tower Run. This workout has been a staple in our program every year since. The recruits and members of the department gear up and climbed the five story training tower a total of 22 times to represent the 110 flights. Everyone who participated had the option to go in full gear or just normal training clothes.
October and into November marked Recruit Classes 30 and 31’s halfway mark in their academy training. They all completed their mid-term PFA test which displayed great improvements in their physical fitness. Training continues to progress and challenge the abilities of each individual recruit.
DC Fire & EMS Updates –
From Ryan Glaize and Conner Freeland, On-site Specialists with DC Fire & EMS:
A full year in, and the on-site specialist (OSS) program imbedded into the Washington DC Fire and EMS Department has seen exponential growth and promise for the future. A program that started with one human performance specialist grew into O2X’s first full team of four in 12 months. Group workouts at the Training Academy grew from 2-3 members in a morning to a consistent 12-15 each day. From teaching simple movement patterns to breaking personal records, firefighters of every fitness level saw progress. Casual conversations about nutrition became consultations and live cooking demos at firehouses across the department. Recruit and Cadet physical training was brought back with periodized training programs emphasizing strength, power, and endurance leading to a lower injury rate and more efficient firefighter. Completing the TA’s weight room renovation, delivering functional equipment to all 33 houses, and having over 100 participants in DC Fire’s Fitness Challenge, the year 2021 was full of firsts.
One of those firsts came with coaching DCFD’s Recruit Class 394 through eight weeks of programming. This training program not only included aspects of the O2X PREPARE, SWEAT, and RECOVER methodologies, but aided in the development of team accountability, communication, and leadership skills. The recruit P.T. that had been dissolved in previous years was brought back to life with weightlifting, various forms of conditioning, and drills incorporating PPE and tools. Recruit development was most significantly elevated as strength became a foundational component of morning P.T., but it still needed more. Through trial and error, workout adaptations, and planning our team saw the successful graduation of four classes with an 85% injury free rate or higher. Each class lost an average of 110 lbs, 2-3% body fat, while adding 53 lbs of lean mass.
Equally as rewarding, O2X began overseeing the Cadet Program and implementing Prepare, Sweat, and Recover work to prepare them for the CPAT. This standard test for cadets, aided us keeping them focused on a goal. Obtaining a passing score ensured their continuation in the program, so being proficient quickly at all events was imperative. Through proper training and fundamental programming, the cadets saw an immense increase from a 30% to over 80% first time passing rate. Currently, as we work with Cadet Class – 24, we look forward to potentially breaking that record!
An increasingly popular facet of the O2X program began with the hiring of human performance specialist Ryan Glaize. His background in strength and conditioning with an emphasis on prehabilitation aided in many members returning to operations much faster than expected. The goal was to build these firefighters up stronger than they were before injury. Using strength as preventive medicine, these firefighters completed progressive programs enabled them to continue their work.
By March, The O2X On-site team had doubled its numbers for in person physical training and prehabilitation sessions and saw the first boom in participation for Instructor Boot Camp. This program included similar workouts and drills recruits would also be participating in. This not only allowed them to better understand our methodology but improved their own fitness levels. The boot camp went from a three week program to a three month program when recruit class instructors enjoyed their own progress and asked to continue the 5:00am workouts! These early morning sessions helped spark our first department-wide initiative, the DC Firefighter Fitness Challenge.
The overarching goal was to raise awareness of physical well-being and encourage firefighters to take an active role in creating positive change in their lives. A large win for this specific project was inviting more civilians within the department to compete against the firefighters they work with every day. For eight weeks, participants pushed themselves to exercise weekly, eat more nutritious meals, and build consistent healthy habits. Overall, there were 331 total pounds lost with a 9% average changed in body composition for all participants. Additionally, these members lost 3% body fat on average over the course of the challenge!
While completing many of the weigh ins for this fitness initiative, more and more firefighters complained of the struggle to continue their training while on duty. The lack of equipment was an ever-increasing issue for them losing weight. This is where our idea to deliver equipment to each firehouse was sparked. Equipment bundles including Brute Force sandbags, medicine balls, and resistance bands were delivered with a goal that workouts be done while on duty. These simple, yet effective tools would allow firefighters access to minimalistic, space efficient equipment that could be used anywhere.
Both of these projects were incredibly effective and we received exceptional feedback for both, but we continued to hear about two primary issues that weren’t being resolved. Pain from current and old injuries were consistent across the board when asking firefighters their biggest concern with exercise. The second was lack of education on nutrition. Our response included the hiring of two new members to the O2X team. Tiffany Batsakis, a registered dietitian with invaluable knowledge and experience, and certified athletic trainer Steve Taylor formerly with the Minnesota Twins, would meet these concerns head on.
