Fit to Serve

As often occurs in the fall, I fly in late on a Saturday night after teaching a workshop with Lee. It’s a scramble, but Sunday morning, I’m sitting in church because the rest of my family’s there, but also because my dad’s the guy standing at the front of the church. My dad’s a preacher, if you didn’t know.

photoThis Sunday there was a responsive reading at the beginning of the service because it was Veteran’s Sunday. A very powerful reading was in our church bulletin, and the service was wrapped around that. I want to share that with you.

It was very timely for me to see Dr. Ed Thomas’s new video this morning. The video, entitled Fit to Serve, is something I think everyone needs to watch, and then simply think about. If it compels you to take action in some way, that’s fine, but at least just think about it. We owe our veterans and we owe our wounded warriors that much consideration.

ed-thomasIt never ceases to amaze me when I talk with Ed Thomas, or get to hear him narrate some unbelievably profound visual images. He’s a wordsmith in the way he communicates a message. What we have in Dr. Thomas is a physical educator, someone who took physical education to the doctoral level.

This is not a guy who chose physical education, teaching and coaching so he could take summers off. This is someone who realized his way to better humanity is in physical culture, in the physical arts, and in physical development.

I think about how our country would take action if we saw the illiteracy all of the sudden just stay on an decline. What would we’d do if we had children who couldn’t do simple math in their heads? The actions our government would take if we couldn’t read or intelligently work with numbers would be immediate, and all-encompassing.

military squatYet we’ve had a physical decline in our fitness and culture for quite some time.

obstacle-climbEd captures this by looking in the petri dish of the US military. Everything that’s happening in our military—or was happening in our military—is literally a sign of the times, and is just a picture of our overall population.

When we post fitness articles and interviews and videos on the internet, let’s be honest: Most people are interested in those because of a physical aesthetic they’re trying to achieve or an athletic goal they’re trying to bring about.

But when we talk about fitness, when we talk about fire fighters or the military, the police or some other public service like first responders, these are people who sacrifice their lives, their health and sometimes their fitness to perform  a service.

Those of us who get the opportunity to train those people should feel an extra degree of connection to this. Every one of us can do something to foster the integrity of physical culture, not just in the military or first responders, but all the way to the school system.

As you watch Ed’s video, and as you review other fitness or athletic development articles, consider this: How much of this information is making it into the military, or into our 7th grade PE classes?

This is where I think our true physical fitness model must be present and demonstrate effectiveness in the way we prepare people to defend our values, and in the way we decide to grow our children. I think Ed Thomas speaks intelligently to both those.

Now I’m going to embed some other videos from this brilliant man, who has served us both as a veteran and continues to serve us with his insight today.

Click here if using iPhone, iPad, or you cannot see the video player


  1. Robert Pingatore says:

    I’m blessed to work with police officers in both detective and SWAT roles, and firefighters doing both structure and wildfire (smokejumpers). I find that I am much more verbal in coaching sound physical and scientific principles with them than other clients when we train because I know that they will pass that information along to their colleagues on those days when they train together outside of my control.

    And because “My trainer says,” is only effective if I know that every moment they spend with me encourages proper posture, function, and longevity, I am always mindful of the ripple effect. A special thanks to you and cats like Mike Reinold and John Hardy for holding the standard as high as you do.

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