Oh no, not another fitness story

  • Published
  • By Paul Zadach
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Well, it's that time of year, right? A time where lots of people make resolutions to get fit and lose weight. Ever notice the increase in ads for treadmills and fitness clubs this time of year? These marketing guys aren't dumb; they know it's time to strike while the energy of good intentions remains. So, yeah, I know, another New Year's get in shape fitness story, but I decided the time was right in that someone might actually still be motivated enough to read it.

I remember the good old days. I remember when our Air Force Reserve fit test consisted of the entire wing walking around a three mile course. It was a great time to socialize and get to know others in the wing and I think it was even a timed event. Everyone passed and all was good. We were fit!

Looking back now, maybe those weren't really the "good old days", at least in terms of staying fit. The Air Force didn't seem to think so either, and as everyone knows, those days did not last. When the fitness test was first introduced, it seemed to throw a lot of people into a panic. I heard people predicting the complete demise of the Reserve. Some claimed it was unfair and just not possible for them to pass. I even heard some in leadership say, "This will have a half-life of about two years, it won't last."

Most people were able to pass the test either because they were already in good shape, or they found a way to get there. The 934th has a passing rate above 90 percent, so most people have come up with a good system for success. I used to be one of those people who pretty much dreaded the test and kind of hoped it would just go away. It doesn't look like that's going to happen. Actually, fitness is becoming more and more crucial to career success and even staying in the Air Force Reserve.

I always had this idea that the people who were passing the fit test just had some natural physical ability that I didn't, and it was easier for them. After talking to people, I found that was a rare occurrence. Most people had to work at it. They didn't just show up for the test and then go back to a life without exercise between tests. I was never very good at running and generally didn't see any point in it unless I was being chased by a grizzly. One day though, I kind of realized that "resistance was futile" and I just decided that somehow I was going to work up to running the mile and a half that was required.

That wasn't easy. When I started, I could barely run 50 yards without stopping, but I gradually worked up to the point where I could run 1.5 miles in pretty good time. I also started doing the push-ups and crunches every other day. I started watching my food intake more closely and lost some weight. Strangely enough, I started to actually look forward to the fitness test and started a friendly competition within the office to achieve the best score. We got to where the majority of the people in our office were scoring in the "excellent" range.

What I learned is that you really have to work on fitness year round to be successful and it helps to engage your Wingmen with you along the way for support. I never thought I would say this, but I am now grateful that the Air Force came up with these fitness standards. I'll be honest, I doubt if I would have started running and working out if I wasn't initially motivated by the Air Force fit test. I've continued to run and work out even more since I retired. I'm running in the Air Force half marathon with some of my 934th Public Affairs alumni in September, so it turned out to be a great benefit for me.

I hope it does for you too.