Hey, you with the 85-lb dumbbells. And you too, Captain Crossfit. And hey, get that other guy over there while you’re at it. I haven’t actually seen him do any exercise, but he sure can run his mouth about how hard he works at P90X, whatever the heck that is. Now listen up.
First, let me say that you’re doing the right thing. Staying in great shape will have a huge impact on your career in security. The time that you put in at the gym will pay off if you ever get involved in a combat situation and after all, your ultimate goal should be to stay alive as long as possible. Well, at least long enough to enjoy all the big money that you’re earning! Most security professionals that I’ve worked with recognize the importance of being in good shape, whether through weightlifting, running, or even step aerobics. But with such a wide variety of workout options available, a young job seeker can’t help but ask himself, what level of physical fitness is “good enough”?
Answering that question could take days, and obviously you should always strive to improve yourself and reach for higher fitness goals, but since these articles are about getting hired I'm allowed to narrow my focus a little. When it comes to the hiring process, an acceptable level of fitness is being able to meet the standards that the company has laid out for you. Let’s use the example of having to run a mile in eight minutes. Finishing in six minutes flat might make you look like a PT stud, and might open doors for you in the future, but for that specific job you’ll only be graded as “Pass”. No bonus points, no merit pay, just a spot on the same list with the old guy who cruises in at 7:59.
But what happens if you come in at 8:01? Quite simply, you’re out of work. So this is where it’s time for you as an applicant to take responsibility for your career. Think of the physical fitness test as just another standard of employment, same as passing a piss test or a weapons qual. It doesn’t matter whether you can bench press 300 pounds for 10 reps. If you can’t meet the company’s Physical Fitness standard, you won’t get hired.
Babe, I know you love the stationary bikes, but hear me out. Spinning might get you in shape, but it won’t make you a much better runner. That’s what trainers call the Principle of Specificity: The best way to improve your performance at one athletic activity is to PRACTICE THAT SPECIFIC ACTIVITY. My suggestion? Find out what the job’s physical standards are even before you apply, and gear your training towards those standards. If the position calls for a quarter-mile stress course in gear, work in rotations carrying extra weight during some of your runs. If the position requires you to bench press your body weight, make sure that you can do it. And for the love of God, if the position requires you to get taped for a body fat assessment, hold off on the Cheetos for a few months!
Quite simply, plan your fitness activities around what it takes to get hired. After you land the job, there'll be plenty of time for you and your buddies to pick up where you left off in the Tae Bo DVDs...