22nd CPTS -- Creating a fitness culture

  • Published
  • By Maj. Darrin DeReus
  • 22nd Comptroller Squadron commander
Not everyone is built with an inherent desire to work out for two hours a day, every day, for the rest of their life. Not everyone is raised watching what they eat, counting calories and monitoring their monohydrate glucose intake.

When I first joined the Air Force, the physical fitness test consisted of a 1.5 mile run and then moved to a ride on the cycle ergometry bicycle. As members peddled along to the melodic phrases from the Queen song "Bicycle," the Air Force moved to change the PT program in 2004 and finally put teeth into a program that was gumming at the heels of many failed attempts.

The new PT program required mandatory unit fitness time and required annual testing of all members, but there was still something missing -- an incentive for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You could prepare a few weeks before and still pass the 2004 PT test.

With the passing of the new and improved PT test instituted in July 2010, the program has individuals realizing that PT isn't an Air Force "thing," and that it takes a lot more effort. Fitness should be a lifestyle "thing."

My workouts normally consist of weight training, running, abdominal workout, crossfit or a combination of them all. These workouts range from a quick 30 minute run, to three hours dedicated to the gym. Not everyone can do this and not everyone will, but this wasn't always my schedule.

At one point in my career, PT was an additional duty to my day, something easily cut if I just didn't have the time. Now, it's a vital part of my day that is required for me to complete. I made it part of my daily routine and part of my lifestyle.

Using today's standards for my previous tests, I would have scored in the 80s, but I would've failed four of my tests due to the number of sit-ups. In 2007, I made a lifestyle change, making PT part of my day, instead of an additional duty, and I saw my score increase.

By May 2010, I was scoring 100 points, running faster and feeling fit. The additional benefit was having a lot more energy in my day.

With today's standards, some may have to do more pushups, more sit-ups and continue to run faster. As a commander, it is my responsibility to provide the opportunities for members of my squadron to make fitness part of their lifestyle and lead by example. After assuming command, I reviewed our fitness policy and implemented my own philosophy into our PT program. We have PT every Monday and Wednesday at 6:45 a.m., and Friday we have 22nd Air Refueling Wing Staff PT at 7 a.m.

I maintained my physical training leader status in order to continue to lead group PT. We do the intense exercises once a week, as well as several rounds of push-ups. Members are required to run two miles each Monday, Wednesday and Friday after our squadron PT session.

The goal is to get as many members as possible to score above 90 on their tests. The incentive we use is this: If a member scores more than 90, they are excused from participating in the Monday and Wednesday squadron PT sessions, but still need to maintain fitness on their own. If the member Falls below 90 percent, the member is back to working out with the group.

Currently in the 22nd Comptroller Squadron, 74 percent of the members are in the "Excellent" category, and 26 percent are in the "Satisfactory" category with an overall squadron average of 91 points.

Our average score has increased by approximately seven percent. This could be because of new fitness scoring scales, but I can also attest that it is due to a lot of hard work by our members. We've had members decrease their run time by over three minutes. We've had members accomplish more pushups and sit-ups than they've ever accomplished in their whole career.

It's because they embraced the realization that fitness standards are vital for the health and welfare of the Air Force. Some argue that if they can't do a great job, what difference does it make if I can't do 39 sit-ups, or insert any other excuse there, but what they do not accept is the fact that fitness isn't just about being fit for the Air Force, fitness is about being fit for the family, for the member and for everyone on the team.

Fitness standards have been in existence in other services for longer than our current Air Force standards. That doesn't make the Air Force any better or any worse. It simply means we have standards that we must maintain and enforce. If members prefer not to embrace the fitness lifestyle, we thank them for serving and wish them well on their future endeavors.

The whole Air Force community must realize that fitness is important and everyone needs to embrace that fitness lifestyle. They need to get their family involved, or their friends involved and to make this Air Force a healthier fighting force for the future.