How women stay physically fit, meet the challenges of careers in public safety


By O2X Instructor CJ Gibbs

Momma always said, “Firefighting is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Some might consider this an understatement. The expectation of public safety has grown to incorporate not only public safety services, but EMS, technical rescue, HazMat, psychologic crisis response and much more. However, there are a few physical demands that you can always count on, no matter what area you’re in or where you work. As a woman with 16 years in the public safety, here’s my best advice for anyone – especially other women – looking to be physically prepared to be a first responder.

Get fit

It sounds obvious, but you must build on a solid base. I’m not saying to be a jacked-up gym rat or a marathon runner. But be at a healthy weight where you are able to move your own body efficiently and can do most things with a decent recovery. All of this comes from eating healthy, whole foods, in moderate portions, moving your body regularly, and addressing any metabolic issues you may have. Free caloric calculators are available online and can give you an idea of how many calories you need to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain a healthy body weight. You can find healthy recipes with a quick online search or on apps, such as the O2X Tactical Performance app.

Once you build that solid base, you can focus on things that are more specific to the job, such as muscular endurance. Tasks like pulling, dragging, pivoting and handling tools, equipment, and humans can be extremely taxing. While it’s important to be strong and capable of performing heavy lifts at lower reps, you’ll find that training larger rep ranges and static movements will pay off greatly.

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