- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - On the wall of Jared Gahm’s Bloomington garage is a poster board with 10 patches, each belonging to a different law enforcement, first responder or military agency, mostly based in Illinois.

“I’m not very creative myself,” Gahm said. “So, I had to ask my mom and girlfriend for some help. It’s too stressful for me.”

While Gahm leaves the artwork to others, he takes real pride in his role as a personal trainer. Gahm, who has dabbled in body building, worked as a bouncer and was even an MMA fighter, is now focusing on providing free personal training for first responders in his home.

“Over the years, I have developed several friendships with first responders and I design some workouts specific to what their needs are for work,” he said. “What they need is very different from what someone who wants to get in better shape or lose weight will want. And so we work on exercises that will benefit them in their job.”

In order to be admitted into any of the Illinois certified police academies, candidates must pass a set of standards developed by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. The Peace Officer Wellness Evaluation Report (POWER) test sets standards for a 1.5 mile run, bench press and sit-ups, based on gender and age.

“I would not have come close to passing that test without Jared’s help,” said Dustin Carter, chief of police in Stanford, who also works as a police officer in Lexington and Colfax. “I needed to make some lifestyle changes with eating and workout habits. Jared helped me do that.”

Gahm, who has degrees in sports psychology and nutrition from Eastern Illinois, has designed a set of grips hanging about 7 feet from the ground on a weight-lifting rack, and tests his clients on regular grip tests.

“For police officers, if they have to get into a struggle with someone, they may often have to hold someone down for about 30 seconds during the altercation,” he said. “So, what I do is try to develop exercises that will build muscles for that type of situation. It’s very difficult to do, but I have seen guys really make progress. I’ve never had anyone make it to 30 seconds yet. So far, the record is 18 seconds.”

In his full-time line of work, Gahm sells supplements for 1st Phorm, but has transformed his garage into a small gym. He works with officers from Bloomington, Normal and the McLean County Sheriff’s Department. Troopers with the Illinois State Police, such as Timothy Price of Bloomington, take advantage of what Gahm calls his “hobby.” Price, for instance, is learning how to box.

“I’ve learned how to control my hands, where to place them and how to better control someone if I have to be in a combative situation,” Price said. “Training with Jared gives me a lot more confidence and I feel better, both physically and mentally.”

Gahm has free weights available but each client has a specialized program, depending on his needs and wants.

“First responders have a great deal of stress with their jobs,” Gahm said. “They see things every day that a lot of us don’t see. I think boxing and a great workout is a great way to de-stress. Then they can go home to their family, tired out from a hard workout.”

Sometimes, he says, the participants have a specific injury that they are dealing with and use his workouts as a form of physical therapy.

“Back muscles are a particular concern for first responders because they are often lifting and sitting and getting in difficult situations that don’t happen every day,” he said. “I look for equipment to help with that.”

Gahm’s garage is big enough for a small workout station, but lacks the room and equipment that most big workout facilities have. He purchases equipment from garage sales or on social media sites.

Gahm doesn’t take payment for the personal training sessions, as long as the client is a first responder with a certified agency. Instead, it’s the patches he covets, as a wall of honor of those he has helped.

“For me, it’s something where I know I’m doing right,” he said. “What drives me is when I talk with these guys about something that happened to them on the job that their training helped with. I know that by helping these guys, I know that I am doing the right thing for the right people.”

Both Price and Carter praised Gahm for his work with police officers.

“I think what he is doing is a tremendous thing,” Carter said. “There are a lot of different thoughts and opinions out there, and Jared is really doing something special to help all of us.”

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Source: The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, https://bit.ly/2lnj7EE

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Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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