Nick Robben is a firefighter at the Fenton Fire District who has been in the Fire and EMS district for 15 years.
More recently, Nick has turned to personal training. He’s been a trainer for two years now and mostly trains with firehouse crews. However, he also helps his family and friends get started with their fitness journey and making healthy habits.
The combination of firefighting and personal training is a lot, Nick says. He balances his work schedule by living a fit lifestyle.
For Nick, fitness comes first! He then plans the rest of his day around it.
Naturally, Nick is a big user of our ThinkFit meal prep bags. Our system helps Nick stay consistent in eating healthy meals throughout his week.
Nick was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some of ThinkFit’s (and your!) burning questions about how he makes fitness a priority in his life.
TF: Hey, Nick. Thank you for sitting down with us today - we really appreciate it. Can you tell us how you decided to become a firefighter?
NR: Yeah! I knew I wasn’t cut out for desk work, and I love to help others. The job was a calling.... I feel at home in this role.
When I started as a paramedic, I was able to learn about the importance of health. Not just my own health - but others’ as well. The physical and mental aspect of this job are what really gets me going and striving to do better after every call!
TF: That’s great! Obviously, being a firefighter is a physically demanding profession. What led you to start incorporating fitness into your routine?
NR: So the first time we made a rescue in a building charged with smoke was when I realized it was going to take every ounce of what I had to “make this happen.” In addition, you have to make sure not only the victim, but your crew, are coming out together.
The high heat, low visibility and crawling positions aren’t depicted well on TV. It’s far more difficult than portrayed! Not to mention, our gear is an additional 60-80 lbs. on top of everything else.
TF: Wow. That’s impressive. Tell us about your journey to becoming a personal trainer!
NR: I’ve been working out since high school, along with sports teams. As I got busier with work and family life, I started going to the gym less. As a firefighter, fitness is a top priority and for me - but I was slipping.
As I got back into fitness, I found functional fitness to be much more rewarding than traditional weight lifting. CrossFit was really taking hold with people, and circuit training was also gaining popularity.
These forms of fitness are directly related to my current needs as a firefighter, but there’s just too much "bro science" to help others understand the correlation. So, I took it upon myself to get certified by both the NASM and ACE IAFF peer fitness programs to better understand their message and share it with others.
This journey really led me to hone my fitness lifestyle that has not only kept me in shape, but has me coming back for more.
TF: You have a few social media profiles that help with both exercise and nutrition. Can you tell us a little about those?
NR: I do share some of my health and fitness achievements on my personal Instagram, but @_oxull_ is my main account for workouts. I share all kinds of workouts on there - for free!
I believe the message I’ve learned is so important. There's something for everyone on my Instagram page, and I can tailor any of the workouts to your level. I also write out the steps so I can revisit them and see if I can improve on them, as well.
TF: So you mentioned that you’re looking to become a certified nutritionist as well. Why did you start to pursue that, and what does the certification mean to you?
NR: Definitely. I think once you leave your home, you have essentially entered a food desert - well, for healthy food anyways.
I used Keto and intermittent fasting over the last few years to cut out my bad eating habits. It's super important to remember both of those diets are not sustainable as a lifestyle, but they’re a good reminder to eat healthily.
So, like I said, there’s just too much information out there to say how we should be eating. I feel as though it's important to get my certification so I can help others sort all that information out. Certificates give personal trainers credibility with their clients.
Pro tip - and this one is free - stay out of the middle of grocery stores if you want to eat healthily. Plus, don't eat anything that comes out of a window!
TF: Working long shifts must make it difficult to stay consistent with your meals, which we know is a big part of staying healthy. How has ThinkFit’s meal prep bags helped you and your team for that?
NR: This is a two-fold answer.
- Portion size is huge - but it’s actually quite the inverse! Ask anyone who has done the 21 day fix. It's overwhelming at first to see what those portions look like, but if done correctly, those portions are more than enough food. These boxes in the ThinkFit kit are perfect portion sizes. You know you can eat the whole thing and feel confident in doing so! Most people fill an entire plate because they don't know any better, or their eyes are bigger than our stomach. If we did that, though, we’d end up eating the whole plate.
- Plenty of meals: with the ThinkFit meal prep kit, you can easily fit two meals (plus snacks) into the kit. That covers a 12 hour shift with no problem. A firehouse shift is 48 hours, but you always eat dinner with your crew, no matter the meal. So, for me, the left side of the ThinkFit kit is day one’s breakfast/lunch and day two goes on the right. The protein holders and cups fill the in-between meals perfectly. The pill container may be the best-kept secret in the kit. While working odd days and hours, it's a great tool for staying on top of my meds and vitamins.
TF: Do you have any additional inspiration for other long shift workers and first responders such as firefighters, nurses, police officers, doctors and flight attendants?
NR: Make time for fitness. Find a way to make the most of 20 minutes. Here are some of my tips:
- Learn to stretch and stretch every day
- Balance your fitness intensity and rest
- Include yoga and meditation
- Eat often so you don't binge or settle on something unhealthy.
- Sleep is key! Find ways to get quality sleep (cool room, black out shades, weighted blanket, noise makers, ect) Find out what works and use it!
If you want to keep up with Nick, remember to follow his Instagram:
Again, his page is a great resource for free workouts!
Nick is a great example of prioritizing fitness while having a busy schedule. With help from our ThinkFit meal prep bags, Nick is able to consistently eat healthy while working on his fitness goals.
We love hearing stories about how our friends and family have used our ThinkFit products to help promote and maintain a healthy lifestyle! We would love to hear from you as well. If you’d like to share your story with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org