Has Anything Really Changed In Our Physical Fitness Requirements?

  • Published
  • By Col. Worthe Holt
  • 181 MDG/CC
     Effective 1 July 2010, physical fitness testing began under AFI 36-2905 as the Air National Guard transitioned to the new Air Force Fitness Program. What does this mean to you? For all practical purposes, it is business as usual. The program is still conducted at the discretion of the wing commander, under the guidance of the Wing Fitness Program Manager, with close collaboration of the Medical Group, as before. Regarding the Fitness Assessment, note the following:
1. FA must be completed within a 3-hour window on same day.
2. If circumstances occur that prevent completion, all components must be rescheduled and completed within five duty days.
3. Extenuating circumstances include rapidly changing or severe weather conditions, emergencies, travel time needed to complete other components at alternate locations, etc...
4. Height, weight, and abdominal circumference must be the first component assessed.
5. Push-ups and sit-ups may be accomplished before or after the 1.5-mile run / 1.0-mile walk with a minimum 3-minute rest period between components.
6. Members must be in a military duty status for assessments.
7. Members must earn a composite score of 75 or greater, and meet the minimum component scores.
8. Minimum component scores do not constitute the minimum points required to earn a composite passing score.
9. Scoring the minimum component values in all FA components will not generate enough points to earn a composite score of 75 or greater.
10. Age increments occur every 10 years rather than five years as before.
     You must be Worldwide Duty qualified to do the fitness test. You can still complete the FA even if you are restricted with appropriate component exemption approved by the MDG, but not if you are profiled and therefore not WWD. In other words, it is possible to have a minor restriction, substitute an element (walk for the run component), pass the FA, not be profiled, and remain WWD qualified.

     So, who is really responsible for what, and how does this program work?
     The installation commander executes and enforces the Fitness Program, and takes administrative action in cases of non-compliance. The MDG commander ensures staff provides appropriate behavior modification, nutrition and fitness education for the Fitness Program. The chief of aerospace medicine or equivalent provides medical oversight for the FP, and ensures provision of medical dispositions relating to member's training and assessment in the FP based upon reports from the personal care physician , i.e., your private doc. The military treatment facility provider (physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant) makes a Duty Limiting Condition determination at any patient encounter in which the medical condition impacts fitness activity or when an FA is due, and documents on the AF Form 469 (your medical record). Additionally, providers will list all physical limitations on the AF Form 469. A military provider must make the final disposition for any physical limitations in cases where military members are seen by non-military providers or bring recommendations from their Primary Care Physician. The Wing Fitness Program Manager (FPM / Captain Mitten 181IW/ Captain Arnold 122FW) runs the program, and your Unit Fitness Program Manager actually schedules the testing, and completes certification. This next point is important! IAW AFI 36-2905, Fitness Program, Unit Fitness Program Managers no longer have the authority to fit test their own Unit personnel. UFPMs must schedule fit testing for unit personnel with a UFPM from another unit. UFPMs will, however, retain Fitness Improvement Program Management. UFPMs may continue testing unit members to determine improvement, however, these scores cannot be reported within Air Force Fitness Management System. It is the Wing's Fitness Program Manager's responsibility to ensure that all Unit Fitness Program Managers are trained in Basic Life Support, in the use of an Automated External Defibrillator, and on how to conduct unit FAs to include proper equipment procedures, maintenance and use.
     There are some items for which it is YOUR responsibility to understand and comply with. You must have a current fitness score on file prior to deployment, or meeting a promotion board. If you are unable to participate in a FA, or cannot complete the FA due to physical limitations or illness, your personal physician should make the medical determination, and provide this to a military provider for disposition. If a member is unable to complete any required portion of the AF Fitness Program, the member must also receive written waiver/approval from the unit commander, and have this filed by the FP manager in the member's fitness records in order to continue current service responsibilities. Members are exempted from Fitness Assessment during pregnancy. 

     Commander's play a very important role in promoting and administering the Fitness Program. The commander always has the authority to determine deployability need for members, even if profiled or otherwise restricted. The MDG can only make a recommendation. Commanders may grant exemptions designed to categorize members as unable or unavailable to train or assess for a limited amount of time. Additionally, commanders may direct unofficial practice tests at their discretion. Members who are medically exempt from assessment or for whom fitness training must be modified for greater than 30 days, including pregnancy, will be referred to the program manager for an exercise assessment. An exemption can last for 30 days or less. The member has 42 days for training following the expiration of the medical exemption to train and prepare for the fitness assessment. Commanders have the authority to address issues related to 1) profiled members, 2) members who have a FA exemption, and 3) members who fail the FA. Adverse personnel actions may be taken by the commander when members fail to comply with FA standards.

     While this may still sound complicated, essentially, you must complete your standard FA (or modified FA where appropriate, eg. walk instead of run) unless you are profiled by the MDG, or on a commander endorsed exemption. The commander always has the final word when complying with a MDG recommendation. In other words, again, fitness testing remains pretty much business as usual.