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PODCAST: Cultivating Fitness with Troy Torrence

Updated: Apr 5


Troy Torrence on Cultivating Physical Fitness and Resilience speaking with John MacAdams.


Health Management Specialist and Fitness Expert Troy Torrence, MS, CSCS*D talks about his work in supporting the health and wellness of both sworn and civilian Indiana State Police personnel and the strength and conditioning training he does with recruits at the Indiana State Police Academy.


Foundational movement exercises used with state police recruits.. skipping, bounding and jumping.. and their relationship to the eye-hand coordination and physical abilities and skills needed by state troopers for tactical performance. Physiology, cardiovascular and breathwork training for new state trooper recruits. The importance of basic mindfulness training in preparing recruits for effective self-regulation and optimal mind-body performance.


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Transcript


John MacAdams: 

Welcome and thanks for joining us for the Global First Responder Resilience Summit. I'm here  with Troy Torrance. Hi Troy. Great to have you. 


Troy Torrance: 

Good day. 


John MacAdams: 

Troy has been with the Indiana State Police Department as their health management specialist  since 2000, where he manages the health and wellness of their employees, both sworn and  civilian. He is also the strength and conditioning coach for the Indiana State Police Recruit  Academy, training the future of their agency in physical and mental resilience. Troy, I'm really  excited to have you with us today. We're going to dig deep into your expertise as a trainer for  law enforcement. 


Troy Torrance: 

I'm excited. 


John MacAdams: 

So, you literally have decades of experience. You are highly skilled as a physical fitness trainer.  We're going to get into a number of the specifics of your techniques, approaches, and desired  outcomes in the realm of strength, fitness, agility, efficient movement, nutrition, hydration,  recovery, and other determiners of high functioning, physically fit law enforcement officers. 


Troy, along with your expertise as a physical fitness trainer, you're also an innovator.  You've been researching, developing, and bringing more than physical training to your recruits.  You've been integrating additional ancillary training and skills building to support and develop  more resilient officers. You're training breath work, healthy positive habit-forming strategies,  mindfulness, self-regulation, and a general orientation towards self-care and wellness. 


This is the aspect of your work that we really see as the secret sauce you're bringing to  the academy. We're going to take time to hear about your inspirations, your personal  experiences with these skills, your experimentations, developments, and look at specific implementations within your training regime. We're also going to hear about the support  you're receiving from your agency that has allowed and promoted these developments. 


To start off, I'm going to put you on the spot here just a bit. I want to ask you to share  with our audience one of the most effective or highest impact assets building skills that you're  training your recruits in on the first day, the first day they meet you and they come in for their  first PT session, when they're fresh. 


Troy Torrance: 

The biggest thing that we do is I bring them back to kind of like their third-grade physical  training. We bring them in and my first goal is to just test our athletes. We call them athletes  because obviously our police officer is trying to train them like athletes because they're going  to become an athlete out there on the road. We train them in basic skipping, bounding,  hopping, and just basic bio motor skills. 


It's quite amazing over the last, probably 15 years since we've implemented that in a  very beginning is to see how well a student coming into the academy actually knows where  they are in space. So, just their cognitive awareness of how they move through space. It's quite  amazing how many of the kids that do come through, or the gentlemen and ladies that do  come through, do have some issues with the basic fundamental skills of skipping, let alone  some hopping and bounding. 


Some of it may be that they've never been influenced in that or never played a sport.  Some athletes and students coming in have never seen it and it's pretty fun to test them and  get the giggles out of the class when a few of them can't skip.  


We do notice though also, and we've correlated a little bit, we haven't done deep dive  studies, but those that do come in that have limitations in skipping, bounding, and jumping, do  you have a tendency to have more issues when we do our psychomotor skills, which would be  driving, fighting, and shooting.  


So, there is some correlate there, their ability to move through space. And then again  for their hand-eye coordination and just physical skills with a weapon and with their hands in  what we call control tactics. 


John MacAdams: 

All right. Great. Thanks. So, first day is a good day for them.


Troy Torrance: 

Yes. That and for staff. When we get new staff members, the lieutenant, which is Lieutenant  Hannon, gets a big smile and brings his hand and goes to the new staff like, just wait until you  see Mr. Torrance put the kids through some fun training and they get to come out and go  through it and see it.  


And that's where we get to assess them and just then build a building block in how to  teach them, how to move a little bit better, and the importance of movement. And then the  troopers can correlate that of why it's important with these movements to then go into a law  enforcement skill. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. So, let's take them all. Let us just step back a little bit, get to know you a little bit more.  Tell us if you would, a little bit about just briefly where you grew up, what were your athletic  pursuits as a young person. 


Troy Torrance: 

Yeah. I grew up in Superior, Wisconsin, right off the tip of Lake Superior. Born and raised on  the ice, as I'll say it. Played hockey all my life up until college. Played soccer, tried some  baseball. Didn't really get too much into baseball. It hit me too much with the ball. But then  again, I'm playing a sport where I get hit by a puck because I'm playing a defense man. 


Yeah, I played hockey throughout. Got introduced to weight training from my brother in-law in about the seventh grade. So, once I touched the weights I never looked back. Got into  lifting weights throughout the season. Went to college to become basically corporate wellness  person. Didn't really know what I wanted to do. My sister told me, “Hey, we have corporate  wellness, look into that.” 


