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Peterson Space Observer

Airmen prepare for new PT culture

Physical fitness is a top priority for Airmen, who will face a more rigorous physical fitness test beginning in January. The new Air Force Fitness Program focuses on maintaining a culture of peak physical fitness year-around, not just for annual PT tests. The goal is to maintain trained, combat-ready and disciplined forces. (Air Force photo by Rob Bussard) by Monica Mendoza

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., — This month, all of Peterson’s Airmen will take a practice physical fitness test under the new Air Force Fitness Program testing standards.
Beginning in January, Airmen will be required to take a more rigorous physical fitness test and Col. Stephen Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, wants to ensure that Peterson’s Airmen are ready. The changes are the most significant to the fitness program in the past five years.
Colonel Whiting has asked all 1,900 Airmen to take the practice physical fitness test this month and he will review the results. The diagnostics will show Airmen where they need to improve.
“Colonel Whiting wants to see where the wing is as far as the new standards,” said Cynthia White, chief of health promotion. Beginning in December, the HAWC will offer classes on total fitness, running techniques and nutrition with the goal of helping Airmen get physically fit and stay fit.
This month-long practice testing program could affect civilians. If there is inclement weather, all running tests will be moved to the inside track at the fitness center. During testing hours, civilians will not be allowed to run or walk on the track. During inclement weather, the track may be closed to civilians between 8 a.m. and noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
“It is really for the safety of the fitness center patrons,” Ms. White said. “We require that the track be cleared for testing.”
The new fitness test and program is of the highest priority, said 1st Lt. James Harris, Military Personnel Section chief. It is part of a total fitness program to motivate Airmen to maintain top physical form and to avoid cramming for an annual fitness test. The new fitness program promotes a culture of proper aerobic conditioning, strength and flexibility training and healthy eating. A 2008 audit of the Air Force fitness program found it had inconsistent standards and did not promote a lifestyle of fitness.
“The goal is to be fit to fight, not fit to test,” Lieutenant Harris said. “Often, people will prepare for the test one month of the year. This new program breeds a culture of fitness as opposed to being able to pass a test.”
The new test puts more emphasis on the aerobic run, moving it from 50 percent to 60 percent of the overall score. There also will be changes to the body composition section, with a focus on health, said Capt. Jesse Johnson, Sustainment Services Flight commander.
“It’s the only test of all the services based on health factors,” Captain Johnson said.
For example, a male Airman’s waist should be no bigger than 39 inches. The idea is to learn why certain measurements are important to total overall health.
“If your waist is bigger than 39, you are at high risk for heart disease,” Captain Johnson said.
Under the new fitness program, the consequences for failure are higher. An Airman who fails will attend mandatory intervention programs, will have mandatory PT five times a week, must attend unit-led PT sessions, and will be ineligible for professional military education, which could affect promotions.
Commanders will have more disciplinary discretion to issue a letter of reprimand on first failure and can recommend separation on second failure.
The new fitness program makes fitness the member’s responsibility, Lieutenant Harris said. If a member fails, the onus to get in standards is on the member, not on the unit.
“Overall, the new program will benefit us,” Lieutenant Harris said.
Physical fitness test at a glance
— Airmen and Reservists will take a physical fitness test every six months. Inactive Guardsmen will test annually; twice a year, if activated.
— Aerobic run accounts for 60 percent
— Body composition accounts for 20 percent
— Muscle fitness (sit-ups and push-up) accounts for 20 percent; 10 percent each
— Five trained civilians will administer fitness tests. The five-member team, called the Fitness Assessment Cell, will be responsible for reporting failures to commanders.
— There is no high-altitude adjustment.
Scoring categories
Airmen must meet the minimum requirement in each section — aerobic, body composition and muscle fitness — to pass.
— Excellent, 90 and above
— Satisfactory, 75 to 89.9
— Unsatisfactory, or Fail, below 75
The new fitness program standards will be presented at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nov. 5, in the base theater.
For fitness charts and requirements, go to http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/affitnessprogram/index.asp.

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