The Firefighter Combat Challenge is about power and functional movement. So is CrossFit. Mike Warkentin talks to Dr. Paul Davis and elite firefighting athletes about what that means for the future of fitness.
“The whole point of this thing is to sort of beat you down. When it’s all said and done, you’re moving very heavy masses and trying to move them fast.”
Dr. Paul Davis isn’t describing CrossFit. He’s talking about the Firefighter Combat Challenge, an event he invented in the ʼ70s to predict the success of the men and women who run into burning buildings and carry out the people trapped inside.
It took several years for Davis to discover that his challenge was more than just a way to measure true fitness—it was a way to encourage it.
“In 18 years of having run this competition, we’ve got a lot of misconceptions still,” Davis says. “People misconstrue the constructs and dimensions of fitness. They come back and they’ll say, ‘I added 75 lb. to my bench press,’ and I go, ‘OK, and that does not translate into high performance.’”
Davis says his sport is about power—moving a lot of mass in a short time. Sound familiar? Given that so many of his athletes speak so highly of CrossFit, Davis has been compelled to research the program and its methodology. After all, he sees its efficacy at every Challenge.
“The proof is in the pudding, because it’s pretty evident that a lot of our standout athletes regularly engage in (CrossFit),” he says.