PARAMUS, N.J. -- Watching Cindy Garcia at Guerrilla Fitness in Paramus, it's hard to believe there was ever a time she wasn't a CrossFit athlete.
Handstand push-ups? No problem. Pistol squats? They're her strong suit.
The sport came naturally to Garcia. She is unstoppable.
But despite her hesitance to try it a year ago, Garcia says CrossFit is one of the best things she's ever done for her career as an NJ Transit K9 officer.
"You never know what your day is going to entail -- could be easy patrolling, or something major," said Garcia, 42, after Thursday evening's rigorous workout.
"Fitness gives you mental fortitude."
Garcia has been an athlete since she was 13 years old. She tried almost everything -- purposefully avoiding CrossFit up until a year ago, when her sister-in-law convinced her to come to Guerrilla.
"I was afraid of getting hurt because of my job," Garcia said. "I don't sit at a desk all day, I'm always on my feet."
Everything she does with German Shepherd Hugo -- an explosive detection police dog -- is physical.
All the training is done through play. All of the work is done by walking.
If Garcia endured an injury, she would be done for.
But she says the Guerrilla Fitness coaches put her at ease from the get go, always attentive and watching her form.
Now, Garcia says she'll never be able to go back to a regular gym.
"There's something to be said for group fitness," she said. "It's a very community oriented place. Everyone is warm and encouraging.
"There are people from all different walks of life here to do same thing."
Garcia lives in Nutley but chooses to go out of her way to come to Guerrilla. The gym is her home, the people her family and her workouts are therapy.
"Mental well-being is really important, especially for a job that can be so stressful," the officer said.
"It's a great way to decompress, and it's a good physical and mental health check."
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