Firebreather: A Holistic Approach to Fitness
A new resource for living optimally & ready to serveBy Crawford Coates | Feb 6, 2017
Physical fitness is a multibillion-dollar industry proffering up a ceaseless supply of shakes, supplements, gym memberships, social media accounts, and more—all of which, meanwhile, claiming to be the best. Who in their right mind would applaud the arrival of yet another fitness book?
Here’s the thing: Greg Amundson’s Firebreather Fitness isn’t yet another fitness book. The subtitle is, “Work Your Body, Mind and Spirit into the Best Shape of Your Life,” but it might as well be, “A Guide for Cutting Through Fitness-Industrial Complex B.S. and Living Well.” And so it is a breath of fresh air—a rich and refreshing resource for anyone interested in total, long-term self-improvement based on lived experience and solid science.
The book is especially suited for those in public safety, and, foremost, police officers. Amundson himself is a veteran law enforcement officer and U.S. Army Officer. His dedication to public service and appreciation for the physical demands of the job will not be lost on these readers. In fact, this dedication is precisely what drives Amundson and makes him so effective in spreading the “Firebreather” message.
So what exactly is a “Firebreather”? He defines the term as “one who embraces the trials and tribulations of great physical challenge” and “an optimistic energy often associated with the heart of an athlete.” For Amundson, everyone in public safety qualifies as an athlete, and should train as such. He decries the recent emphasis on technology in law enforcement at the expense of holistic well-being: “I’m talking about an officer who is fully tuned physically, mentally, and spiritually so that, whether on- or off-duty, he or she is capable of an optimal response to the chaos and unpredictability of any dangerous or unexpected situation.” Getting you to that state is the book’s mission.
For Amundson fitness is one pillar of a three-legged stool: The other pillars—equally essential—are mind and spirit. With one pillar lacking, the stool wobbles. Eventually, without attention, the stool will topple.
So what do mind and spirit have to do with physical fitness and law enforcement? The mind, according to Amundson, maintains the goals and keeps tabs on progression. The mind must therefore be kept sharp and honest. The spirit, on the other hand, provides context: motivation and a sense of service beyond one’s self. He writes that as an officer with an “integrated mind-body-spirit presence, I operated tactically.” Ego didn’t interfere. His calm presence, he adds, introduced calm into what might otherwise have been violent situations. (It probably helped too that he looks every bit the elite MMA strength trainer he is.)
Amundson provides simple, clear-headed approaches to each topic, addressing along the way common objections and roadblocks. If you are familiar with CrossFit, then you are probably familiar with the rudiments of the workouts presented here. The points of performance will help you to refine your movements and they come from a bonafide CrossFit legend.
But you need not be familiar with CrossFit and its legends. The book is big and glossy, with ample photos to illustrate its concepts. The writing (co-written with T.J. Murphy) is concise and accessible. The book addresses martial arts, psychology, leadership, nutrition, building a home gym, competition, and more. Along the way you’ll get insights you might not expect. For example, Amundson sees exercise in nature and a connection with natural wonders to be essential to healthy living, unifying the mind, body, and spirit (and adding a dose of Vitamin D).
The culmination of the book is a 21-day plan to achieve optimal fitness. But it doesn’t stop there. As Gordon Graham says, you’re either improving or you’re deteriorating. Amundson goes on to provide plans and tips for pushing yourself constantly farther.
Greg Amundson is a friend, to me and to many. When I helped to launch CalibrePress.com, I wanted fitness to be at the forefront. I’ve never been a CrossFitter, but among the fittest cops I knew, CrossFit was at least part of the program. So I called up Amundson, explaining that we couldn’t pay, and he stopped me short: “Yes!” That’s the kind of person he is. (You can see his articles here or just search the site for “fitness” to see his many other contributions.)
What I came to understand after reading this book is how Amundson is able to do what he does both as an athlete and as a person. He exemplifies an incredibly powerful positive feedback loop: By preparing to serve others, you enhance yourself. By enhancing yourself, you are better able to serve others. And so on … Physical fitness thus isn’t some box you check a certain number of times per week. It’s not even a category of its own. It’s life.
This book will help to get you there.