Do beach lifeguards have Miami’s hardest workout?

The lifeguard’s lot is not an easy one. Sure, they get paid to sit at the beach all day. And yeah, they have neat whistles to hoot at bathers with when they wander too far from the shore. But a lifeguard has to always be paying attention to his environment. There’s no checking Facebook or email, or tweeting. If they get distracted, somebody might drown.

Stephanie Eisenring, a recently minted lifeguard with Miami Beach Ocean Rescue, says keeping an eye on things is the toughest part of her new gig.

“It’s difficult to stay focused with 10 hours of watching the water. It’s easier on days when there are a lot of people, but on slow days it can be difficult.”

And then there’s the workout regime.

The basics of a lifeguard workout are as simple as they are grueling: run, swim, run, swim… on repeat for an hour. The lifeguards then do calisthenics, push ups, and abs during their shifts just to keep the blood flowing.

Javier Mayor, a 24-year veteran, explains that “everybody has their preferences, and (what they do) depends on the water conditions.” He personally likes to surf ski when there’s a bit of wind or swell, getting his workout in from pushing a hybrid kayak/surfboard around on the waves. But the fitness requirements aren’t up for debate.


“We have days where we have hundreds of preventions coupled with multiple, multiple victim rescues,” notes Christopher Nowviskie, a 34-year veteran of the job. Preventions are when lifeguards tell you to get out of the water or to come back to shore. “And so we have to maintain fitness, be in peak shape, and be ready to go at a moment’s notice every day that we’re at work.”  

In 2015 alone, Miami Beach Ocean Rescue had over 788 victim rescues and over 200,000 preventive actions (that’s a lot of whistle blowing.)

We wanted to see just how tough the workout was, so we sent our editorial fellow Mario Ariza out to see if he could hack it. (Spoiler: he lasted about 20 minutes.)




By Mario Ariza
Mario Alejandro Ariza is a Dominican immigrant who grew up in Miami. A Michener Fellow in poetry at the University of Miami’s Master in Fine Arts program, he is currently working on a nonfiction book about South Florida and Sea Level Rise. On a day with a good swell and northeasterly breezes, you’ll find him surfing on South Beach (yes, there’s actually surfing Miami.)