Maj. John T. Stamm
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE – The 908th Airlift Wing has not held Physical Fitness Assessment testing for its members since March, 2020, due to Center for Disease Control and Department of Defense guidance restricting mass gatherings to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus disease.
The situation changed when units across the United States Air Force Reserve Command were directed to resume testing in July 2021. Over the Unit Training Assembly weekend of July 10-11, more than 100 Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 908th participated in the testing here, which provided wing leadership with important data.
“The fitness assessment provides us with more information than just how fast a member can run or how many push-ups they can do,” said Col. Craig W. Drescher, 908th AW commander. “It can also be an indicator of potential medical issues which may need addressed. We want our Airmen to be healthy, and the fitness test is a part of a holistic approach to ensure their health and wellness. ”
Healthy and fit Airmen are better equipped to mitigate the stressors of living and working in the austere environments often encountered at deployed locations. However, social distancing protocols limited the options Airmen had to participate in physical training. Combined with postponed testing, some Airmen experienced a lack in the motivation to stay fit because they couldn’t participate in their preferred activity or sport. Now that restrictions have been lifted and testing has resumed, some Airmen have regained the incentive to maintain an exercise regimen and healthier lifestyle.
“I think it’s a significant event in the return to a state of normalcy,” said Master Sgt. Michael Sneddon, 25th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation specialist and one of the first wing members to participate in the testing. “Now that facilities are more readily available, and we’re testing again, I think you’ll see an improvement in fitness levels.”
One of the main issues over the past few months was the fitness testing program resumption date being pushed back. Originally, testing was supposed to resume in January, but then it got postponed until April. Then the April start date was moved to July.
The scoring system also changed, with age groups broken down into 5-year segments instead of 10. The scoring for the waist measurement was deleted and scoring for push-ups and sit ups increased from 10 points each to 20 points. The waist measurement will resume in October 2021, but currently will not be scored. Alternatives to the aerobic and strength portions of the test are slated to be available in January.
“There will be more testing options in January 2022,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ce’Drea Young, 908th Sustainment Flight Operations Manager and wing Fitness Program Manager. “These options will help many Airmen by allowing them to choose activities they may be better at or have more interest in.”
Airmen will be able to select from the traditional 1.5 mile run, one-mile walk or the High Aerobic Multi-shuttle Run to meet the cardio requirement. They can then perform either traditional push-ups or hand release push-ups for one strength component, and from sit-ups, the cross-leg reverse crunch, or plank to complete the comprehensive fitness assessment.
For more information on the new fitness testing standards and scoring charts, visit https://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Fitness-Program/.