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Do you meet the physical standards?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
The temperature is 20 degrees below zero. The roads are treacherous. In my foggy, half-conscious state, I peek out my window to catch a glimpse of the recent snowfall. Before heading back to the comforts of my twin-size bed, I watch in awe as six Airmen make their way into the Fitness Center at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Who are these people, and more importantly, where did they find the motivation to wake up before the sun rises, forge through the blizzard and workout on their day off?

Do they have a physical training assessment next week? Are they future Olympic athletes?

Fast forward to Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. and the fitness center parking lot is packed with vehicles. Some Airmen will partake in mandatory squadron PT while others opt to workout by themselves. Perhaps they can't make it to the gym because at 7:30 a.m. they're posted out to a missile alert facility. Or maybe they're night owls who prefer to exercise at 9:30 p.m. comforted by the fact that no one can watch them on that silly elliptical machine.

Where do you fit in? Did you find the motivation to go to the gym today?

We put on the PT uniform, but is it possible sometimes we lack a real sense of motivation beyond what is required of us? Beyond what our supervisors tell us to do?

According to the United States Department of Labor, the average American spends two to six hours a day watching television. How many more hours do we spend texting, surfing the Internet and playing video games? As members of the U.S. Armed forces, we make up one percent of the population, and it is our responsibility to ourselves and the Air Force to make a lifestyle of fitness a priority in our lives.

Expectations to lead a lifestyle of physical training have been a consistent reminder to Airmen ever since they graduated Basic Military Training. Those expectations increased in 2010 when the Air Force physical fitness program was revised in an attempt to create a culture of fitness.

As a result, the number of separations for failure to meet PT standards has quadrupled in the past two years. Simply put, Airmen are not passing their PT tests like they used to. Or is the Air Force starting to crack down on PT failures and make them unavoidable?

According to Air Force Instruction 36-2905, commanders are required to make discharge or retention recommendations for Airmen who have failed four PT tests in a 24-month period. These modifications have forced Airmen of all ranks to maintain a year-round physical fitness that they are individually responsible for sustaining.

When you receive those annual or biannual emails reminding you of an upcoming PT test, what is your immediate reaction? While some of you may remain confident you will score at least a 90 percent on the test, others may shamefully walk into the fitness center with their tail between their legs just weeks before their test, all in hopes of meeting the standards.

Dr. David Burns, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at the Stanford University School of Medicine, stated "Procrastinators tell themselves, 'I don't feel like it. I'll wait until I'm in the mood.' The problem is that if you ever wait until you're 'in the mood,' you may be waiting forever. Did you really think you were going to feel like mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage, or balancing a checkbook? You're never going to 'feel like it.' People who are extremely successful know that motivation doesn't come first - productive action does. You have to prime the pump by getting started whether you feel like it or not. Once you begin to accomplish something, it will often spur you on to do even more."

While physical fitness may not come naturally to all service members, we should take baby steps toward maintaining a level of physical fitness that not only meets the standards, but exceeds them.

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