I am my brother's keeper: Robins duo teams up to help fellow firefighters get, stay fit

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
Being a firefighter is a team effort. If one member of the team isn't pulling his or her weight, so to speak, the whole crew suffers.

In order to motivate their fellow firefighters, two men started a monthly newsletter and a fitness program in January designed to help.

Andrew Shutes and Nicholas Hamilton, both firefighters at Station No. 2, have been working out for years.

"A lot of guys weren't participating, and they just needed someone to push them," said Forest Johnson, 78th Civil Engineer Group's Fire Emergency Services Division fire chief.

Shutes, 37, has been a firefighter since 2000. He has four certificates in physical training, sports nutrition, sports rehabilitation and senior fitness.

Shutes, originally from Humboldt, Tenn., comes to the station on his days off to help fellow firefighters in the station gym. He also takes a few to an outside gym to help them with their fitness  training.

Word of mouth now has a dozen firefighters participating in regular workouts in the station's training room.

"Word spreads fast that one person has success," said Hamilton, originally from Vacaville, Calif.

One of those stories is Firefighter Jackie Cates who has lost 22 pounds since January. He's also managing his diabetes with a healthier diet that he learned from Shutes and Hamilton.

Before he started the routine, Cates, 39, said he would get winded just putting on the 65-pounds of firefighting gear.

"If I did one thing, I'd be dying," said Cates, who graduated from Northside High School in Warner Robins.

Now he's eating healthy and his diabetes numbers continue to go down. His blood pressure has also dropped to a normal rate after three months. Cates also gave up his daily six-pack of soda which helps both the waistline and the diabetes.

"Once you get past the initial month, it's better," he said. The first two weeks were the hardest but Cates had Shutes at his side, encouraging and motivating him.

Working out with someone like Shutes and Hamilton might be daunting for some, as the pair are in good shape.

"I cater it to whoever I'm dealing with and then start working out. I try to slowly work them into a regimen," Shutes said. Hamilton echoed his fellow workout partner.

"People are sometimes intimidated. They may think, 'I don't want to work out after him,'" he said.

Neither of the firefighters wants anyone to feel that way. Both just want to help their fellow man succeed at the job.

"Firefighting is a team sport. It is never just one person," Hamilton said.