• From the Field with Travis Ireland
    For the last 14 years, Travis R. Ireland has managed the Physical Fitness Program for the Los Alamos National Laboratory Protective Force. He has implemented several successful programmatic improvements with the most recent being a Sports Medicine Program for the Protective Force.
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  • From the Field BannerFrom the Field | Travis IrelandTravis Ireland, MS, CSCSFor the last 14 years, Travis R. Ireland has managed the Physical Fitness Program for the Los Alamos National Laboratory Protective Force. He has implemented several successful programmatic improvements with the most recent being a Sports Medicine Program for the Protective Force. 

    He has earned certifications from the NATA, NSCA, ACSM, and FMS, and holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from the University of Memphis, and a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from New Mexico State University. He currently serves on the Editorial Review Panel for the TSAC Report.

    1. What tactical population do you currently work with?

    A paramilitary tactical response force that is highly trained and well-equipped to protect nuclear weapons and materials following mandates from the Department of Energy.

    2. How did you get started in the TSAC (Tactical Strength and Conditioning) field?

    Over the last 14 years, my primary job task has been to ensure that each Protective Force employee meets their annual mandated physical fitness standard. However, additional tasks have evolved that include development and implementation of specific physical fitness conditioning regimens that address the annual standard and daily job tasks for the Protective Force.

    3. What resources do you utilize for continuing education? Are there any sources you would recommend staying away from?

    Attend one national conference (NSCA, NATA, or ACSM) per year. The TSAC Conference has become my primary CEU preference as the overall scope best matches my current work environment. On occasion, an additional specialty course/class is taken that is specific to our current program goals.

    It depends on current CEU budgets. It is apparent that a growing percentage of organizations or companies are cutting back on CEU reimbursement. In these cases it is difficult to be selective with CEU sources as many exercise professionals are paying out of pocket. My personal preference would be a conference in order to benchmark, share ideas, and learn in person.

    4. If you where hiring someone in your field, what would you look for?

    Knowledge and confidence. Degrees and certifications are obviously an important aspect to determine what background a new-hire has, although, how the knowledge is utilized is of greater importance. Having the confidence to make an educated decision is just as important as it is to have the confidence to know what your limitations are. I have found too many individuals have never learned or have forgotten the scope of their practice.

    5. Please describe the regular duties included in your position?

    Manage the Physical Fitness Program for approximately 300 Protective Force employees. This includes administration of mandated physical fitness standards and remedial exercise programming for those in need. In addition, a sports medicine program was implemented to offer athletic training services to address on-the-job and personal injuries to expedite a safe return to work.

    6. What are the two most important things you have learned; that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?

    1) Educate your employer early and often: atypical work environments often require an education campaign to develop an understanding of basic exercise prescription in order to achieve program goals; and 2) Collect data… then collect some more. Be prepared at a moment’s notice to provide data that supports your program mission. Simple data that demonstrates projected fitness level outcomes has proven to be invaluable for program enhancement.

    7. What recommendations would you give someone who is looking to start a career in TSAC?

    The words “tactical strength and conditioning” are just beginning to open the door to a multitude of professions that don’t exactly fit into specific categories such as military, police, and fire/rescue. If you have the opportunity to work with a tactical population that is atypical, take advantage of the TSAC Program to help develop your program. TSAC has several resources to assist you in your endeavor.

    8. What do you believe are the top three physical requirements for this population that must be addressed in a proper TSAC program?

    1) Core strength; 2) Power; and 3) Core strength. I listed core strength twice as it is the primary root cause of issues with the population I work with. Like most well-rounded programs, speed, agility, coordination, and endurance are also addressed.

    9. What steps do you go through when writing a program for the population you work with?

    1) Initial evaluation to determine path. The Functional Movement Screen has been outstanding to determine asymmetrical issues and goals; 2) Job specific testing: aerobic and anaerobic; 3) Application of exercise prescription; and 4) Retest to determine improvement, return-to-work, etc.

    10. What are some critical factors in getting tactical athletes to buy into a strength and conditioning program?

    Educate with specific details on why each exercise will benefit the employee. Sounds simple enough; however, once the employee feels improvement, immediate trust is established and the employee will not hesitate to come back. In addition, word-of-mouth becomes an advantage for those who may be apprehensive to seek your assistance..
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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