We don’t normally think of soldiers and first responders as “professional athletes,” but that’s exactly how my guest today argues they should see themselves. His name is Rob Shaul, and he’s the founder and president of the Mountain Tactical Institute — a research organization dedicated to creating fitness programming that takes workouts outside the gym and gives them a mission-centered focus. Rob believes that soldiers, police officers, and firefighters, as well as folks who participate in strenuous mountain activities like rock climbing and backcountry skiing, should view themselves as tactical athletes and train not just to train, but for a purpose outside the gym.
Today on the show, Rob and I discuss what makes the Mountain Tactical Institute’s mission-focused approach to fitness different from other organizations, why it is that soldiers and first responders should think of themselves as professional athletes, why soldiers in Afghanistan started following his fitness programming for mountain climbers, why there are so many out-of-shape first responders on active duty, and how to train to become a “tactical athlete,” even if you’re a civilian.
- Rob’s background and how he got started in tactical training
- Why do mountain/adventure athletes even need specific programming?
- How MTI caught the eye and focus of active military members
- Why different missions and events require specific fitness programming
- The most important things listeners can know about fitness requirements for military service
- The fitness culture (or lack thereof) of first responders
- The safety issues that present themselves when first responders aren’t fit
- What happens in our society when fitness standards are implemented in police and fire departments
- How age impacts one’s role in the military, and in first responder departments
- Why first responders and military members should see themselves as athletes
- The philosophy behind becoming a tactical athlete
- Specific fitness benchmarks and goals for police officers, military members, etc.
- The importance of durability in any athlete
- Should civilians strive to be become tactical athletes?
- The next evolution of fitness, and how we’ll move on from gyms and obstacle races
- What to do when your programming and workouts get stale
- What Rob calls “the burden of constant fitness”
Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast
- X Games (winter games start soon!)
- The History of the Army’s PT Test
- Fitness on the Front Lines in Iraq and Afghanistan
- My podcast interview with J. C. Herz about CrossFit
- GORUCK Challenge
- CDC study about firefighters and obesity
- First Responders: Why Do You Tolerate Unfit Police and Firefighters?
- Colorado Springs police department fitness test
- Why Every Man Should Be Strong
- Every Man Should Be Able to Save His Own Life
- Functional Movement Screen (FMS)
- Train to Dominate an Obstacle Course Race
- Are You Combat Ready?
- Army Physical Fitness Test standards
If you’re looking for a fitness routine that’s mission-specific and designed for a purpose, be sure to check out the programs available at MTI. I’m thinking of trying one of them out myself.
Connect With Rob Shaul and Mountain Tactical Institute
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