Talked to the athletic trainer my senior year of college going, “Oh, now what do I do?” He said, “Well, have you ever thought about becoming a strength coach? There's a certification  called a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach for the National Strength and Conditioning  Association.” I’m like, “Sure, I'll sit through that.” Didn't know that that had a pretty high failure  rate of about 70% because of how intensive it is. Thank goodness I finished my undergrad and  went right into taking the test because a lot of it was based on what we went through in the  undergrad.


So, long story short, got certified in that certification that summer between me going to  graduate school. I applied to only one graduate school. I didn't think I needed to apply to  anymore. Luckily got into the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. So, packed up things, left and  moved there for a year and a half. Got through my graduate studies and moved on. Followed  my fiancée here to Terre Haute, Indiana, where she was for a little bit. And then, she told me  after two months, “You need to get a job.” 


So, I transferred to Indy. Got a corporate wellness job for about nine months. And then, saw an application for the Indiana State Police and applied for the job and put some due  diligence in and called the major about a month after because I haven't heard for an  application. I didn't hear any information. I was a little persistent and asked where everything  was. He said, “Troy Torrance from Wisconsin? I should have seen that paperwork.” 


He called back the next day, this is in 2000. He said, “You've got access to email?” I'm  like, “Yes, sir.” “Send me your resume.” Sent the resume. I got an interview in the next day. So, I  was able to sit through an interview. Sold myself pretty well and been here ever since. Been a  blast. 


John MacAdams: 

That's great Troy. Well, glad to hear you're a hockey player. I'm Canadian so that's in the DNA.  Though I didn't play until I was in my 20s with just scrappy pickup, but that's a heck of a sport. You also have a business with your wife. It's CrossFit. Can you tell us just a little bit about that  business? 


Troy Torrance: 

Yes. In about 2007, I found CrossFit. A gentleman here at the academy actually showed it to  me in 2005, 2006. Tried a couple of workouts, didn't think much of it. And then, kind of go  down the rabbit hole of watching every video on the CrossFit site. Put my wife through one of  the workouts and she was not too happy. Did not like the workout. We were in a bodybuilding.  We did a lot of strength training. So, the traditional biceps, triceps, and lifting. But then when I  found that methodology of CrossFit, I thought it was pretty interesting. 


Talked to my commander and see if we can go out and get certified in it. Myself and  Lieutenant Tom Moore, who is still here at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy on the basic  side, him and I went out to North Carolina to take the level one certification to become certified  with CrossFit.


And then again, dove deep into that and then started utilizing it for the academy in  about '08, '07. And then in '09, decided to open up our own gym with my wife. So, since 2009,  we've been running a gym. First out of our garage for a year. So, the old school way of CrossFit is, build it and see who will come. 


Slowly start teaching people how to lift and move. Moved into a location after a year  for about two and a half years. And then, we've been in our current location for quite some  time since 2013. So, we've been running strong since 2009. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. Well, congratulations on that. That's great. You touched on a couple of points that I  want to circle back on. One is the support that you've been getting. It sounds like from the get go in terms of your supervisors and their willingness to look at alternatives and different  options and to keep you training and learning and growing as an individual and as a trainer. 


Troy Torrance: 

Yes. Our agency has done very well. A lot of it is, if you want training, you obviously have to  ask. I mean, that's the biggest thing I've learned over my career. Anyone getting into this field, being a civilian or as one of my friends and colleagues, Nate Pailin would say, I'm the imposter,  because I'm a civilian and working within a law enforcement agency.  

But I love that role because I'm the outsider kind of looking in and trying to have to figure out what's going on. So, trying to get as much training as possible. And you're going to  be told no. I mean it falls into money at times and we all know that. But you have to have a  thick skin and keep looking for ways to improve the product. We're always trying to better  ourselves.  


Throughout my career, my commanders, I’m thinking off the top of my head, probably  seven different majors that have come through our division, I've worked really well with them.  They've really always had a good foresight on training because that's the division we're in. We  train all of the Indiana State Police law enforcement officers in the academy and in the field. So, for them to allow us for increased training has been immense. It's been totally awesome.  


Throwing the option of, “Hey, can we go to see CrossFit? I'm just trying to get them to  see. Can I get certified in doing this and implement this within the academy? They're like, “Go  for it. Let's see what happens.” And while implementing it in the academy, our recruits, the first year we did it, physically got a lot stronger and their conditioning went way up. Our injury  rates went down in our academy. 


And actually, in our control tactics program, we started actually hurting instructors  more than we were hurting our recruits due to just the physicality that our recruits are able to  endure. So, the resiliency we're able to build up with changing the methodology of how we  were training, getting away from the running, the push-ups, and sit-ups. We're really trying to  challenge them through a different modality of strength and conditioning. 


John MacAdams: 

Okay, great. So, that was something that I wanted to hear from you was when you first came  into ISP, what were you seeing in the training programs that was working well? What were  you seeing in terms of things that you initially saw could be done differently, could be more  effective? 


Troy Torrance: 

When I first came on my job being the health management specialist, which was limited at the  academy, at first it was just coming out and doing body fat composition and doing some  nutrition and not seeing much of what the actual officers did. I'm the third in line in my position.  There were two others prior to me, which started this position in 1989. 

