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DV Pilot Police & Fire

Fit Cops: Officers Train Like Pro Athletes At Fair Lawn Parisi Speed School

Wood-Ridge's Jeff Geisler deadlifts at the Parisi Speed School. Behind him are Paramus' Glenn Pagano and River Vale's Frank Saraceni, recently retired. Geisler was the first of the police officers to join TFW. Then slowly, more followed suit. Photo Credit: Contributed
"Being in shape is a lifestyle that I've chosen so that I'm not the victim," said Wood-Ridge's Mike Mueller, "but I can help people who are." Photo Credit: Mike Meuller
Training For Warriors members from left: Jeff Geisler, Frank Saraceni, Mark Glantschnig and Glenn Pagano. Photo Credit: Contributed
Paramus Patrol Sergeant Mike Kelly is the newest police officer to join The Parisi School's TFW program. He's done CrossFit, boot camp and many other types of workouts. While he's only a few weeks in, he says TFW pushes him in entirely new ways. Photo Credit: Mike Kelly
Paramus' Mike Kelly, left, says colleague Glenn Pagano, right, encouraged him to join TFW. Photo Credit: Mike Kelly
Parisi School owner Rich Sadiv says sprints are an integral part of TFW workouts (well, any workouts!) specifically benefitting police officers who might have to chase a suspect or run in short bursts. Photo Credit: Contributed

Several times each week, a group of eight law enforcers converge on the track inside of the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn.

It's well before the sun has risen and some are only a workout away from a shift.

The common thread is that they're all here voluntarily -- ready to put in work.

All of the officers participate in a program launched more than two decades ago at the Parisi Speed School.

The Training For Warriors (TFW) incorporates sprints around the indoor track in between sets of various upper and lower body exercises -- heavy.

The officers in the program are Wood-Ridge's Jeff Geisler and Mike Mueller, Paramus Police Department's Glenn Pagano, Mark Glantschnig and Mike Kelly, River Vale's Frank Saraceni (recently retired) and several others from Bergen County. 

Parisi owner Rich Sadiv says the workout isn't far from the ones he has given to professional athletes, his philosophy being that he trains everyone the same.

That's why TFW, launched more than two decades ago, isn't just limited to police officers -- it's for anyone who wants to get in better shape.

Sadiv says the sprinting component is integral no matter if you're a stay at home mom or NFL linebacker profession -- and has its benefits specifically in policing.

"People don't run, they sprint," Sadiv said. "No one is going out on five-mile jaunts. If you chase someone on foot, it won't be too long of a difference.

"Anyone in law enforcement will tell you that."

Wood-Ridge's Geisler can. He was the first of the officers to start TFW, then he told fellow officer Mueller, who told his friends, and so on and so forth.

But Geisler has firsthand experience reaping the benefits of TFW. He recalled an incident from 2015 when he was just a year-and-a-half into the program.

He was trying to find a suspect when his patrol car died.

"I was at the bottom of a hill and I saw him half-a-block behind me coming out from behind a house," Geisler said. 

"I went to turn my car on and it wouldn't start. I saw him turn a corner and there was nothing I could do, so I ran."

Uphill for just more than a block and into the woods.

It didn't take long for Geisler to catch up and safely apprehend the suspect.

"If I wasn't in TFW, maybe I would have caught him, maybe I would not have," the officer said. "I would have had a much tougher time, though."

Paramus' Kelly is the newest TFW member. After hearing colleague Pagano talk about the program for months, he joined three weeks ago.

"I've done the regular gyms, CrossFit, boot camp classes," said Kelly, a lifelong athlete. "TFW has brought me to a whole new level of working out pushing myself. I credit this to the instructor and coach Rich Sadiv."

"Not only does he put you through an incredible workout that pushes your body beyond what you thought they were capable of, but he provides inspiration in talking to the group after class."

Wood-Ridge's Mueller was working as a teacher during 9/11 when he felt compelled to protect his country. That's when he joined the Maryland National Guard 20th Special Forces Group, later going on to become a U.S. Federal Air Marshal.

He was able to return to teaching while in the National Guard, coaching collegiate soccer and basketball in the evenings.

Now, he's a police officer, Bergen County Regional SWAT Team member and a father just looking to stay in shape.

"Being in shape is a lifestyle that I've chosen so that I'm not the victim," he said, "but I can help people who are."

Mueller's favorite part of TFW is having the program made for him, so all he has to do is show up, and perform.

"Because of coaching and then going to the gym on my own, I would have to sit down and take time to write workouts for the athletes and then for myself," he said. "Now I'm training like an athlete again.

"My focus is to do the best I can on everything I put in front of me. I'm not competing with everyone there, but we are all supportive.

"We really enjoy watching each other succeed."

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