Change is always super hard! But try major overhaul to a centuries long (1858 to be exact) tradition at one of the oldest institutions in this country — the Army — and you quickly become unpopular. Efforts to evolve entrenched standards always stagnate at first. However, with a few folks like General Mark Milley and Secretary Mark Esper at the helm willing to break some china, and a growing number of young people unfit to become soldiers, wheels are in motion to pilot a new skills-oriented combat readiness and fitness test.
Kudos to these leaders for continuing to kick tires on this. There’s no substitute for stubborn persistence when it comes to behavior and policy change on issues like fitness standards. The same was true of allowing women to serve and lead in infantry and armor units, and Ranger training. Finally, there was no reasonable argument remaining to ban females who meet the same standards as males from leading combat arms units. (BTW: have you seen these badass soldiers?!) But it takes a while for culture and precedent to catch up to practicality and metrics. We’re human, after all.
Reflecting on my own path in the military, I chose the Engineer Corps precisely for the likelihood of leading a platoon as a female in a combat support role. At the time I branched in 2001, there had been rumblings about women in combat arms branches for years, but it took another nearly two decades to become a reality. Now the military is both setting an example and setting new standards that should be praised and followed by other public institutions.
At Fitfighter we are honored to work closely with candidates — men and women — seeking to join another of the most physically demanding professions — the fire service. Together we are making big dents in fitness standards across the ranks. Leaders such as Chief Hood in San Antonio and Derek Alkonis in Los Angeles have set a high bar for investment in both department level programming and national fitness standards, and they are sounding the alarm to others. Departments such as Phoenix, AZ have long been pioneers in first responder wellness, and I was honored to partner up with Kyle Herrig, Owner of Triplex Training in Chandler, AZ and Matt Long, Professional Firefighter, to offer demo steelhose circuit training for Phoenix area firefighters. I am thrilled to be involved in taking a page the Army playbook and iterating on national fitness standards for firefighters that increases readiness, improve performance, and optimize results.