The Darien YMCA is taking steps to make sure Darien’s finest stay that way.
Through a recently established partnership, the local Y is offering exclusive physical training sessions for members of the Darien Police Department.
The group of officers meets twice a week to work out at the facility located on the Post Road, which has been recently renovated to include a functional training center.
Working with everything from barbells to kettlebells, the officers are coached by the Y’s Director of Health and Fitness Suzanne Vita Ponticello and Head Trainer, Gene DeNota. Nearly every workout has an emphasis on functional training, which incorporates old-school tools such as sandbags, ropes and tractor tires.
“Functional training is a natural fit for the police department, as it will best prepare the officers for situations they will encounter while on the job,” said Ponticello, whose unique training style was featured earlier this year on the Today Show. “These men need to be prepared for nearly anything. We’re making sure they are.”
Ponticello goes on to explain that functional training is growing in popularity across the fitness industry due to its ability to produce optimal results in a minimal amount of time. By learning how to properly lift and move large, heavy and often odd-shaped objects, participants recruit several muscle groups at once, resulting in an extensive calorie burn.
“The major contrast was that these types of exercises constantly engaged my core muscles, rather than isolation movement type exercises,” said Dan Noto of the Darien Police Department.
When the participants began their training at the Y in October, DeNota and Ponticello put them through a physical assessment similar to what is required to be passed in order to join the force. Measurements such as their weight and body fat percentage were also taken and recorded.
“I felt like I improved on all aspects of my conditioning,” Officer Noto said. "My strength and endurance improved. I felt like I met all my goals."
Each of the officers will be re-tested periodically to ensure that progress is being made. Midway point assessments that were administered in early November already portrayed significant improvements in the areas of speed, flexibility and upper and lower body strength.
“We at the Y take our responsibility to the community very seriously, so this partnership with the Police Department is truly an honor for us,” said Ponticello.
“There may be no better use of our resources than to ensure that those who protect this town are fit, healthy and ready for whatever may be thrown their way.”