EATON — Officers from the Eaton Police Division received an intensive workout for the July installment of their monthly training session when the FBI Academy’s health and fitness instructor paid a visit to the city.
E.J. O’Malley, internationally renowned as the toughest trainer in the elite program, met Eaton Police Chief Chad DePew when DePew was enrolled in the Academy this spring.
The FBI Academy, established in 1935 by J. Edgar Hoover, is an advanced, 10-week program at FBI headquarters that immerses executive law enforcement officers from across the U.S. and around the world in high-level classroom and physical training designed to sharpen their mental and physical skills to better serve their communities.
O’Malley has been training Academy students for 11 years. He and DePew struck up a friendship during DePew’s time in Quantico, Virginia this spring, the chief said. DePew, who returned home mid-June, asked if O’Malley would be willing to come in for a one-day lesson, and the two wasted no time working out details.
“I was most nervous about the physical demands,” DePew said of his Academy training, “but I ended up loving that the most.”
“Chief DePew came through,” said O’Malley, “and the message was loud and clear: to get them more fit requires more work. The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary, and the paradigm in fitness has shifted, so we need to do better work to get better results.”
Officers were led through a one-hour classroom session on the fine points and benefits of fitness, then moved to Chase N Grace CrossFit, where a no-nonsense, demanding one-hour workout followed, structured specifically for the local force by O’Malley. Multiple muscle strengthening and endurance exercises were employed, along with kettlebell, barbell, and gymnastic ring work.
“We did some animal movements,” he said. “We bear-crawled with some bands. We did traditional body weights, squatting, lunging, split squatting, some jumping mechanics. We simulated striking, as far as some martial arts are concerned, and some pulling. Pulling is always going to be important for the shoulders because we pull a lot more than we push.”
“We slammed them with some different movements, simulated defensive tactics, simulated sports,” he continued. “You do that, and the muscles will respond. It’s really that simple in our system, and I think the system trumps chaos. People need better plans, but it’s really manual labor. Old-fashioned work will always get results.”
The oldest member of the training session was not an officer, but Chief DePew’s father, Tim.
At 68 years old (“69 in August,” he proclaimed,) he kept up with the officers.
“I work out,” Tim said, “but, you know, I’m an old guy — I go to the gym three times a week.”
Tim spoke with great pride of his son’s time in the Academy.
“I was really impressed with the Academy and what they do down there,” Tim said. “I attended graduation and they shared a few things with me, and it was my privilege to be a part of that. The men and women there do a great job, and I’m grateful to the City of Eaton for allowing Chad to go and be a part of that.”
Tim was also impressed with O’Malley’s workout routine. On a whiteboard in the main gym, an attendee from another day’s workout had scrawled “DON’T GET OLD” in blue marker. Standing beneath it, Tim laughed and said, “It wasn’t easy, but I got through.”
“They did incredible work,” O’Malley said. “We had some people here today who protect our communities in a small town environment like the one I grew up in around eastern Pennsylvania, and now the way I get to pay back is to come to these small towns and get their officials in better shape.”
O’Malley has a sister in Mason, and turned the trip into a family vacation, bringing his parents so the whole family could spend time together.
“The message,” he said, “is longevity and durability.”
“E.J. did a phenomenal show getting us in better shape and really challenging us,” said Chief DePew. “Skill level aside, the guys in the best shape were sweating just as much as everyone else. I think everybody will be sore tomorrow, but everybody did really well. And, you know, it also builds camaraderie. To get the guys and girls in here together and support each other, at the same time we’re training, it’s really important for us to bond too.”
“I’m honored E.J. was willing to come here and share some of his wisdom with our staff,” Chief DePew said. “He made me realize a lot of things people, especially police officers, can do to be in shape and stay healthy, and that’s what the whole program is all about. Nobody’s trying to figure out who the strongest guy in the gym is. We’re trying to keep our hearts strong and healthy. The goal is not only to have a long law enforcement career where we don’t get hurt, but to retire and live for a long time afterward, and that’s what the program centers around.”