Houston Police Department’s South Gessner station is about to get a lot more action.

This past April, Captain Craig Bellamy began thinking about the station’s gym, which didn’t have many options beyond a few free weights. “We had a gym in place, but it wasn’t really working out,” said Bellamy. “With a new gym we’ll be able to have enough equipment to make it effective.”

Bellamy says he was surprised at the generosity of community donations, which made the new gym at the South Gessner station possible. About 2/3 of the $16,000 came from Brays Oaks Management District and 1/3 came from Southwest Management District. The gym should be completely finished and full of all the new equipment by the end of November, and the station is planning a dedication ceremony on December 20th with Houston Police chief Art Acevedo.

Personal fitness, while important for first responders to perform their best at work, is often overlooked. For members of the Houston Police Department, getting to the gym before or after work can present obstacles. For example, the Houston Police Department has a strict policy on gear; an officer cannot safely lock up their uniform and gear (including their gun or badge) in a public gym locker, which are prone to break-ins. Additionally, officers should not lock their gear up in their personal vehicle, for the same reason.

“Because of this situation, it means that an off duty officer may have to drive 20+ minutes to get home, change clothes, drop their items off, and then drive to the gym to workout. Having a great gym at the station allows them to use their work lockers,” explained Captain Bellamy. “If we can eliminate [the detour and the issue with safely locking up their gear], it gives officers peace of mind. It’s safer. Working out is something all officers should be doing, but it’s not mandated except for the Tag Team.”

Will more officers at the South Gessner station be working out regularly? “I think so,” says Bellamy. “Some of the new equipment is installed and there is an uptick in cardio already. […] We’ll also have more diverse equipment that work on every part of the body, which is something officers had requested. There is a lot of excitement. The new weight machines will be plate loaded so there isn’t a need for a spotter.”

Does this mean working out will be expected? Bellamy tells us it isn’t a Houston Police Department policy but it’s something all police officers should include in their daily life, for endurance on the job and stress relief. Personal wellness shouldn’t be overlooked. “There isn’t an excuse to not use the gym now, and I think more officers will get in better shape. We can include their workout progress in their performance reviews and include fitness goals.”

Story by Taylor Dodge