|By Vince “Fitness Financier” Pe|
This month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Metro Toronto Police Officer – Peter Rampat to discuss what it’s like to protect our city and give back to our community. I’ve known Peter since high school and can tell you how serious of an individual he is when it comes to protecting Toronto’s fellow citizens. What I didn’t know about Pete was that he is also heavily involved with an organization called ProAction Cops & Kids (www.copsandkids.ca).
ProAction Cops & Kids has been active for 20 years and their mission is to build trust between our police officers and our youth by keeping the kids involved in fitness (and other activities) and away from trouble. With a proven track record of turning around the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of children, ProAction wins the war on crime before it even starts with their pro active approach.
Officer Peter Rampat is on the forefront of some of the most positive changes in the community by offering free martial arts to troubled youth. With Toronto being one of the fastest growing cities in the world, the potential for our youth to be involved in crime is a troubling topic. Thankfully, officers like Pete are there to make a difference and build a Strong Community.
Q: First of all, big thanks to you for protecting and serving on a daily basis. What are some of the most difficult things about policing?
Two of the most difficult things for me as a police officer is one, being stereotyped as a mean robotic officer who is always looking to arrest someone. I’m a very outgoing and personable person and love interacting with people; sometimes the uniform gets in the way of that.
Two, maintaining a workout schedule to stay healthy and fit. I work shifts that alternate between days, afternoons and midnights so my body clock is always trying to reset.
Q: It’s not often highlighted in the media, but what are some of the best things about being a police officer?
One of the best things is affecting people’s lives in a positive way. The movies always seem to portray cops as always making the big bank robbery arrest or saving the day with a big gun fight and car chase, but the small things often get minimized like being able to give positive advice and referrals to help make long term changes in peoples’ lives or going the extra mile trying to find out who stole money from an elderly persons bank account….there are so many more examples like these that for me make me feel good about using my skills to help others.
One of the best things about being a police officer is affecting people’s lives in a positive way.
Q: How important is it to integrate fitness into your line of work?
Integrating fitness into my job is paramount for so many reasons; 1. The physical toll shift work takes on my body can be balanced with proper diet and exercise. 2. Often times during an arrest I might have to struggle with someone before I actually get them under control so good cardio and muscular endurance is a must. 3. Common in policing are foot pursuits which start off at a full sprint and slowly tapers off to a run sometimes running up stairs or climbing fences until I make contact with my suspect. When contact is made the task of actually hand cuffing the suspect is still left to be done which requires your body to be in top condition.
Q: What does your training regimen in the gym look like?
When I go to the gym I try to replicate various situations I may encounter on the street. To prepare for a foot pursuit I will do 20 minutes of interval training on the treadmill to push my muscles and lungs to different levels of exertion. When I do weights I target every muscle and do higher reps (15-20) with 60 seconds rest in between to work on my muscular endurance.
When I go to the gym I try to replicate various situations I may encounter on the street.
Q: You are also a martial arts instructor. Has that been helpful on the field of duty?
I’ve been training in traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu since 1991. I became an instructor in 1997 and began to teach at the university of Toronto for 6 years. Our training is practical and intense to meet the physical demands of a violent self-defense encounter. I have been a police officer for 8 years and I can say that my Martial Arts training has given me confidence in any scenario and has provided me with the skills that have allowed me to overcome resistance during an arrest. In my line of work this means the difference between staying safe or getting hurt.
Q: You have a martial arts foundation for kids. Can you tell us about it?
The foundation that I work under is called Pro Action Cops and Kids. This foundation encourages friendships and community ties between police officers and youths in the pursuit of creating a positive relationship between youths and police.
Q: Why did you start this foundation for kids?
I chose to get involved with them because as a youth myself Martial arts clubs were expensive and I wasn’t able to attend although I had a love for it. I thought that with my skills and personality I could offer free Jiu Jitsu classes for kids 13 to 17 in the hopes of tearing down some of the walls the police uniform often times creates. I am grateful that Pro Action cops and kids have funded my efforts for the past 3 years now as I have seen the results.
Pro Action Cops & Kids encourages friendships between police officers and youths.
Q: How has it been received by the troubled youth you guys are targeting?
When I first started the program it was in a high school in Scarborough, in the east end of Toronto. There were some mixed feelings by some youths about joining because it was being run by a police officer. As time went by I had a full class of students who persisted and have been climbing the ranks. My motto has always been that I will never turn anyone away BUT expect to work hard for your belt because nothing in life is free. To date I have only had one or two students drop out of my classes simply because they had joined to learn how to hurt people and not how to work hard. The Martial Arts has always been surrounded by a warrior code or Bushido which teaches many facets required to master life…some of these are respect, discipline, humility, willingness to help others, self-control etc. If a student comes to me not willing to learn these things they will not last.
Q: Do you have any particular students that stand out? Kids that you’ve helped save with your foundation?
I can say with honesty that all my students stand out in some way of their own. I have watched all my students develop into different more positive kids whether it is in their physical conditioning, ability to create friendships, helping others during class, being respectful to the instructors and generally being a positive person.
Martial Arts has always been surrounded by a warrior code or Bushido which teaches many facets required to master life.
Q: I love that UFC has taken all forms of combat and turned it into a disciplined sport. Do you think mainstream MMA has helped with the interest in what you’re doing?
I believe that MMA has done a good job of bringing martial arts to people who maybe didn’t know it existed. It has definitely created a demand in the martial arts world for MMA clubs worldwide. I’m not sure what motivates the kids to come to my club but if it is MMA it’s not a bad thing. I believe that kids should start learning martial arts in a discipline that has a recognized belt system and focuses on the tenants of budo (warrior’s code). When they have become proficient at this they can cross train into the world of MMA. Some of the greatest fighters in the MMA have followed this route; Anderson Silva as disciple of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and George St. Pierre a disciple of Karate and now many other styles of martial arts. I find both of these champions to exemplify the warrior’s code.
Vince “Fitness Financier” Pe
Vince Pe, founder of the Fitness Financier, has spent the last ten years in the fitness and bodybuilding industry. He has worked for some of the most prominent sports nutrition companies in North America, dealt closely with the IFBB, NPC, WNBF and WBFF organizations, and managed some of the industry’s top athletes, including Mr. Olympia champions. Vince will be a regular contributor with feature interviews from some of the most interesting personalities in bodybuilding, fitness and martial arts. For more info about Vince, check out his company website at www.fitnessfinancier.com.