At the academy, through 2000 to 2001 I was just coming out a couple of times to the  academy. And then one training session, I went out to Ohio with the actual First Sergeant, Gary  Dudley to Ohio for a training to perform better. We talked. I got to know him, he got to know  me. I mean, I knew of him at the academy, but sitting in a car for over two and a half hours, you  get to really dive deep into people and get to know them. 


And then, he started quizzing me. Typical police officer will do kind of see what's going  on. And then he's like, “You're a strength coach. You have a strength background. You have all  of this knowledge.” He said, “Why aren't you at the academy training our officers?” I'm like, “I  didn't know I could.” “That's why I want you out here.” 


So, Gary Dudley is the one that really allowed me to come out and then I could sit in  the back and watch him lead from the front, and then he would call me up front on stage. So, I  would start to break down what the officers were doing and what the recruits were doing. And  it took some years to really look at everything that these officers have to do from driving a car,  to control tactics or what’s used to be called defensive tactics. It's just the ground fighting that they have to manage and moving a body and maintaining their built. Also, the cognitive  training of getting on the range and understanding time, shooting a weapon and just  everything that goes into those officers and trying to get them in shape.  


Seeing the previous program of just kind of making it up on the fly, not really having a  linear type program or even a mesocycle training, we were able to look at it and start to break  it down and add new things to it. So, each year we would constantly look at the program and  try to add new things and try to get equipment.  


The big limiting factor that we'd always have would be equipment at the academy, just  because our size of 40 to 60 recruits. The basics would have anywhere from 100 to 140, and  there's one gym at a very small weight room. So, there was really no equipment to be had in  probably the first six to eight years in the academy. 


John MacAdams: 

What was your thinking on officer resilience at that point, when you were just getting started  this way? 


Troy Torrance: 

To be honest, I didn't know much about it without just normal stress management and going  through just strength training. My job in the beginning was really to dive in and make these  guys and girls as strong as possible and as conditioned as possible.  


Yes, we were building resiliency, but it was more from a physiological and strength  based. I was missing that cognitive base aspect. So,, probably within the last 10 years of my  career, that's something that going to the NSCA or the National Strength and Conditioning  Association, going to national conferences and going to the Tactical Strength Conferences,  starting to really understand and doing more and more research, you're seeing that, trying to  also build that whole holistic aspect of the officer, the stress that they're going to have to see,  the amount of stress that they deal with day in and day out with shift change, sleep  deprivation, long schedules. Just the officer's not able to sleep, injury rates, just getting hurt on  the job because I start to see a lot of that paperwork that comes through also being the health  specialist. 


So, getting our troopers back to duty. Seeing them when they do get injured either on  or off duty. So, just seeing the whole toll that the job takes on an officer. Being able to start to  really look and now add that into the programming has really changed our training.


John MacAdams: 

In terms of where you're at now, where you're looking at officer resilience and looking at  overall self-care and wellness for officers, where do you see yourself now? I'm going to ask  you to start getting into some specifics and really see where you've had your own research and  your own experience with some of these different skills and some of these different types of  trainings and where you're seeing that being effective for officers. 


Troy Torrance: 

When we look at the officers and look at the training, we've always added and subtracted as  needed. Some things you'll find that do work, some things that don't work. It can be from a  strength training perspective as we all make mistakes in training.  


I remember one early on in my career of teaching the kids how to crossover step and  bringing the feet close together on some of the movements I grew trained football players and  other things, but in a law enforcement perspective, bringing the feet together can become an  issue for a police officer. Crossing the feet over on a stop, they can trip and fall. So, we're  looking from an officer safety. 


We're really getting in and sitting down with my control tactics instructors, which  would be the subject matter experts that actually do all of the training. And actually, then also  sitting through class with our recruits and actually seeing what they have to do day in and day  out and the amount of repetitions that need to be done. You can kind of reverse engineer some  of those things within the strength and conditioning, and then just some mental and cognitive based training that we're slowly implementing. 


John MacAdams: 

So, let's talk about breaths. Let's talk about breath work. 


Troy Torrance: 

Breath work. As we know, and as we started, especially in this class, our mantra is if you don't  control your breath, your breath will control you. So, really trying to teach them and think  about the breath and the autonomic system. Some of us know it, some of us dive deep.  


When I went to graduate school, I didn't really dive much into breathing. It's like, hey,  you breathe. You breathe through your nose. You breathe through your mouth. We're really  looking in, and probably the last four to five years, I've been really looking at how can our officers understand their breath. They're told combat breathing. They're taught some combat  breathing in the academy, but I don't know at the time early on if we really pushed it and  trained it more than just in a couple of classes. 


The thing that we and myself had started to implement is adding that talk of breath  and what it can do for you early in the academy. So, I get them in week one and two. One is on  nutrition, but two, I really start to get into just what happens from a physiological state with  your breath.  


And then, there is a stress management course taught. They obviously talk about the  autonomic nervous system and what happens with the body and stress. I don't teach that class  but one of our psychologists do come in. I've sat through the class and they really also dive  deep into the breathing aspect.  


And then also, another psychologists will come in and teach basic psychology. And  again, it's reiterated, understanding your breath you can actually understand your body and what is happening internally on it and not just breathe hard and go into a panic state. 


