Fitness in focus at Responders Cup
Eight gruelling challenges for Fleming students and community members
Strength and stamina were put to the test Saturday by 80 participants in the First Responders Cup.
The fitness challenge had a dozen teams competing for eight hours at the Peterborough Sports and Wellness Centre.
They worked their way through a series of eight gruelling challenges, vying to complete them as quickly as possible to earn the best time.
Fleming College launched the event last year. It’s hosted by students in pre-service firefighter, paramedic, customs border services, and police foundations programs.
Teams collect pledges to compete, with funds supporting the local Canadian Mental Health Association.
But it’s not just students who compete. The event is open to community members, too.
This year’s winning team was Kawartha Crossfit.
Jess Verwey, Kawartha Crossfit team captain, is an instructor for Fleming’s fire fitness. She’s also a coach at Kawartha Crossfit and works reception at the Wellness Centre.
Last year, Verwey competed on a Fleming staff team. This year, her team was made up of three nurses, a millwright and a construction worker.
Although she teaches fitness, Verwey doesn’t partake in her Fleming class exercises. The challenge was a chance to show her students what she’s made of, while also feeding her competitive nature.
“They don’t see that fitness part of me. And I love fitness, it’s part of who I am … now they can see me do stuff,” Verwey said.
Kaz Nesbitt also competed in the cup last year. He’s an accountant with Grant Thornton.
Although Nesbitt works out every day, the challenges he faced weren’t like the ones he does at the gym.
While Nesbitt did find this time around to be easier, he said his steam wore off as the day went on.
“The longer you go on in the day, the more challenging they get,” Nesbitt said.
But unlike last year, Nesbitt won’t be heading straight home to bed.
“We’re all going to go out for dinner to fill up some of those calories we burned off today,” he said of his post-cup plans with his team.
Jodi Steevens, Fleming’s professor of fitness and wellness for the justice program, is the driving force behind First Responders Cup.
With two more teams entered this year, Steevens was grateful to the Wellness Centre staff for lending them all three gyms this year. In 2017, the event took place in just one gym. She was also thankful to the 70 students who volunteered their day to help.
With first responders on the front lines every day, Steevens said it’s important for them to focus on their own mental health as well as their patients.
That’s why CMHA was the perfect benefactor for the event.
“We’re happy to be partnering with CMHA … it was such a perfect fit,” said Steevens.
Police foundations student Sarah Farmer joined a team of city police and Peterborough County OPP officers to compete.
Having participated in 2017, the Beaverton native upped her cardio over the last year to step up her game for 2018.
And while she felt better equipped than last year, her experienced teammates upped the ante even more.
“It’s hard to keep up with them,” Farmer said smiling.
Meanwhile, Owen Hickey and his team of fellow customs border services students, knew they’d have their work cut out for them as they entered the challenge for the first time.
Fitness isn’t part of their program until the second year, so students in fire, paramedic and police programs had a bit of a leg up.
“It’s definitely challenging, but we’re holding in there and we’re enjoying every minute of it,” said Hickey. The Peterborough native said he couldn’t have imagined a better organization for the event to support than CMHA.
“First responders are always there for us and Jodi Steevens gave everyone in this gym an opportunity to be there for them today,” he said.
In 2017, participants raised $5,500 for CMHA. Teams topped that amount this year, raising $7,654.
Fleming College student Scott Clyne, studying pre-service firefighting, competes in a challenge during the First Responders Cup at the Peterborough Sports and Wellness Centre Saturday.