Indisputable Fact Number One: firefighters are their own worst enemy. The same air of stubborn confidence that makes us wade into the middle of stupidly dangerous situations also breeds a viciously complacent attitude when it comes to our own health. Therefore, it is no surprise at all that heart attacks are the number one killer of my peers nationwide. When you factor in the stress effects of being roused at 0300 hrs. from a comatose-like sleep by the alarms clanging like mad, the adrenaline rush and subsequent crashes and combine that with a piss poor diet whose most important ingredients are “hot, brown & plentiful” and “cheap”, you’ve got a recipe for cardiac chaos.
This is not to say that there aren’t quite a few of my co-workers who are fit, lean and leading the kind of healthy lifestyle that makes me just a bit nauseous. You know the kind: before taking a bite of any meal, they want to know if the lettuce was harvested within the last three days, and HOW it was harvested and just what IS the caloric content of a stalk of Romaine? And God forbid they tip back a beer, as though it were the unspeakable dietary equivalent of stomping a kitten on a sidewalk. I kinda hate those people.
But I also realize that it is the acme of hypocrisy to say I am capable of performing some of the more demanding physical aspects of the job while not making much of an effort AT ALL to stay in good shape. I’d rather sit on my keister drinking coffee with friends in my shop, all the while thinking I possess the stamina of my seventeen year old self. And, left to my own devices, my workout routine gives me the motivation factor of a sloth on Quaaludes. A little here, a little there, a cup of coffee, and HEYYYY! what’s that over there? Something to distract me? Homeless people fighting in the street? It doesn’t take much. And while I’d like to think I could lift a bus up off of a baby stroller (how did THAT scenario ever make it’s way to the public lexicon, anyways?), the truth is that I needed to get off my ass before a ten pound dumbbell was responsible for my demise.
Indisputable Fact Number Two: I hate running. I’ll do it if I have to but I always imagine I look something like a sweaty, grunting musk ox lumbering down the trail. That, and I always get passed by 90 year old health freaks who give me an even worse complex; I’d kick at ’em, but no doubt I’d break my foot on their oxygen bottle. No, I prefer to get my cardio on my mountain bike or playing ice hockey or running to the fridge to grab another Guinness. And so, in a supreme moment of odd and testosterone-free behavior, I decided to try a spin class. I told no one. I was secretly hoping to find out that it was as stupid as I’d perceived it to be every time I saw a class in session. That would segue nicely into another round of putting off getting all “healthy” again. Having been in work environments ranging from the oil rigs of Alaska’s North Slope to running a D-9 bulldozer in a rock pit to the hairy knuckled confines of a firehouse, there was no way I could actually benefit the sheer wussiness of riding a bike that goes nowhere while a bubbly instructor gleefully calls out sequences over some techno-crap music. I went prepared to hate in a big way.
I loved it.
Crap. Now what?