The EPS Fitness Test
As McCauley residents, we unfortunately need to interact with the Edmonton Police Service from time to time. In my experience, officers are kind, professional, hardworking folks engaged in trying to make a difference in our community. When I started to question my current career path, I realized I wanted to find more meaningful and fulfilling work. I decided to explore the possibility of joining the EPS.
The EPS has an eight-step application process. Each step must be completed before you can advance to the next. For my 42 year-old body, step three, The Fitness Test and its evil cardio component, was where I stalled out.
The Alberta Physical Evaluation for Police, or A-Prep, requires medical clearance before you can participate. There are two parts: A pursuit/restraint circuit that requires you to run up and down stairs, scale a five foot fence, wrestle a 75 pound machine, compress an arm restraint simulator, and drag a 150 pound dummy 15 metres. All this must be accomplished in under two minutes and 10 seconds while wearing a 16.5 pound weight belt. After I attended an orientation and some practice sessions, this didn’t seem easy but with some added weight training it was doable.
Part two of the A-Prep was the real problem: the Leger (or beep) test. You are required to reach Level Seven of the test, which involves running a 20 metre shuttle before each beep sounds. Supposedly, at the beginning you are at a relaxed jog with nine seconds for each 20 metres, with beeps getting closer and closer together so that by the time level seven is reached, you have only 6.55 seconds between beeps. When completed, you will have covered 1220 Meters in 7.49 minutes, including 52 stops and turns. I would describe myself as more of a St. Bernard than a Greyhound: cardio is not my go-to exercise.
I hired a running coach (a.k.a. my father, who was a hotshot runner in his day and willing to be paid in hugs) who constructed a five month running plan to get me up to speed. On my first pathetic attempt at the Leger, I barely got to level 0.7. Fact: at five foot three, running 20 meters in nine seconds is not a relaxed jog. I had a long way to go!
My neighbours can attest to my running up and down our block all summer long. I ran as much and as far as I could, including an empty room in my office building that was exactly 20 metres long. Slowly, I improved. By the time I was invited to do the test I could reach level 5.9. I was hoping adrenaline would carry me the rest of the way at crunch time.
The day before my test, I put a wood gouge through my index finger (a wood carving class fail is the short explanation), but it was too late to reschedule the test. Even if I could have, I had put in so much time and energy into my training that nothing was going to stop me. I showed up with a bandaged hand and tried to stay positive.
Even if I could have, I had put in so much time and energy into my training that nothing was going to stop me.
On test day, I was one of three females in a group of 25 mostly men in their 20s, which is intimidating when being measured for physical fitness. Women tend to weigh less, be shorter, and have smaller hands than men, so the fitness requirements can be a lot more challenging. I was way outside my comfort zone, having never played sports or participated in any sort of military adjacent activity (I was also, predictably, the oldest person in the room).
The pursuit/restraint circuit went okay, despite the too-loose weight belt jostling around my torso, until the arm restraint simulator. The simulator requires 32 pounds of grip strength per hand to operate. My swollen hand refused to cooperate, so I had to repeat the step a few times before I was successful. This cost me time I didn’t have to spare. I finished the circuit at two minutes and 28 seconds – 18 seconds too slow. By this time, my hand was dripping blood, so at least it looked like I had an excuse. Since I failed the circuit, I did not advance to the Leger. Despite my months of training, I was really relieved.
Will I do the test again? I don’t think so. My aversion to running is probably a good sign that the 28 weeks of recruit training would be miserable for me. It’s nice to know that the EPS has very high standards (by contrast, the RCMP and Ontario Police have done away with fitness testing altogether) but I think easing the focus on physical fitness a little in lieu of life experience, community connections, and individual skill sets would help with diversity within the EPS. After all, someone will never have to pass the Leger test again.
Lindsay Brommeland is a McCauley resident of 14 years who will try anything once.