November 23, 2017
Health & Fitness
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  • As part of the Lawfit Challenge, Severna Park resident Stew Smith will train first responders to rescue someone from a remote area using stretchers.
    As part of the Lawfit Challenge, Severna Park resident Stew Smith will train first responders to rescue someone from a remote area using stretchers.
  • As part of the Lawfit Challenge, Severna Park resident Stew Smith will train first responders to rescue someone from a remote area using stretchers.
    As part of the Lawfit Challenge, Severna Park resident Stew Smith will train first responders to rescue someone from a remote area using stretchers.

Officers Will Square Off In Friendly Lawfit Challenge

Zach Sparks
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April 5, 2017

Contest Coincides With Healthy Anne Arundel Month

If you ask Stew Smith, fitness isn’t just a key to better health; it’s a survival skill. For police and firefighters, who can be faced with survival situations, it’s a necessity. That’s why Healthy Anne Arundel Month Planning Committee chair Carol Boyer tapped Stew Smith to lead the Lawfit Challenge as part of the month-long festivities.

Per the challenge, members of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, Sheriff's Office and Annapolis Police Department will train for free with Smith at the Severna Park Community Center from 6:00am to 8:00am on weekday mornings throughout April. After training with Smith — a regimen that includes running, calisthenics and swimming — they will be timed during an endurance course.

“My goal is to do an injured man scenario or rescue someone from a remote area using stretchers and the U.S. Naval Academy endurance course, which is a 3-mile trail with terrain and manmade obstacles to get over as a team,” Smith said. “We have had entire SWAT teams [and] firefighter rescue divers come join us. All workouts are easily scaled for all fitness levels, and we will create specific challenges each day for anyone who attends.”

Ryan Frashure, a spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, explained that each team will be judged on its time at the end of training. “However many times they want to practice is up to them, but only one will be timed,” said Frashure, who coined “Lawfit Challenge” as the competition name.

Several businesses are also lending their resources to the officers. Gold’s Gym and Positive Vibes Fitness, both in Glen Burnie, will provide free workouts during April, as will Premier Fitness in Annapolis. Giant Food registered dietitian Emily Craft is giving free consults and grocery store tours.

“It’s a great opportunity for our department as a whole,” said Ryan Frashure, a spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County Police Department. “Health is very important, especially for first responders. I saw a stat the other day … saying that heart attacks are down 44 percent since 2014. So this is great for our officers, not only the health aspect but team-building as well.”

Private First Class Ben Donahue, who patrols the Northern District, is one of several policemen participating. Donahue spent two years training with Smith when he was preparing for the physical fitness test to become a police officer.

“It sounded like a lot of fun, just a chance to do something outside of the normal patrol,” Donahue said of the Lawfit Challenge. “It’s in an environment where you find mentors giving advice. It’s higher-level stuff, but he’s very welcoming, and he helps you work on your weaknesses.

“Stew is a great leader and motivator; he’ll work with anybody and everybody, which is cool,” Donahue added. “He was a Navy Seal, but no matter how capable you are, he’ll work with you.”

Frashure said the free services offered by Smith, who also has a Heroes of Tomorrow program for aspiring military members and first responders, are especially valuable for recruits.

“To get into the police academy, you have to do a certain amount of push-ups, sit-ups and run the mile in a certain time, which is different for each age range,” Frashure explained. “That’s the biggest obstacle young people have; we have really good candidates and they can’t pass the physical, whether they do the push-ups but can’t do the run or they smoke the run but can’t do the push-ups. And we have a lot of people who will fail the run by only five seconds.”

Healthy Anne Arundel Month will close with an event at Marley Station Mall on April 29. There, the planning committee hopes to have a demonstration by police or firefighters to show the public the tasks completed as part of the Lawfit Challenge.

Regardless of each person’s fitness level, Frashure said there are no winners and losers, and the department is grateful to Smith for his help.

“How many people can say they’ve worked out with a Navy Seal?” Frashure said. “Stew’s modesty and generosity is overwhelming, and the opportunity to work with him – he’s a hero.”


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