WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
After nearly 18 months of fitness test exemption due to COVID-19 safety concerns, the 445th Force Support Squadron resumed testing during the July unit training assembly, July 10-11, 2021. Even though testing has resumed, there are many precautionary measures in place to ensure members remain healthy.
The most notable change is limiting the number of people testing at one time. Currently, the FSS can test eight members at a time to limit potential exposure as safety is the most important thing. The usual number of people scheduled at a time is 50.
Other changes have also been implemented as a result of the pandemic. For example, members have the option of using the toe bar for sit-ups, or if they’re comfortable, having another member hold their feet. In addition, the waist measurement has also been eliminated and a different assessment of body composition will be introduced in October 2021.
“I think it’s great to be back to testing. We need to get back to our new normal,” said Master Sgt. Nastasskia Sy, fitness assessment cell manager, 445th FSS. “I am hoping we can increase the number of people testing at a time in the next few months but safety is the most important thing.”
While members resumed testing, many of the 445th Airlift Wing first sergeants were at the running track passing out water bottles and fruit, and encouraging members while they ran. Some even ran alongside their members to help motivate them to do their best.
“I feel like we’re home again, getting back to the norm, and motivating people,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer Cashwell, first sergeant for the 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron.
In addition to the changes due to COVID-19, the Air Force released new fitness standards and introduced new five-year age brackets instead of the outdated 10 year ones. Members are excited to be back to testing and for the new changes.
“I think the changes are a step in the right direction. It is definitely the right thing. More people will pass, and they can be focused on the entire mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Jared Dexter, fitness assessment cell supervisor, 445th FSS.
Dexter is happy to see the testing resume and the FSS fitness assessment team has worked hard to be ready and implement the changes.
“It was time. It’s been almost 18 months,” said Dexter. It has been a process to get everything going and there was a learning curve for everyone but it is going smoothly, and we are following the proper guidelines for everything.”
Maj. Cletus Schafrath, formerly with the 445th AW, now at the 301st Fighter Wing, Fort Worth, was grateful to be able to test on Saturday with members of the 445th AW, and he came prepared to pass.
“Fitness is a lifestyle choice,” said Schafrath. “Eat right and exercise every day and you never have to worry about when the test is, you are always prepared.”