Is physical fitness an important component in the security industry?
I know I have asked this question before online and received a variety of responses. I have my own thoughts on the subject but throughout the industry there are various beliefs. Some will say it depends on the job you are doing and some will say that it depends on the individuals approach to work. There is also a debate about what is physical fitness? Is it the ability to run a marathon, sprint for 200m, lift heavy weights or fight effectively? Different approaches to fitness suit different people. In this article (which will probably be shorter than usual) I want to talk about what I have seen around the industry both nationally and internationally.
Im not a doctor
I always preface this type of article with a warning. I am not a medical professional nor I am I a fitness trainer or a physical instructor. I would like to think that I have quite a lot of exposure to fitness in a personal capacity but I have no intention of telling people how to get fit in any way. That’s for the experts to decide and many of you know far more about it than I do.
My personal viewpoint
In my personal opinion physical fitness is an important part of a professional security operatives overall skill set. That’s not to say that you can’t do security without being physically fit. All you have to do is look around the industry to see that you can. I’ve always treated physical fitness as part of my overall skill set and I have had times (as I’m sure that many of you have) where physical fitness has saved me. As I look back on the social media posts I put up on this subject over the last year I noticed something which kind of tallies with what I previously thought. Those who said that they did regard physical fitness as important were also the ones who were more successful in the security industry. If I look around at my contacts nationally and internationally and I look at the pope who I regard as being successful, they all tend to be physically fit people. When I say successful I dont just mean running a company where they are making a profit off the back of exploiting their employees. I mean successful in terms of having important roles in the international security industry and changing the direction that the industry is going in. Now maybe that’s just a coincidence but I dont believe so.
What is physical fitness?
It is many things to many people and much of it will be job dependant. For me I’ve always liked to be a blend of as many of its components as possible. Some people are strong, some are fast, some have endurance and some have efficiency and physical skills. I always like to kind of balance them. Again I’m not going to tell you how to get fit or strong or fast I’m just suggesting what I believe it to be.
Why is it important?
If I think about the types of security work I have done and still do. I have worked at events last summer where I walked a full marathon (42KM) each day for two days. I have worked jobs last month where I didn’t walk any more than 10 steps all day but I was on my feet for 14 hours. Both of those require different types of fitness. They dont necessarily require fitness to get done but they do require fitness to stay mentally alert and on top of your game while doing it. The same applies to a more sedentary role such as CCTV monitoring. It doesn’t require aerobic fitness to watch the screen for 12 hours. But fitness certainly gives you the edge in terms of alertness over the person next to you.
In my years a door supervisor I experienced many hours of standing still yet having to be prepared for instant short bursts of physical violence in a controlled way. Being physically fit (not just in terms of skills) certainly saved me back then.
Does it mean knowing how to fight?
That’s a whole different article there on martial arts training for security. Realistically physical fitness doesn’t mean knowing how to fight. Being physically fit certainly helps though. Most violent encounters require anaerobic fitness over short fast bursts in addition to physical skills and if you dont have it then your skills wont save you.
My last two cents
I could be completely wrong on this but I personally think that physical fitness is important for those who want to develop long and healthy careers in security. This is both for physical and mental longevity. Of course you can do without it but that brings with increased risk of stress, illness and injury just due to the nature of the job. In my opinion there is no downside to physical fitness and there is nothing to be lost. Feel free to disagree but I think the benefits it brings, coupled with the reduction in risk outweigh any counter argument I’ve heard so far.