By Scott Prater
In an effort to create a better culture of fitness throughout the service, Air Force leaders have made some significant changes to the Air Force Fitness Program.
Under the new program, Airmen will test twice each year and the aerobic component will carry more weight. The new standards don’t take effect until July 1, however, the mandate for twice-a-year testing began Jan. 1, so each Airman must test once before July 1 under the current standards and again between July 1 and Dec. 31 under the new standards.
In an even more sweeping shift, the Air Force will also change the manner in which the test is administered.
“Manpower and Personnel is now in charge of the fitness administration,” said Kevin Ball, exercise physiologist for the Schriever Health and Wellness Center. “Previously, we educated and trained the physical training leaders and the individual units were in charge of administering the fitness tests. Now, (the Air Force) is going to a centralized system.”
Sometime between now and July 1, most Air Force bases will construct and operate Fitness Assessment Cells, or FAC, where trained civilian employees will conduct the fitness tests.
“Schriever has a goal of implementing the fitness assessment cell ahead of the July 1 deadline,” Mr. Ball said. “Testing administration is shifting to the 50th Force Support Squadron and they have opted to hire two individuals utilizing non appropriated funds.”
Every squadron will still have a unit fitness program manager who will be responsible for scheduling Airmen for fitness tests with the FACs.
The new Air Force Fitness Program enacts many wide-ranging modifications to the previous program, but Mr. Ball says what most Airmen will notice is the change in the way new test is scored.
“The aerobic component used to count for 50 percent of your composite score, whereas now, it will account for 60 percent,” he said. “Subsequently, the body- composition component that previously made up 30 percent of your score will now only make up 20 percent.”
Airmen will still perform abdominal crunches and push ups, with each score still counting for 10 percent of the their composite score, but the Air Force has instituted a minimum standard for each of those components, where one didn’t exist before.
“Previously, someone could perform really well on the run and make up for their poor score in the other components,” Mr. Ball said. “Now, you’ll have to meet the minimum standard for every component in order to pass the fitness test.”
People looking for ways to improve their fitness level are encouraged to contact the HAWC directly. The organization conducts running work shops and healthy cooking demonstrations periodically. Airmen can also use the BOD POD, a body- composition-measuring device, on location.
Mr. Ball says the impact of the new fitness assessment system will be a positive one for the Schriever Health and Wellness Center and that it essentially attempts a paradigm shift in the functional duties of the center.
“By taking away some of the administrative aspects of the fitness assessments, it allows the HAWC to focus more on training, education and outreach,” he said. “We would like to focus more on outreach to Schriever as a whole as opposed to catering to just one subset of the installation.”
Airmen can find information on the fitness assessment changes by following the health and fitness links on the Air Force portal home page or by contacting the HAWC here at 567-4292.