Air Force PT: Survival of the fittest

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kenneth Herstine
  • 445th Force Support Squadron commander
If you've been serving the Air Force Reserve for as long as I have, you have witnessed a fitness evolution from the early 1980s until today. In fact, the Air Force Reserve didn't really have a fitness "program" back in those earlier days. Our fitness was measured by physical stature alone. It didn't matter that you couldn't do a single push-up or sit-up or even run ten yards! It was all about your body dimensions.

Our first cardio-type measurement was an untimed "3-mile walk" introduced in the mid to late 1980s. Airmen could actually stroll for 3 miles, joking and sometimes even smoking along the way. No lie. The walk evolved into a run, and later they tried introducing an ergonomic bike, "that never took off".

Fast forward to today: timed and measured push-ups, sit-ups, and distance run plus body measurements.

Air Force Reservists must take the current minimal level of fitness to perform in today's high-ops tempo and Air Force Reserve leaders encourage reservists stay within fitness standards all year long. "The idea is not to prepare for the test for a couple of weeks and then abandon your health program once the test is over," said Col. [William] Thornton, AFRC's Assistant Director of Health Services. "We want reservists to make exercising and eating right a permanent part of their lives."

Former Air Force Chief of Staff General [John P.] Jumper implemented the fit-to-fight program Air Force-wide with the idea that the Air Force must have a healthy, fit force that is ready to deploy at any time. To place some teeth behind this goal, our Fit-To-Fight score is now a critical element in our quest to achieve--and in some cases maintain--our career goals.

Failure to meet the fitness standards can now have detrimental career impacts and may result in a "referral" performance report. These "referral" performance reports remain in your ecords forever and can adversely impact your career progression.

General Jumper's program makes it a commander's responsibility to ensure his people incorporate physical fitness into their daily routine. Our active-duty counterparts have incorporated exercise into their daily duty day. So where does that leave it for unit reservists like you and me?

Well, the burden of exercise and meeting fitness standards primarily lies with each individual. That means we must take the initiative to exercise regularly and make smart eating choices. Remember that in an evolution, only the strong survive.

I value my career and want to continue to serve. I've made some lifestyle changes and must admit, I feel much better for it. For those struggling to meet Air Force fitness standards, I encourage you to make a change. I promise; you will not regret it.