Three Waxahachie Firefighters are taking the challenge to live a healthy lifestyle for the next 12 weeks. Don Alexander, Jason Eubanks and Derrick Crews are taking part in the 911 Fitness Challenge.

“This is the fifth year that we are doing the 9-1-1 Fitness Challenge. The proceeds from the challenge go to help Shriner’s Hospitals for Children,” Alexander said. “This is the first year that Derek has done it. Jason and I have done it the previous four years. The highest that we have got is fourth in the region.”

The fitness challenge is open to active retired police, firefighters, paramedics, EMS, military personal, corrections officers, nurses, physicians and their spouse. The competition is open to civilians who work for 911 agencies and support staff of first responder agencies. Teams competing in the competition are from both the United States and Canada. Each team is made up of three to five members.

Alexander said the challenge is not about starving yourself to lose weight is. It is about total fitness. The goal is not only to lose weight but also to gain muscle in the process. Teams who lose muscle are disqualified.

The firefighters are working with local trainer Daniel Ortiz who is acting as a coach during the 12-week challenge. Ortiz is providing the team with information on how they can eat properly and how to make their workout more effective. When the challenge started on Jan. 6 Ortiz conducted the weight in and the three site skin fold measurement. Every 30 days the team is going to be doing a progress check to see what steps they need to make and where they need to go.

“We are motivated and we are trying some different things this year. Trying a different kind of high intensity weight training, changing up the diet and adding some more cardio. It is just little things that we are tweaking,” Alexander said. “The challenge is one way of holding each other accountable and getting in shape. The diet is by far the toughest part.”

Over the 12 weeks the team is cutting carbs from their diets and reframing from eating out. Eating out presents its own set of challenges makes it difficult to eat extremely clean, Alexander said.

Firefighters are working out twice a day. Some of the firefighters are working out before the go on shift at 4:30-5 a.m. at the stations fitness room. While not on duty the firefighters work out on their own at their personal gym. The winning team who has the best average score for the most weight lost and muscle gained will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize. The challenge ends on April 7.