Let me first start off by saying that I am no gym connoisseur. I have been back in the gym lately, and cannot help but notice the vast variety of people in there. I scan my eyes constantly when I am “in the zone” of sweat and pain. As I keep pushing myself through the threshold of soreness and wobbly legs, I try to think about other things so I can keep my mind off it. I can’t help but notice how the different types of people at the gym are ever so similar to the different types of people and attitudes in the fire service. But whats my point here? Well, I first thought was that we were all in the gym at the same time. We are all strangers to one another, but we seem to spend the same amount of time together, nearly every day. Just like at the firehouse, we are on a schedule. 3-7 nights a week, we all see each other and give the innocent head-bob as we walk past one another in the hallway between the Juice Bar and the free weights.
The Quiet Ones
The ones that come to the club, do what they have to do and go home. These types can be one of two different kinds. These are the group of people that could be the ones in the corner, trying to stay away from the stress in their life and are just wanting to relieve some of it by working out, even if it isn’t an incredibly hard workout. At least they can take their mind off of their daily tasks. Destress. Slow down for a little bit, and take care of their body so their body can take care of them. These types could be the ones that go to work, show up on time, collect a day’s pay, and go home. They could be that volunteer that shows up to monthly meetings and a couple of calls here and there but wants to be sure he has a T-Shirt to wear every day. By-golly, he sure does flash that badge when he has a meal at a local food joint. He earned that badge. He earned it by coming to the firehouse and calling himself a firefighter. They don’t speak to anyone because they have been publicly humiliated before. They want to avoid the confrontation or embarrassment if anyone calls them out again in front of the group.
They could also be the one that is extremely hell-bent about everything they do. They don’t go with a friend to the gym because their workout routine has no time for a friend. They don’t need anyone to keep them focussed. They don’t want anyone in their way when they have their heart rate up, and their testosterone is pumping. These are the guys that come to the firehouse and are some of the baddest-ass firemen that are out there. They are the ones busting their behinds out on the training ground and are the ones that are out in the bay doing their own combat challenge, no matter what the rest of the crew thinks of them. They know their job. They know their responsibilities without needing an order from the officer. They know what is expected of them when the Emergency Brake pops and they know they will get the job done. No matter what.
“Anything for them gains…” “Check out my abs…” “You see that girl over there?”
I laugh at some of the conversations I overhear. Especially when you get a couple or more guys working out together. It almost seems like these types spend more time talking than actually lifting anything. Standing around, huddled in a circle around the one person that is physically doing a set of reps. They stand there, flexing in the mirror, talking to each other about “that chick” in the yoga pants over there. I wish I had the time to actually see how much working out they were doing versus how much dialogue they were producing.
We all have heard the “talkers” at the firehouse. We all laugh as they are spewing out phrases to civilians or visitors like, “Real firemen wear leather helmets…” “I’ve seen so much fire in my time…” Blah blah blah…..I cringe when I hear someone acting a fool. I am almost embarrassed for them. I almost feel like they are a slow-motion train wreck, and I’m just sitting there watching it all unfold. I find it kind of funny that we can associate a group of dudes making a fool of themselves in the gym with a group of people that we all have in our own perspective departments. Trust me, you’re not the only one….we all have them.
They sure do try don’t they? These are the ones that no matter how hard they are working at it, they just can’t succeed and better themselves. They eat while they are lifting, or they are walking at the speed of fart. No matter how much time, effort, or money they put into their attempt at becoming better, it just doesn’t show or work out for them. They can have all the certifications in the world, but sometimes they are only as good as toilet paper. The ones that are trying so hard to get off their probation, but haven’t been able to since they can’t remember the required material. Or the ones that have been told time and time again to fix their actions, and become a better firefighter, but there’s just no hope. And my personal favorite….the fellas that are there for a selfie. “In front of the rowing machine!”…”Look at me, I’m working out!” “I’m a real firefighter now!” “Look at this house I’m standing in front of while an entire family lost everything!” Not cool. Pictures have their place….in front of devastation with a smile on your face is not it.
Some people are are just not cut out for this job.
And then there’s the meat heads. The over-the-top, crazy-ripped, not even a little bit easy on the eyes, deformed, testosterone injected, protein shaking, weight dropping, “Ooooiiiii” screaming, belt-wearing meat heads. They are the most intimidating/scary bunch in the gym. Just look at them! They walk around, wearing their spandex shorts, weight lifting sandals, and muscle tees. With their unnatural looking, chiseled muscles, and loud voices. They are clearly the ones that have spent the most time in the gym, or at least, look like they have. They DO have impersonators, though. The ones that would rather inject their muscles than work for them. We have all seen this when we have an intimidating officer, who has seen their fair share of “sh!t”, and have a grudge against anyone under them. The senior firefighter with more years on the job than the rookie has been walking this earth. They are not always bad, but some are more intimidating than others. You are afraid to piss them off because you’re not sure if they will make it a learning experience, or an embarrassing one. These are the guys that feel they don’t need to worry about re-racking their weights or doing station chores because they’ve served their time and have earned their spot. And as for impersonators? They are the ones that have taken all the classes, and have been an assumable/acting officer for all but three weeks, and are throwing orders around out like they’ve been doing it for 30 years.
All in all, we have all of these types of people in our departments. Some have more than others, but we all have seen some sort of this activity in the firehouse setting. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts as I spent my evening trying to better myself. I am not intending on hurting feelings, just sharing some thoughts. If I hurt some, hopefully, it’s not because you are one of the above groups.