Joint Base Charleston


What’s your attitude toward fitness?

By Master Sgt. Mark Thompson | 628th Comptroller Squadron additional duty first sergeant | November 21, 2012

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- I want to take a few minutes and address how we have transitioned in the fitness arena since my entry into the United States Air Force. In doing so, I will ask you the ultimate question: Are you fit to fight or fit to test?

Since enlisting back in 1996, the Air Force has continuously transformed and will continue to evolve well beyond my retirement from active duty.

Transformations are critical to ensure our dominance and superiority across the globe, and enhance our ability to fulfill our Air Force mission to fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace.

Fitness is critical to overall mission readiness and has gone through changes in criteria and testing.

The Air Force vacated the customary ergometry cycle stationary bike, test in 2004, and adopted a more comprehensive fitness evaluation which measures aerobic, body composition, push-ups and sit-ups for all members except individuals with physical limitations.

Prior to 2004, Airmen were subjected to yearly fitness testing based on ergometry cycle assessments which measured the heart rate response to a given workload. These tests often produced invalid results, which led to changes to develop a system to precisely determine standards of fitness.

Fast forward to 2004 and beyond, the fitness program required a systematic change in our approach toward fitness and outlined specific components for testing. The program expectation was to promote a year-round fitness culture where proper dieting and exercising regularly had to be incorporated into our daily lives.

The fitness instructions clearly emphasized each military members' inherent responsibility to meet and maintain fitness standards. Some of our Airmen have internalized the fit to fight mentality by constantly working out and maintaining acceptable fitness standards throughout the year. Others have adopted the fit to test mentality, take months off after their last physical training test, only to ramp up their fitness regimen within weeks of their next PT evaluations.

A PT test should be no more than a formality for most Airmen who are steadfast in year-round fitness and have made lifestyle choices through proper dieting and nutrition. Individuals who employ the fit to test mentality sometimes result in failures.

Inherent responsibility and personal accountability should never be removed from the equation when addressing PT failures. Airmen sometimes expect leniency when they fail to attain acceptable scores, and supervisors put their credibility on the line when lobbying for exception to the fitness standard.

As supervisors, you are not hurting your subordinates' careers; they are doing that all by themselves. They are stakeholders and are responsible for their own careers.

Fit to fight versus fit to test is a personal choice with associated positive or negative career defining consequences. Airmen must attain and maintain excellent physical conditioning and be physically ready to accomplish the mission. We must all meet the Expeditionary Air Force requirements and deployment taskings ... and a key component of readiness is your level of fitness. As we bring 2012 to a close, what choice will you make in 2013? Will you be fit to fight or fit to test?

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