Anonymous Donor Gives Back to First Responders Through CrossFit
An anonymous donor has found a way to give back to the next generation of first responders. They purchased four months’ worth of classes at CrossFit Amarillo and donated them to fire department cadets in the area.
One big thing: The idea of giving back to first responders had been prevalent at CrossFit Amarillo for some time. There were some discussions about creating a program for the fire department, one that would expose them to high heart rates under duress and lifts that would better replicate having to carry someone to safety.
Nick Shelton, Coach, CrossFit Amarillo: “We’d been kicking around the idea and then about probably a week or two later, the donor came around and said, ‘Hey, this is something that I really believe in. I love CrossFit and what it’s done for me. I want to be able to give that back in a way that impacts as many people as possible, and I feel like this would be a great opportunity to do that.’”
- “Not only does it impact the direct community because gym members get to be around these first responders and they get to build some of that camaraderie with the people that are saving other’s lives in the community, but this helps the community outside of the gym.”
A strong foundation: The anonymous donor opened up the doors for cadets to get some exposure to CrossFit, but the Texas affiliate had a foundation already in place. There were some cadets that already received training for free over the years, and there were some active firefighters who took part in classes at CrossFit Amarillo. The foundation was in place, but there were more opportunities to give back to everyday heroes.
Achieving the goal: Donating classes to fire department cadets is one part of the process. CrossFit Amarillo had to deliver the programming that would raise their fitness floor and teach good habits. The training staff also had to focus on movements that are tailor-made for first responders. Fortunately, most of the coaches have at least eight years of experience, so they are well-versed in teaching CrossFit to newcomers.
Maybe 25 percent of the class members had experience in “technical fitness,” something that requires using a barbell on a regular basis, so part of the work involved learning how to deadlift and squat properly in case the cadets need to lift a person in the future. There are also real-world applications for sled pulls and sandbag work.
- “A lot of these guys, they’ve done only military-style workouts like push-ups, pull-ups, running, crunches, sit-ups, that kind of stuff,” Shelton said. “So introducing them to a barbell, for a lot of these guys, is actually quite new. But at the same time, it’s really good because they don’t have a lot of bad habits.”
- “These guys do wear equipment on a daily basis. They’re gonna get fitter, they’re gonna get stronger just naturally through CrossFit. So we don’t have to slap a vest on every workout to mimic the training environment. We do some odd object things though. Sandbags, a lot of dumbbell and kettlebell stuff. Things that maybe the general population doesn’t do as often becomes more of a frequent staple for these guys.”
Another important benefit: Improving the level of physical fitness among future first responders is critical. This will likely help save someone’s life in the future. There is also another benefit for the cadets in that they get to endure grueling workouts together and build stronger bonds.
- “There’s already a sense of camaraderie in this group within the few short weeks that we’ve been doing this because they’re in there suffering together,” Shelton explained.
- “They’re already starting to help each other out if maybe they’re struggling with form or maybe they’ve got a question about something, you see these guys starting to interact a lot more as more of a team rather than just a bunch of individuals.”
A bright future: The anonymous donor ensured that the current group of cadets would have access to CrossFit classes for four months. This is enough time for them to grow together and build better habits while preparing for a difficult career path.
There is a possibility that the program continues into the future. If the cadets show consistency and dedication, the donor could extend the program. For now, CrossFit Amarillo will simply focus on supporting the next generation of first responders.