UCIPD Fitness Challenge
By Charles Lam
Drenched in sweat and senses dulled, I stumbled from the Wellness Lab inside the ARC as gracefully as I could. My body was sending me conflicting signals.
“You’re fine right now;” “That workout was a breeze;” “You should probably sit down, get a drink of water.”
“You need to barf;”
I’ve done stupid things to my body before. I once completed a 12-mile obstacle course, up and down ski trails while drenched in ice water. I chugged a beer immediately afterwards. I didn’t need to barf then.
But, it was true; for the first time in my life, I really wanted to barf from a workout.
Despite this, my feet continued pulling me forward, step by step, almost without my input. I didn’t have a coherent thought until I stepped into the oppressively bright sunlight from the comfortable artificial lighting of the ARC.
“That was a bad idea.”
When you think about the UCI Police Department, you don’t get the same image you normally would if you thought of, say, the LAPD.
There isn’t much violent crime here, nor too many drug problems and gang violence. Nope.
You’re more likely to see UCIPD on campus with their patrol bikes handing out tickets to people skating on Ring Road or participating in a lecture or class.
Earlier this year, though, the UCIPD had a problem. According to Police Chief Paul Henisey, the department had seen a steady increase of worker’s compensation claims that were directly related to the department’s fitness level. The department wanted to find a way to increase the overall fitness level of its officers and decided that, in participation with the ARC and the University of California Office of the President’s “Be Smart About Safety” program, tailoring a fitness program for the officers was the best idea. Kali Knapp, fitness operations manager at the ARC, was tasked with whipping the department into shape.
What resulted was a 10-week program designed to increase the overall fitness level of the department.
“Before, I would exercise about three times a week,” Chief Henisey said. “Now, I exercise more but, more importantly, I would say I exercise more efficiently.”
The program was varied, focusing on cardio, strength building, flexibility, balance and body awareness. Portioned into different “phases,” officers focused on individual fitness areas first before finally combining their workouts. No two exercise regiments were ever the same, and none of them were ever “easy.”
“Kali was great. The exercises were strenuous and challenging but she made them appropriate for the job and, most importantly, fun.” Chief Henisey said.
The novelty of each workout kept the program fresh and exciting. The exercises took full advantage of the ARC’s facilities, including the Bod Pod body measurement systems and the TRX system as well as more traditional equipment such as the track, ropes and ladders.
“They [the officers] always knew what was coming because I gave them the program,” Knapp said. “But they never knew exactly what was going to happen. They didn’t dread doing the same thing over and over.”
The program was a success: 91 percent of the participants lost weight and saw improvements in sprint times, push-up numbers and flexibility. They also each walked away with a personalized workout plan. Chief Henisey personally lost five pounds while simultaneously dropping his body fat percentage by 3 percent.
“They [the department] say they’d like to do it again,” Knapp said. “We’d love to. We just need to find the budget for it.”