22nd Civil Engineers Lead the Way in Physical Fitness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Abigail Klein
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
While some Airmen may be making a fitness goals for the New Year, McConnell Airmen are already checking these goals off ... and then some.

One of the squadrons at McConnell who has made a significant change in their fitness program is the 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron. For the 22nd CES, when it comes to physical fitness, "Mess with the Bull ... Get the Horns!" is not just something you hear at an all call , said 1st Lt. Naseem Ghandour, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron operations support officer in charge. More than 73 percent of the 22nd CES Airmen have completed their lists...and then some.

The high pass rate for the squadron began its ascent not long after the Air Force officially upped its PT standards in July 2010. The increased standards, however, were not the only obstacle for the 22nd CES; when Operation Unified Protector launched in March 2011, it also took its toll on the Airmen's fitness routines. Though only a small percentage of the squadron's 200 Airmen scored 80 or below on their PT tests, the 22nd CES leadership sought to improve the unit's fitness performance.

Once the operations tempo relaxed in June 2011, the 22nd CES leadership enforced stricter PT programs for Airmen who were failing, barely passing or even exceeding Air Force standards. Though the programs may have changed, the physical nature of the majority of jobs in the 22nd CES has always made fitness a top priority, said Ghandour.

"No one wants to wonder if the Airmen on the fire and emergency rescue team are unable to pass their PT test, especially when they are responding to a base or off-base emergency," said Ghandour, "Whether it's repairing a runway during black flag weather, operating heavy equipment in MOPP gear [mission oriented protective posture gear,] or disarming an improvised explosive device wearing 80 pounds of body armor, being out on the job for many of the 22nd CES means being in peak physical condition."

This peak condition applies to all who fail their PT tests within the 22nd CES. These Airmen are required to work out five times a week; two sessions are held at McConnell's Fire Station led by Shane Davis, 22nd CES firefighter and a certified personal trainer.

Since June 2011, Airmen who scored no higher than an 85 on either their official PT test, or on a quarterly mock PT tests must attend mandatory group PT three times a week. This training, similar to the workouts for PT failures, includes 30 to 40 minutes of cardio, dynamic stretching, pyramids and strength training.

The 22nd CES leadership offered who scored above 90 on their tests to PT on their own.

"Members must beat the combined average score of their commander and first shirt, which currently stands at 99.4 percent, to earn a 1-day pass for PT excellence," Ghandour said. "The 22nd CES first shirt, Master Sgt. Lucas Beaulieu, has also recently raised the bar for McConnell, becoming the base's fastest shirt, with a 9 minute, 22 second time on his 1.5 mile run."

These changes increased fitness levels over the past year and have strengthened the 22nd CES's warrior mentality of Fit to Fight, said Staff Sgt. Carolynn Gunter, 22nd CES electrical power production support, and one of 11 physical training leaders assigned to the 22nd CES.

"When we started this program in June, we had 15 out of 200 Airmen failing," she said. "Now, only seven of our Airmen are failing, and it keeps improving."

Gunter, like many other PTLs, takes time out of her day to personally PT with Airmen in the 85 and below program. McConnell's 22d CES takes Physical Fitness seriously. They know lives depend on their ability to perform their jobs, she said

There are currently no plans to slow down fitness standards within the 22nd CES, as they work to improve the scores of all the Airmen in the squadron, not just the 6 percent in the 85 and bellow program.

"As the Air Force requirements become tougher, the 22nd CES standards will remain above the bar," said Ghandour.