John MacAdams: 

And so, in terms of breath regulation skills, you talked about the box breathing. That for an  equal duration of breathing in, pausing, breathing out, pausing, and having that cycle go  through. How are they connecting with that? What other breathing techniques are you  specifically working with them? 


Troy Torrance: 

Yes, they're connecting pretty well with the box breathing. We've added a bunch of the straw  breath, which makes it a little bit easier for them to understand how to bring that breath back  under control.  


So, breathing in through the nose, which we really have pushed the last two years of  understanding why we want our athletes or our recruits to breathe through their nose. One, to  calm down ourself a little bit easier, to create a little bit of nitric oxide to help calm the system  down, but also, it'll help you slow down the breath in that nice, slow in and then slow breath  through the mouth. Trying to teach them to double the out-breath if they're doing it. We also  add that into when they come in from any cardiovascular training. So, when they run outside,  maybe a 200 meter and come in, we're trying to focus them to get back into their nasal breath  as quickly as possible.


They may have to go in through the nose, out through the mouth, but how soon can we  just stay in the nose and stay nasal breathing? So, we do add some of our training also to have  them just breathe through their nose. So, we really add another stressful component early on  in our training. Usually in the first month of training where they've done some basic wind  sprints, they'll do some drills and then the next day I'll come out and we'll do the same style,  but then I give them the caveat. “I don't want to hear you talk, and I don't want to see your  mouth move. You can only breathe through your nose.” 


That's an automatic regulator for the recruits because you can only push yourself so  hard if you're only breathing through your nose. It's an automatic way for them and for me to  also govern or regulate how fast and how far they can push themselves. 


John MacAdams: 

Tell us, what are the advantages to this type of regulation? 


Troy Torrance: 

From the nasal breathing, studies will show and even from what our little analytical stuff of  what we're finding is just their ability to stay more calm in their mind. Because once we  become just a mouth breather and only breathe through our mouth, we are becoming  anaerobic, without oxygen. They’re just straight breathing. They're sloughing CO2, and their  stress level is starting to rise too high. So, if I can keep them in their nose longer, I'm able to  keep them more in the aerobic system or their ability to use oxygen better.  

In the very beginning, and we will announce that to our recruits, “Your first two to three  weeks of focusing on nasal breath is very difficult because your body is not used to it.” One,  your mental stress is going to increase. And even your respiratory rate will have a little bit of  an issue because we have to get the body to switch over and utilize that little bit less air  coming in per se, but you do get about 10% more extraction of oxygen if you do utilize your  nose into the muscle cell and into the mitochondria. 


Your body's able to adapt to it. I can tell you from personal experience, it does not feel  like you're adapting to it. You're always in your mind freaking out because of the way you feel  like you're not getting enough oxygen. But if you can calm your mind and stay in the moment,  which is a big key of what we're trying to teach with that type of breath control is to still cognitively think and be aware of your surroundings and not just, as we say, burn the ships and  go as hard as you can.


We want to keep them in a regulated position through that nasal breath. And if we  have to, we want to run through some gears of breathing through the nose. So basically, through Brian McKenzie and the art of breath. Their big key is looking at starting in the nose  and then increasing the reps or speeds through the nose.  


And then, working to the point where you're in through the nose, out through the  mouth. That's getting the tail end of being in your aerobic system. And then, final bit is maybe  last round you're doing or to close the sprint is then just mouth breathe, and just go at it for  probably your last minute. 


If you're doing mouth breathing from the get-go, you're having a tendency to burn out a  little quickly, you may burn out all your muscle and just fatigue a little bit, and also mentally  fatigue quicker. 


John MacAdams: 

Yeah. And you mentioned nitric oxide and how those nitric oxide is generated through the nose  and how that can actually help transmit the gas with the oxygen from the blood into the  muscles.  


So, we're working with physiological regulation. How is that impacting officer's state of  mind, their emotional regulation, their cognitive? You're talking obviously about situational  awareness. How does that all tie together? 


Troy Torrance: 

Yeah. The big thing is we know. If you start to lose your breath or you start to panic or feel anxiety, we already know that our heart rate is increasing. As we know, also on a rating scale,  if your heart rate gets high enough, 120 to 150 beats, somewhere in that aspect, your fine  motor skills are going to start to dissipate. It doesn't necessarily mean your respiratory rate  increases super high when a high heart rate comes in because it is an adrenaline dump. And  the other hormones that may come in due to a stressful situation. 

So, it's not just you're breathing hard. You may notice it. You're taking a few deep  breaths and you can see the chest change, and you're starting to be an upper chest breather,  but now your heart rates going 100 miles an hour due to the adrenaline or the stress. Trying to  get them to one, understand that feeling or actually notice that feeling and then trying to get them back to their nose and slow that breath down can start to regulate and bring that heart  rate back down. 


If our officers get our heart rate's too high, those fine motor skills dissipate and we get  to the point, we get to fight or flight when we're hitting that 170, 180, 200. Let's peg the meter  and run it through a wall. You're going to get to the point. Our gross motor skill just  hammering on the ground, there's not going to be much going on. Cognitive based thinking is  gone, you're very tunnel vision, then you're going to have some possible issues. 

