PORTLAND, Ore. --
With many COVID-19 related restrictions lifted, the 142nd Wing resumed fitness testing on July 1st, 2021. The move marked a return to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a pause in fitness testing last year. Pandemic restrictions prevented Air Force officials from administering fitness tests, as well as limited access to gyms, exercise classes, and other fitness resources designed to keep Airmen in shape.
The return to testing marks an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19, and illustrates the importance of physical readiness in a post-COVID military.
Tech Sgt. Lewis Phillips, a fitness instructor at the 142nd Wing, acknowledges how jarring the return to testing can be, and has some tips to help people feel prepared.
“When getting back into a fitness routine, it’s important to set realistic goals and expectations” said Phillips, “Think about what you want to work on, where you want to go, and how and when you want to achieve your goal. Start off small and work your way up, and try to avoid overdoing it early on and give your body enough time to re-acclimate to a heightened activity level”.
While returning to a consistent fitness routine can be hard work, 142nd Airmen are not without resources. Airmen have access to the base gym and track both on and off duty, as well as access to an assortment of group fitness classes conducted on base.
“Airmen of the 142d Wing have access to many, truly awesome fitness facilities and resources” said Phillips, “Through the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program, 142nd Airmen have access to free classes offered weekly, including High Intensity Interval Training, Spin Classes, and Yoga sessions all instructed by knowledgeable and dedicated 142nd Wing members”.
When Airmen do resume testing, they’ll find a different test than they remember. The primary change is the removal of waist measurements as part of an Airman’s overall fitness score. However, while waist measurements will no longer affect score totals, the Air Force will implement a separate body composition test beginning in October to comply with DOD guidelines.
The omission of waist measurements will also cause some slight changes to how individual scores are calculated. While the test will still use the traditional 100-point scale, the run portion will now be worth 60 points, and push-ups and sit-ups will be worth 20 points each. Additionally, scoring brackets for age groups will move from ten, to five-year intervals in order to ensure testing brackets better match the physical capabilities of each age category.
Beginning next year, the test will see additional changes with the inclusion of various exercise options. For cardiovascular health, Airmen will be able to choose between a 1.5 mile run, sprint based shuttle run, or walking option. Other options will include substituting a plank for sit-ups, and performing a hand-release push up for strength measurements. The changes are part of a branch-wide effort to make the fitness test less rigid, and more adaptable to Airmen’s specific capabilities.
“We are moving away from a one-size-fits-all model,” said Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. “More testing options will put flexibility in the hands of our Airmen – where it belongs. We know not all Airmen maintain their fitness the same way and may excel in different areas. Alternate components provide choices while still providing a mechanism to determine overall fitness.”
While the fitness test will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the force, the importance of maintaining physical fitness remains a key component to individual well-being and mission readiness.
“Maintaining one's physical fitness greatly improves readiness, resiliency, and effectiveness,” said Phillips, “It is important for Airmen to maintain their physical fitness so they are equipped to respond effectively and thrive when called upon to serve.”
Scheduling information for fitness classes available at the Wing can be found on SharePoint.
Additionally, Airmen testing this summer can find updated fitness charts and more by going to the Air Force Personnel Center's Fitness Program page.