Fitness program showing results

18 Nov 2003 | Tech Sgt. David A. Jablonski

Airmen have been filling fitness centers and burning up running tracks in preparation for the new, tougher fitness-testing standard set to begin Jan. 1.

Direct, immediate and overwhelming feedback from the field says that airmen are taking the new fitness challenge seriously, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper. He talked about fitness Nov. 17, while participating in the Air Force Doctrine Summit IV here.

“We may be healthy, but we’re not as fit as we should be,” Jumper said.

Months before the change was formally announced, rumors about the new program encouraged airmen to get fit fast.

“Already, the feedback is overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve been very surprised so far from the positive e-mails. We’ve had a 30-percent increase in the use of our fitness centers in the last three months. We’ve also seen remarkable progress in the number of people who quit smoking in the last three months. The only complaint that I’ve gotten is that people (have) to wait in line to get onto the machines in the fitness centers.”

Jumper said he has not only heard about the improvements through e-mail feedback, he has also seen it firsthand.

“I’ve seen squadrons out exercising in the morning as units; people running as groups with their squadron banners flying,” he said. “I see people proud of what they’re doing.

“These are the kind of results I’m looking for,” Jumper said. “I want us to be a fit and healthy force ready to deploy, fit to fight.”

The new fitness plan puts commanders in charge of the fitness of their airmen rather than within the medical community. It has also been made more of an individual responsibility, officials said. The new standard includes a 1.5-mile timed run, push-ups, crunches and waistline measurement.