So, the more that an officer can regulate their breath and understand when it's starting  to elevate just due to stress and that does not mean just physiological that I'm chasing a  suspect or fighting, but just that instant adrenaline dump of knowing how to maybe slow it  down through a little bit of breath work can help. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. And then, you also touched into sort of one of the foundational aspects of mindfulness  that we talked about earlier that you're also working with. Just the ability to recognize what's  going on.  


“Oh, I know what that feels like with adrenaline and cortisol pumping through my  veins.” “I know what an adrenaline rush feels like and therefore, oh yeah, well, my heart rate's  gone up, my breathing rate's gone up, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” It's going to lead to these  cognitive and emotional situations. So, tell us about your work with mindfulness or how you're  even presenting that in a way that is acceptable or accessible to your recruits there in Indiana. 


Troy Torrance: 

Yes. So, we're currently in the 81st Recruit Academy and the 80th Recruit Academy right  before the shutdown of COVID. Our recruits were stuck at home. We hired them in May and  they were stuck until July basically before we could bring them into the academy. We were  trying to find things for them to do from a work perspective.  


In my time, I started diving into some different apps for mindfulness, even for myself,  just to start to really kind of dive deep into different applications and things that could possibly  help. So, I found a Headspace and started playing with that and a few other launch calls and  then a few others that just give us an option to see some things and some guided meditation. 


I forwarded that through my chain of command to my commander. I asked, “Can I give  the recruits a homework assignment? They're like, “Oh yeah. Well, they need a homework  assignment.” I’m like, “Perfect. Well, guess who also gets it? The academy staff.” So, I also  assigned that to the lieutenants and all of our counselors that do come to the academy that  also worked there with the recruits. 

 

What they were given was a free 10 session. They didn't have to do anything but sign  up on the Headspace app. Just use an email address. Don't pay for anything. The department  won't pay for it right now. But I just want to see you do the first 10 sessions. And all they need  to do is write me a 500-word essay on what their experience was when completing all 10  sessions. It was pretty interesting to get the information back from most of the recruiters  reading through it. 


Some loved it. Some disliked it. Most from the very beginning, didn't understand why  they were being assigned this. But usually around the fourth or fifth session of the  mindfulness, they actually started to understand what mindfulness was and how much their  brain actually moves. And it's talking to you or just trying to sit very quietly and peacefully,  which most, especially during that time of COVID, most of us are probably under a lot of  stress, which I know I was of just being home. But just the ability to sit and understand what is  going on in your mind and that it is absolutely normal for the mind to wander. And to  understand things will come up, but just understand that you can mitigate a little bit through  breath control, a little bit of it, just not worrying that thoughts come in, they're going to come in  and just trying to slow all of that information down. So, really starting to push that.  


And then the 81st academy, which we're currently in and we're in week seven, they too  also got that same assignment, and were able to push through and give them the basics  before coming to the academy. They get a slight exposure to mindfulness on their own without  any instruction besides download the app and listen. And then, we started diving into your  physical training when I get them during training and then also during classroom time when I  do have that option. So, they start to see these terms and hear these terms one through me,  and then also our psychologist that comes in to teach. So, it's not foreign to them. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. Will you share with our audience a couple of these terms or the ways that you're  incorporating in specifically with your strength and conditioning training?


Troy Torrance: 

Yes. For us and with a little bit of mindfulness is we sit down or I will sit down and usually I  always have my troopers in with me. When I say troopers, all the staff members that are our  counselors, our troopers from the road, and they come in and also are there to train. I'm the  subject matter expert, obviously, in strength conditioning. They are the troopers. I will state  how this could possibly help within their career. Could be of just self-regulation,  understanding the thoughts, mental visualization, which we talk about in sports of sitting  down before the game, see yourself scoring the goal. Same exact thing before you take a test.  See yourself completing the test, not stressing out about it. 


And then also, when you start to get into more of our skills that we're going to layer on  top of each other in training, vehicle stops, vehicle pursuits, having those officers or counselors  there to then reiterate the training that you're getting now is going to help further down and  build a building block of training as you get through these 22 to 25 weeks of training. 


Currently, we're seven weeks in. They're just scratching the surface. We haven't really  done much beyond classroom or from traffic law. But adding that mindfulness of  understanding the stress of having to pass tests, getting through cleaning their rooms,  constantly being looked over from the staff members on uniform training. So, just the amount  of stress they're under with counselors yelling at them, looking at their uniform, is their shirt  correct? Is their tie on right? Is their belt buckle on? Are you missing a belt loop? Just little  stress that we can add is quite amazing through just minimal strength training of just the  counselors coming in uniform and just, “You got three minutes to get upstairs. Get changed. Get back downstairs.” and just seeing the panic.  


And then, doing debriefs, which is very formative in law enforcement of debriefing after  something. So, after we get done training, we will sit down with our recruits and do a short  debrief, or at least I will with them to ask them questions and also post questions back to  them. “Did you see when you got stressed out? Did you understand when your heart rate got high?” Some of them are still like, “I have no clue. I'm freaking out. I'm panicking.” 

And then starting to look at those recruits and then starting to dive a little bit more into  mindfulness for them. Some officers do come to our academy and have had prior law  enforcement training or have been a previous police officer so they come with some skills, but  then just trying to meet them where they are each time and explain how mindfulness can help  in those situations though, short timeframe. Keep your mind clear, stay on task, and do the  little things.


