It’s August and time for another Member of the Month feature. This monthly feature highlights some of our more exceptional members who are doing great things in sport, the community and life. Click here to see previous members of the month. This month’s member of the month is Bruce Dale. Bruce is a long time member of Athletic Lab who helps make Cary one of the safest communities in the US as a Sargent in the Cary Police Department. As an athlete, he has conquered some of the most grueling endurance challenges in North America and had multiple top finishes at the World Police & Fire Games.
Name: Bruce Dale
What city were you born in? Sharon, PA
What do you do when you’re not working out at Athletic Lab (occupation, hobbies, etc)?
I work for the Town of Cary Police Department and I have for the past 23 years. With the typical public safety work schedule, I try to just get the most out of my time off as I can. My wife and I travel as much as possible to our second home in the mountains, especially in the fall. My other primary sport is mountain biking and depending on my training goals or upcoming events, I tend to increase or decrease my bike rides. I like to try and fit in as many different types of competitions as I can since they serve as a goal to keeping my fitness on track.
My wife and I are both big college basketball fans, particularly Carolina and WVU, so that always plays into our day to day schedules during those seasons. We also have a Senior at ECU, so we try to get out there on weekends as much as possible.
Aside from my regular work duties, I’m an instructor which depending on training schedules, keeps me busy teaching TASER and Combative courses.
How did you first hear about Athletic Lab? Our town wellness coordinator had a connection to Athletic Lab and shortly after Athletic Lab opened, a group of our Police Fitness Instructors were put into a train-the-trainer program under Mike. I was fortunate enough to be involved in it and that was really my first introduction to CrossFit and workout programming. After the trainer program ended, most of us then joined The Lab. Looking back, that has to have been 5 or 6 years ago.
Favorite class/time to workout? I really enjoy the endurance classes. They fit more into my needs as an athlete and contribute more to success in my races etc. My workout schedule and times vary greatly as a result of my rotating work schedule. It gets tough to manage sometimes and just has to be a priority.
What’s your favorite exercise? Least favorite? Quite frankly, I just like to run and ride bike. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s comfortable for me, even when under time constraints of the workout, etc. My least favorite, and I’m sure a lot of people will agree, is the Thruster.
You compete in a lot of grueling competitions. Would you mind sharing a bit about the one that stands out the most to you?
I’ve done so many of them over the years, they do start to blend together, but to me that’s the point really. It’s all a mix of experiences, some good, some bad. That just keeps you chasing that effort. Case in point, it’s not really always the good times that stick out.
The one that stands out to me the most was from the Endorphin Fix 3 day Adventure Race in WV and I guess that was in 2000. We were on a terribly hilly mountain bike leg and it was cold. I mean probably low to mid 20’s and my rear tire flatted for some reason. We pulled over to the side of the road and replaced the tube and then used our CO2 cartridge inflator to get the tire back up to pressure. However, due to the low temps and the cold CO2, it simply froze the entire inflator and everything into a big ball of ice stuck to the wheel. After some cursing and trouble shooting, we determined our only option was to melt the ice by peeing on the tire. It worked well and ended up turning a bad situation into hilarity.
That same race was the one when we pulled into a campground to try and melt our iced-up camelbacks at about 3am. We pulled up to a still glowing fire and sat down to warm up. Apparently, the owner of the nearby tent was not too happy and yelled out of the tent that he was armed and warned us to leave. After some rapid explaining of our good intentions, he was sympathetic and let us stay at his campsite to warm up. We went on to finish in around 29 hours, so it all worked out in the end.
The bottom line as a Police Officer is simple; it’s a dangerous job, look at the headlines recently. I have to do everything I possibly can to mitigate a tragic event and a big portion of that is fitness. Working out builds mental toughness and resilience. Resilience is key to winning a confrontation. Officers that ignore this are just rolling the dice that nothing bad is ever going to happen to them and so they take their chances. I have family and friends that rely on me to do everything I possibly can to survive a deadly encounter. Doing otherwise, I’m failing them.
CrossFit prepares you for the “known and the unknowable” and the job of an officer is just that. No matter where you work, that worst case scenario might come and you have to have the physical tools and mentality to deal with it. Dealing with adversity in training better equips you to deal with it on the job or with life in general. It gives you the mindset that no matter how hard things get, you’ve been through worse.
What motivates you?
To me, it’s never resting on your laurels. Take the time to acknowledge your success, but then move on. I never want to be that guy who spends his lunch break talking about scoring touchdowns in high school. It’s really about consistently testing and pushing yourself and as you get older making adjustments to your goals.