Since their arrival in October, Tiffany has completed more than 30 cooking demos, 70 individual consultations, and 10 classes on proper nutrition. While Steve, doing his part to enhance the health of firefighters and manage pain, has completed 125 manual therapy sessions. Both have been a huge hit with the department and easily one of the best moves by DC Fire and EMS!
With a full year’s experience, our on-site specialist team is ready to continue serving DC’s bravest and building the best program possible for this well-deserved department. Each week, we are inspired by these men and women who boldly serve their community day in and day out. Our goal moving forward in 2022 is to expand and reach more members each month, while maintaining the highest quality program in the fire service!
Arlington County Update –
From Trevor Sheasley, On-site Specialist with Arlington County Fire Department:
In 2021 the partnership between O2X and the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) was a successful one. Trevor has been consistently involved in the physical training program being conducted at the Fire Training Academy for Recruit Class 80 (RC80). This class began with 28 Recruits and is on track to graduate 26 in January 2022. It is a much needed stream of young firefighters that will bolster the ACFD force. The class’ Readiness Assessments showed a major improvement in between the initial assessment in July 2021, and the second assessment in October 2021. The overall class score improved by 8.5 points, bringing the overall score to 78.3 (out of 100). This score is 18 points higher than the average Tactical Athlete observed by O2X. Along with the assessment scores, the average body fat percentage was reduced by 2.4%, showing a consistent physical training program is an effective way to improve body composition.
Along with the Academy, Trevor has been working to bring high quality training sessions to every Firehouse. Throughout the year Trevor would regularly conduct group sessions that utilized the PREPARE, SWEAT, RECOVER method. This method has brought valuable knowledge about proper warm-ups and cool-downs to the stations that could potentially limit and reduce the likelihood of soft tissue injuries. When Trevor arrived at ACFD, many of the members admitted to not performing a warm-up or doing a cool-down pre and post workout. Since learning the purpose behind O2X’s PREPARE and RECOVER system, many of these stations have adopted it into their training sessions. In time this will directly impact the injury rate that was observed during PT sessions.
Within the first quarter of O2X’s partnership with ACFD over 70% of the department had taken the O2X Readiness Assessment. This gave the department, as well as Trevor, a snapshot of where the department stood during that time. A large emphasis was placed on nutrition as many members reported feeling they lacked portion control and an understanding on how to select the best foods to fuel their body. Trevor has been actively working with members on lifestyle modifications that lead to a long-term change in diet and habits. These long-term changes often result in more weight loss, and keeping the weight that was lost off. Recently, Trevor has teamed up with two members of ACFD (Clare Sabio and Tim Perkins) to develop a cookbook for each Firehouse. The cookbook is made up of recipes that have primarily been submitted by the Firefighters of Arlington, and it also contains creative ways to find healthy replacements for certain ingredients, education on food labels, and cost saving strategies, so no matter how small the crew everyone should be able to eat healthy. With this, combined with the recipes found in the O2X Human Performance app, Arlington Firefighters now have more access to healthy and easy recipes than ever before!
From August to the end of November ACFD member’s completed their annual physicals. During these physicals they completed a Metabolic Equivalents (METs) test and body composition evaluation using a three site skinfold test. The METs test is new as of last year and is a change from the V02 Max test they had previously used. This is becoming the standard for Firefighters because studies have shown that the act of firefighting is equivalent to 12 METs. If a Firefighter achieves less than 8 METs they are pulled from duty for their health and safety. This results in them being referred to a Peer Fitness Trainer (PFT) or Trevor to develop their conditioning. During the initial wave of referrals Trevor was chosen by several members to work on both their METs and body composition. These members are dedicated Firefighters who would like to get back in service as soon as possible and have been working hard to make the positive changes needed to come back better.
As the year comes to a close Trevor, O2X, and Arlington County Fire Department are preparing to move into 2022 better than they started 2021. With programs being developed and implemented department wide, O2X is working to enhance the performance of the department regardless of where someone is in their career cycle. With the work being done in the academy Trevor and the Cadre are ensuring the future of the department is coming in more fit and educated on what it takes to have a long, healthy career. With the work and education being done out in the field O2X is ensuring that the future leaders of the department are equipped to develop effective training sessions for their crews that will prevent musculotendinous injuries leading to healthier Firefighters and more cost savings for the county.