John MacAdams: 

Those are skills. Those are great skills. I'm going to ask you. How do you actually train specific  skills? Do you have guided practices that you do? Do you play recordings that you think are  effective or when you're in the room there with them person to person? 


Troy Torrance: 

For us, yes. This class is early. We haven't done much guided work. We'll do a little bit of  straw breath. So, basically me sitting up in front of class and we'll just teach them what the  straw breathing is with me just demoing. Breathe in. Two, three. And breathe out, counting to  six. So, starting to teach them to get on a rhythm. 


As we start to progress a little bit further into class, which would be probably about  week 10, is when we'll add some more guided mindfulness. So, we'll add some pranayama.  We have an easy app. It's a free app that we can just play over the boom box that we have in  the big gym. We'll just take 20 minutes, maybe even 10 minutes at the tail end of class and  say, “All right. Everybody, grab your shoes. Lay up against the wall. We're going to do a little  bit of breathing work.” Or we may just put them in the pool area, which is another nice calm  room that's really dark. It's really a kind of a very dark room for them. We'll just go in there and  I'll have them work on belly breathing. 


So, teaching them how to use diaphragmatic breath. I know some don't like the term  belly breathing, but we're using that term of not being a chest breather. An officer being in  uniform has a tendency to breathe upper chest because of the constriction. Our recruits wear  their vest every single day so they're wearing it in class. So, teaching them how to self regulate and also down-regulate after class is one that we're really starting to push in our  strength and conditioning programming. And then, just at the end of each evening of taking at  least two to five minutes and just come back to your breath and try to come back to center. 


Also, with the apps that we do use, I send emails out to the recruits with all of the apps  that they can utilize and the ones that we're using in class. And then, also as much information  as I can to share with them. And all of this also goes to our academy staff so they can view  everything that's going to the recruits. And then they can get quizzed on it in the chow line and  things of that nature so we can ask them questions and quiz questions on mindfulness. We ask  them about the autonomic nervous system. Are they retaining information? We work on breath work and breath control through diaphragmatic breathing so we  hold them in the front lane or plank position as most would have call it on their elbows. Then, they have to call cadence. So, force them to work a little bit. Maybe run. Come back in. And  then, get into a breath pattern and call cadence and use diaphragmatic breathing and simulate  that and explain how that could carry over to when you're chasing down a violator, having to  handcuff them, and key up on the radio and be able to hold diaphragm and use the breath and  get your breath under control in that scenario. 


So, starting with, again, building that nice base of simple knowledge. And then, as the  subject matter experts teach their skills and control tactics and firearms, they've now heard it  in strength and conditioning training. 


John MacAdams: 

It's building throughout their time in the academy, throughout their skills training. 


Troy Torrance: 

Most definitely. 


John MacAdams: 

Yeah. Well, it sounds pretty bold to me, to be honest with you Troy, when I hear that you've  sent not only recruits, but also the staff a 500-word essay project and listening to some crazy  mindfulness app. What's the response? 


Troy Torrance: 

I really didn't know what kind of response I would get. One, obviously a little bit of  nervousness, not knowing what we would get out of it, but I knew through my own experience  of just how much it did help me to just understand when either anger or stress or just  something's going to come up, how much it could help in knowing already that the first day of  the academy, which we call Blue Sunday is going to be one of the most stressful days for the  recruits. 


You're going to have 10 troopers standing there in full uniform, looking them over,  stressing them to the guilds. The kids have no concept. Most of them have never been told  what to do and where to be. Their stress is going to go from zero to 1,000. Just hopefully  giving them a little bit of knowledge in that can help.


And then, seeing the papers and reading through each one, which is really neat to see  just the light bulb switch on probably about 75% of them understanding that this is something  that could really help them through their career. Just seeing that just prior to coming to the  academy, they were already under a lot of stress and they would write that saying, “I couldn't  believe I got this homework assignment a week before I'm trying to get to the academy. I'm  having to pack my bag, say goodbye to my wife, and this health guy wants me to do a paper  on mindfulness.” 


And then as you get further down into the paragraphs, they're like, “Wow, I didn't know  my mind was really wandering so hard. I didn't know that I can actually start to control my  mind, I can control my breath, I can start to know when I'm becoming agitated. And then when  I'm tired and stressed, that I can start to see it and maybe bring myself back around.” 


To see that it's helping even that early in the stage, and then trying to put those touch  points throughout our training has been pretty high. And even one comes to memory of last  academy of prior police officer training for six years. He looked at it and was like, “I have no  clue why we're doing this. This is the dumbest thing ever.” And even after he graduated, and  even in his paper, he wrote at the bottom, it's like, “This is one of the best things that I've done  that has helped me and my family.” 


I still get text messages from him on how just that little bit of training has helped him  and actually his children sleep better, get through school better, deal with some of the anxiety  that his daughter has by just come back to breath and breathe. So, just getting that has proved  to me at least for sure that it's resonating with our recruits and then family. So, we're starting  to make that ripple in the pond. 


John MacAdams: 

That's great. And of course, our workers through CMPS are really to hopefully provide skills  where officers, first responders, can not only manage the stress, manage themselves, but  really thrive in their career. Take those challenges, take the exposures to trauma, and have  those as places they can grow from. This growth mindset. I know that you have spoken about  mindset and growth mindset. I'd like to ask you if you'd like to talk a little bit about that. 


