Milford firemen enjoying workouts

It’s been years since I’ve watched the movie “Backdraft,” but when I picture firefighters, I still see Kurt Russell and William Baldwin.

But that’s not accurate, just like 99 percent of everything that comes out of Hollywood. Firefighters aren’t movie stars, and they aren’t superheroes. They’re people like you and me, except a whole lot braver.

That’s probably the first word that pops into my head when I hear the word firefighter – brave. But even brave people need to work out.

The Milford Fire Department was looking to do just that with its firefighters. A few weeks ago, some of them approached Hampshire Hills, whose team of trainers had the perfect idea for the firefighters.

“It was our concept to bring in a military type boot camp to the firemen,” Patrick Jones, one of the trainers at Hampshire Hills, said. “Firemen, police men, military, they’re all in the same category of service, they do the same type of training.”

Using his own experiences in the Army, Jones has been working with the Milford firefighters twice a week, going an hour each time, for the last three weeks. The group is halfway through its planned program, with about half of the department participating, and everyone taking part is enjoying it.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” firefighter Jeff Carter said. “Everyone looks forward to it each night and it’s been a positive thing for morale.”

The group has been doing a little bit of everything, including cardio, calisthenics, plyometrics and body weight training. During a class last week, the group split into two and had two rounds of tug-of-war.

“It was a very good tug of war,” Jones said. “When I told them, they couldn’t believe we were doing it. It’s hard work to deal with so many people here and having to keep them busy. We want them to keep moving so no one is stagnant.”

And of course the firefighters have found ways to turn some of the exercise they do into a competition. Pretty soon, it might end up being a competition between different departments.

Word of what Milford’s firefighters are doing has gotten around to other towns, and some of them have inquired about starting up a program as well.

“Someone heard me talking about it in the fitness center,” Jones said. “The morale is contagious and it’s become a friendly competition.”

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. To find out more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 603-673-7123 or e-mail