Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Fit for Duty: October 2014

Sherry Dean   

Features Fitness Health and Wellness

This column is dedicated to the men and women of our fire service and the families who have been affected by the devastating disease of cancer.

This column is dedicated to the men and women of our fire service and the families who have been affected by the devastating disease of cancer.

Every person is affected by cancer and every firefighter considers his/her increased risk. I commend the Government of Ontario for including breast cancer in its presumptive legislation. We continue to fight the risk. Departments deter or disallow smoking, we use our SCBAs in every IDLH and if you’re one of those firefighters who is dismissive about using yours, wake up! We try to eat well, to avoid carcinogens and, of course, we try to keep fit.

There are many departments that fundraise and advocate awareness. IAFF local 268 (my union) annually supports breast and prostate cancer in the month of July by wearing pink and blue T-shirts; it’s a great way to raise money and promote public awareness. We still have much work to do in the fire service, but we are making ground and that’s a great reason to celebrate with this workout. Yes, this is a celebration workout. You can even go out for a beer (or ice cream if you are at work) when you are done. Ask for a pink one.

There is one minute in the centre and at the end of this workout to dance. That’s right, dance. I was inspired at my CrossFit gym a number of months ago when a workout was dedicated to a young, vivacious member who had passed away. Her enjoyment of life was infectious and she made everyone smile. After every exercise, everyone in the gym danced their butts off for one minute in her memory and went on to the next exercise. It was amazing. So, if you hate dancing, too bad, and if you like dancing, stick the one-minute dance in as often as you like during this workout. You’ll enjoy it, or you’ll at least laugh, and we all know laughter is the best medicine.


Now, don your pink T-shirts and find some pink socks. This is a partner workout. Round up the team and break into twos. This is much more fun with peer support and, of course, friendly competition always makes us work harder. If you don’t have a partner, use a standard 90-second or two-minute time frame to complete the exercises and then run/jog in between.

The workout
During this partnership workout, one partner will do the exercise while the other runs/jogs/walks 400 metres. When your partner returns, he/she does the exercise while you run, then move on to the next exercise. The longer it takes your partner to run, the longer you do the exercise. Payback, however, is great. If you are too quick on the run, go farther or you can shorten the run if it’s not your strong suit. Run around the block or set up lines in the station and run back and forth until 400 metres is covered. My crew splits into three teams of two and competes to see who can complete the workout the fastest. It’s a great incentive, and who doesn’t love bragging rights?

Time to celebrate – you will need some great music playing during this workout. Enjoy!

  1. Air squat or weighted squat – Add an extra jump after each air squat or a press after each weighted squat.
  2. Travelling push-up – Put a piece of tape or chalk line on the floor. Push up on one side of the line then use your arms to travel to the other side and repeat.
  3. Skip/double-unders (double skip)/box jumps – It’s your choice which one you do, but don’t skimp on effort.
  4. Iron cross sit-up – Place two rolls of high-volume hose on the floor, put your heels on top and your arms straight out to the side. If you are able, come all the way up until your chest touches your knees. It’s tough.
  5. Both partners dance for one minute – Celebrate in the name of someone who has fought cancer. Yes, you will laugh and feel foolish, but humility never hurt anyone.
  6. Burpees – Hands off the ground at the bottom and a little jump at the top.
  7. Inverted push-ups – Get in a push-up position with your toes on the two rolls of high-vol. Start to walk your hands in toward your feet until your butt raises in the air. The closer you are to your feet, the harder it gets. You are really looking to activate your shoulders so get in as close as you are able with good form. Now push up.
  8. Dips and curls – Sit right on the edge of the high-vol with your legs straight out. Place the heel of your hands by your side and do 10 dips, then bring your feet in or stand up and complete 10 curls. Use whatever you like – weights, hose roll, highrise pack, SCBA. Alternate between dips and curls.
  9. High-vol raise – Place one high-vol roll on edge between your feet. Squat down, grab the roll and lift it up as high as you can. Put it back down and repeat.
  10. Both partners dance for one minute – Send me some pictures of your workout. I’d love to see you dance!

Now you can go for a beer or eat ice cream. Send me some pictures of that as well. If you send enough photos, I will create a Facebook page.

Sherry Dean is a career firefighter/engineer with Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Service. She is an NFPA level 1 instructor with hazmat technician and special rescue certifications. Sherry has more than 20 years of experience in fitness and training including the Scott FireFit Challenge, competitive bodybuilding, team sports and personal training. Contact her at

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