Troy Torrance: 

Yes. It's really trying to get our recruits, and then obviously our current law enforcement  officers to our troopers to really stay in that growth mindset. What is growth mindset? It's not  being pigeonholed and just saying, “I've got all the skills, I don't need to learn.” Our recruits receive in about week four our what's called two on one hit man. And this is where we create a  need to learn for our recruits. 


They are basically fighting two violators in a room and they get their gun taken away  within 30 seconds. They're were physically exhausted. They've been taught minimal skills and  obviously want to defend themselves to try to fight off two individuals. But at the end of the  training, we have obviously created a need. One, for a need to learn. And two, that you can't  win a fight with one person on two people. 


So, taking them in. And then, also for me to debrief each recruit after the fact while  they're trying to recover. Understanding that no matter how much physical training I put these  recruits through, no matter what workout I put them through, nothing will compare to that  training day of the amount of mental stress that they are under from us taking their air, holding  their nose close to just their own panic and stress in their mind.  


We then reverberate it back to where are we from a mindfulness perspective. How do  we understand where we are when our fight is getting maybe too long on the side of the road?  Can we come out of it? So, we're really trying to gauge and teach them that the mind is an  incredible thing on how much stress we can add to ourselves while we're in that predicament  of training. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. There's a couple of things that I've been thinking about that I wanted to ask you. We've worked with a lot of Sheriff's deputies. We've worked with a lot of people who carry utility  belts and are in patrol cars, and over the years develop chronic issues, chronic pain, chronic  back issues. So, you as a movement coach and a strength coach, do you have any tips or ways  that folks can mitigate some of those challenges? 


Troy Torrance: 

The biggest thing is having a movement practice. What does that mean? Everybody may think  I'm the meathead and I'm the strength guy, you just got to lift weights. I'm the one that will  meet an officer anywhere, meaning it doesn't matter what you do, but you have to move. Most  of us and most of the officers when they get home may just decide to sit and not do anything  for their physical health. 


It does not mean you need to go run miles and miles. It doesn't mean you have to go lift  or deadlift super heavyweight, but if you just had a basic movement practice, you can be stretching, can be yoga, can still be just basic breath work, but just basic movement skills can  thwart off a lot of the stuff and things that we have.  


Yoga is a huge one, for sure. There's a lot of free resources out there on the internet. Obviously, yoga for police. There's yoga for first responders. They put out a lot of great content  on YouTube and you can just play the video. They really reiterate coming back to the breath  and just stretching to down regulate. 


So, just trying to get our officers to just maybe spend five minutes and roll around on a  foam roller, maybe get up against the wall and do what's called the couch stretch. So, basically taking both feet flat against the wall and your hands, what we would call a  quadruped. So, your hands would be under your shoulders and your feet against the wall. And  then, you would just lift one of your legs up and put your knee into the wall with your toe high. That will stretch the front of your hip. 


Most police officers spend most of their time in their patrol car. Hips are going to be  very tight. If we're on Zoom meetings like we are now, we're sitting, our hips are going to get  very short and tight and it's going to tilt our pelvis and possibly cause some issues with the  low back. So, that is an easy one to open up the front of the hip, especially after sitting a long  time in the car. 


The other one is to just foam roll out the glutes and a little bit of the low back, just due  to the stress that that gun belt puts on the hips and the constant rotation of maybe working on  the computers in the car and then obviously rotating to the left to get out of the driver's seat.  So, there is a lot of rotation that officers do getting in and out of the car. It's not the most  ergonomically correct seating and wearing all of that body armor, cameras, gun belts, and all. It just makes it a little difficult. So, getting an officer to just do some basic movement is  immense. 


John MacAdams: 

Yeah. I really see a tie in between what you're talking about with your recruits when you are  working with them, taking that last 10 minutes or last 20 minutes. The idea of when somebody  is off shift, taking that time because we talked a lot about that transition time. That we have  that ability to mirror from what our day has been, or our shift has been and then get ourselves  ready so that we can show up to wherever we're going.


If we're going to be going home, if we're going to be going into the community,  whatever that's going to be, go out with friends. We can make that shift really in a very  conscious way that we can have a show up, do a great job at work, and then be able to make a  transition.  


It sounds like you are kind of priming that whole pump with taken 10 minutes or 20  minutes, putting them in that pool room where it's dark and also talking about, can we get  home and just have a five-minute movement? I mean, I imagine that could be taking the dog for  a nice walk and just really enjoying whatever's out in the environment and looking up into the  trees and hearing the leaves crunch under your feet or whatever that is, having a walk and  moving the body that way. 


Troy Torrance: 

Most definitely. Just moving anyway. Just walk or run. Just to move is going to move your  lymphatic system. When we sit, it's like having an aquarium without the bubbles moving. It  just becomes a very stale on the water. It can become very bad.  


It's the same with the human body. If the muscles aren't working, it's not pumping the  blood well through the system. So, strength training, walking, jogging allows the muscles to  squeeze the veins and to help the heart. The heart is a strong muscle, but we don't want it just  to pump blood and sit and exist. We call it the meat vessel or I take that from Kelly Starrett, a  great physical therapist, calls this as a meat vessel. So, trying to keep that meat vessel moving,  and then also learn about your body and try to breathe in some really precarious positions. 


