Maintainer repairs fitness score

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. John Brennan
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief
I went into the test with the same mind set as I had in previous years; I could pass the fitness test.

The weeks leading up to the test, I had continued my normal routine of mild cardio, working out two to three times a week with performing crunches pushups mixed in.

However, with the standards increasing, it wasn't enough. I failed my PT test with a score of 69.4.

I not only embarrassed myself, I had let down my supervisor and squadron. The same people, who trust me to make an aircraft worthy of flight, now had to question whether or not I was a team member.

Because of my failure, I had to take time away from my job to attend the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's "Boot Camp." Boot Camp is a five-day program. I've always taken aircraft maintenance very seriously, but my personal health and fitness had taken a back seat.

After I dealt with the formalities, meeting and greeting with the flight superintendent, flight officer in charge, and the squadron commander who informed me that my upcoming promotion was now on hold, I had to attend the Healthy Living class. I then sat down with my family and decided it was time for a major life change.

My wife and I decided to change both our physical fitness and our health together. I wanted to do this for a few reasons:
· No one likes to be the loner, or do something drastically new alone
· It's always easier to work out with friends and family
· To eat better, we didn't want to have to prepare two different meals at every sitting

It was very important to me to do this together because we would both benefit from the changes. With my wife, we set out to make it happen -- fast.

As a family, we decided to join the local YMCA. We knew our son would want to utilize the programs available for youth sports and the water parks, and my wife could pick from many different workout programs and classes. I could have just gone to the gym on base after work, or just hoped that the boot camp would be enough to get me in shape, but this was a team effort, and no one would be left behind.

My daily routine consisted of boot camp from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., five days a week, and I spent my afternoons at the YMCA from 6 p.m., five days a week. I did two-a-days for one reason-- I knew that if I didn't give 110 percent everyday during the week, I wouldn't see immediate results.

I won't lie, the first two weeks I wanted to quit the two-a-day schedule. I kept telling myself that the pain and exhaustion were minor compared to the pain I'd go through if I failed my physical training test.

With that in mind, I set out to pass a practice test before retesting.

Next on the agenda was eating healthy. My wife and I decided to take a good look at what our meals consisted of. We had the typical "I'm too busy to cook" dining: two to three nights a week eating out with the remainder being high-fat/high-calorie dinners. It had to go, and fast.

We literally watched everything we ate for about two weeks, being conscientious of the nutritional values as well as portion size. Boneless and skinless char-grilled chicken, fresh fruits and veggies were now on the menu.

We also increased our water intake, with a little bit of lemon juice or other light calorie drink mixes.
I made great strides in a very short amount of time. I dropped almost 10 pounds, lost two inches from my waistline, maxed out physical testing criteria and cut my run time down to 11 minutes and 38 seconds. This allowed me to pass my next PT test with a 93.7. Being in the excellent category made it all worth it.

With the success of my PT test, I've done everything but relax. I still go to the gym on a daily basis, make smart choices on what I eat and I take my physical fitness just as serious as I do working on aircraft.

The decision to make a change needs to come from the individual, not the Air Force. When it comes down to the Air Force making the choice, it's possible that you may not like the decision they've made for you, but the standards are here to stay.

Everyone is different. Some Airmen may need the help of friends or family, a two-a-day workout schedule or a one-on-one trainer but they need to find what is right for them to make their physical health a priority and ultimately, a success.

Your readiness, personal, physical and emotional, is just as important as being a good wingman.