This weekend in sunny Chandler, Arizona, a fitness collaboration 10 years in the making came together. I thought I’d share my reflections from this exciting success. Triplex Training performance center, Fitfighter equipment and celebrity firefighter Matt Long fused collective energy and commitment into a model for change worth spreading far and wide. Here’s what I learned from this experience about what makes partnerships impactful. 

1. Find Shared Commitment in Separate Entities

We converged from three different angles — Triplex a performance training center outside Phoenix, Fitfighter a fitness equipment and program supplier from Long Island New York, and Matt Long a retired FDNY fireman and motivational speaker. We found that we shared a common commitment: to prepare you for what really happens out there. Whatever hits you next in your life.

We found that joining forces, our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. 

A mutual friend connected me with Matt Long when I was looking for a partner to spread Fitfighter Training's message around the world. A 17-year veteran of the FDNY, Matt suffered a should-have-been-fatal bike accident, returned to life as an Ironman, and now preaches the power of will and importance of fitness for life to groups around the country. Our shared interests connected us.  

Matt had met Kyle Herrig, owner of Triplex Training, in 2007 in a time of desperation during a slow recovery. He was looking for someone to believe what he wanted to believe — that not only would he walk again, but he would run. Matt moved to Arizona, where Kyle helped him return to life as a much more than a runner: an Ironman.

This summer, shortly before the 10 year anniversary of Matt's accident, we started to talk about building a collaboration with Kyle and Triplex. Matt wanted to return to Arizona to say thank you. He knew that Triplex and Fitfighter had something special in common. So we brought the troops together.

2. Design a Destination Event  

We dreamed up a 2-day event for five Phoenix area fire departments and the general public. Each of our entities added its unique value to the events — eight circuits featured a new world class facility at Triplex, Fitfighter Steelhose equipment, and Matt’s story of the will to survive against the most extreme of odds.

With a workshop-style intro, we relayed three simple principles for training fire ground movements. We emphasized training in three dimensions, using functional movements in a controlled fitness setting to prepare for whatever goes on outside the gym. 

Fire hose suicides, search operations, weighted burpies, hose carries, truck-height jumps, and ceiling breach repetitions rounded out a 10-minute intensive circuit timed by a boxing bell with 15 short seconds in between. Much like the fireground, we left little time to think. We’re training the body to be ready, and to react.

In the end, Fire Chiefs, line officers, and crews are armed with a introductory playbook to bring back to their departments: three simple principles to govern training on eight fire ground maneuvers. The public got a taste of what it means to be the ultimate occupational athlete (TM): the firefighter. 

3. Sustain the Momentum

Let’s replicate this type of collaboration in the future!! Our industry is filled with momentum to connect professionals, training centers, equipment providers, motivators, and leaders of major institutions including the fire service and the military. We can use this demonstration-based model to bring together new disciples for our message. Finally, connecting the masses to our public service professions fosters support, appreciation, and interest for their extraordinary work. 

Smart collaborations generate tremendous value for our clients, our athletes, and our public institutions who rely on superior fitness training to protect themselves and our communities. Ideas and innovation grow from bringing competitors, friends, and industry experts together. There is room for all of us.

Finally, stories like Matt’s spawn humility. They inspire all of us to dig deeper, reach farther, and demand more from ourselves and those we serve in our industry. As fitness professionals, we should hold them close, remind ourselves of them often, and share them incessantly. 

Here’s to our next big showdown! Stand by for more.