Maybe try sitting in the bottom of a squat for one minute. Can you even get flat on your  feet and squat? Maybe take a lounge step and then just work three breaths and things like  that. So, just test yourself. Everybody thinks you have to do this big elaborate program to stay  in shape. It doesn't take a whole ton. Now, if you want to get very fit and be a competitive  athlete, then you're going to have to put a lot of time into things of that nature. 


And as we spoke a little bit about the downregulation, the other thing we start to talk  to the officers as you were mentioning, John, was, what do you do when you get home? What  do you do when your shift is done and you have to go home? The hardest thing I think is that  transition for officers once they get home and then having to try to turn that switch off, and  then now become the dad, the husband, and the wife, and really make that transition.


Sometimes it can be done. Obviously, our troopers go on duty and off duty in their  driveway. Some will do it at the district or at their homes. Like, city police may do that at the  station. That can give them some downregulation time driving home.  

A trooper drives home and they're in uniform. Their day finishes in the driveway. Their  down-regulation time may have to be not in the driveway because if they have young children,  their kids are going to want to come straight out and want to see them. 

I spoke with an actual trooper from Massachusetts yesterday. He brought up the same  point of trying to teach his officers for some, especially with the young kids to possibly take  those five to 10 minutes, maybe in a parking lot in a safe area, obviously, but not necessarily  right when you get home, because as you step out of your vehicle, you are obviously taller than  your child. 


If you come out stressed, tired, angry, that child's first imprint is that, on you coming out  of the vehicle. If you can down regulate and become happy and a little bit more focused at,  “Hey, I'm excited now. I'm going to see my child.” It's just going to carry over to the whole  family. And the ability for those obviously endorphins and oxytocin possibly to kick up by just  the natural love from the family can help. So, it can mitigate some of the stress coming from  home. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. That's great. Well, Troy, we're coming close to the end of our time. I wanted to hear  from you regarding the future, how you see the future for yourself as a trainer or first  responder. Where do you see the future for ISP training? And really, what's your greatest hope  for the future of first responder wellness and resiliency throughout the fields? 


Troy Torrance: 

I think in the last couple of years, we are seeing a big focus on the mental health and mental  wellbeing and the whole holistic aspect of our officers. I know that is a big thing that I am  trying to work on. I am a one man show for 1200 troopers, 92 counties, 14 districts. I do a lot  at the academy, which is awesome that we're building this base as they're starting, but I have  all those officers that are still in the field to try to get that wellness spun up. 


Where I'd love to see us go and most agencies would be similar to what the military is  doing now of having more subject matter experts hired within. Having a nutritionist, having  maybe a sports psychologist on hand. Obviously, strength coaches like myself. Not just having it within the department meeting troopers assigned. I would still love to have a trooper at each  of our districts as a tactical strength and conditioning coordinator because then we can build  programs that are geared towards our officers and really get that touch point of what they are  needing because they would be the eyes and the ears of the field, knowing what those officers  need than rather just guessing like, “Hey, we need to do this.” Really trying to really dive in  and push that.  


We've worked on building our internal committee, which we have a wellness  committee and trying to spin this up is obviously been a big task. We ran into COVID last year,  but this is something that is on the forefront for our agency. I do have really good rapport with  the upper administration. 


So, basically what I've always asked and request is not always been shut down, but I've  been used to being told no. But the biggest key is just looking at the long-term health of our  officers and to have them retire healthy and actually live longer and not have the statistics of  that short four-to-five-year retirement to death. That's not what I want. I want that trooper to  earn every penny out of their pension when they retire and live that nice long, healthy life. 


John MacAdams: 

Well, that's great, Troy. Hearing the way you're making relationships within your agency,  keeping those strong and really looking for a future development, you are an innovator, and I  think you're really at the cutting edge of this movement towards first responder resilience,  wellness, self-care and understanding that mental health is incredibly important. And that  being able to have that healthy thriving career, healthy thriving retirement, be able to both  show up and do a great job, but also be able to show up and have a great home life and family  life. 


Well, I think you're really hitting all these right spots. I really appreciate you sharing  this with our audience. I just wish you the best. I’d love to stay in touch, as I know we will. I just  want to thank you again. I'm sure that our audience has learned a lot and got a lot of a couple  little nuggets. I think the overall approach that you're taking is a great model.  

I would encourage folks. I'm sure you can find, Troy Torrance. I know he's on LinkedIn  and you can find Indiana State Police. There may be some opportunities for people to connect  and share and look at models and how can we take this work forward. So, thank you again  very much Troy.


Troy Torrance: 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I'm very passionate about this. This is something I'd  love to do. I'm just here to help and that's all I can ask. If anybody gets into this field to try to  do it, I mean, that's what we're here for. You have to meet them where they're at and be a  good listener.  


I mean, that's probably the biggest thing I've learned is just listen. Give them the  answers that they need. If you don't have them, find them, and give them the answer. If  anybody needs anything, definitely can reach out to me at any time. I'll share anything I've  learned. I'll also share all my mistakes that I've made because there are a bunch of them,  making them on the way. But again, thank you for the opportunity. 


John MacAdams: 

Yeah. It's been great. Thanks Troy.




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