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Airmen focus on fitness

Report shows fitness ‘boot camp’ program helping McChord Airmen reach their health goals, exceed AMC, Air Force Fitness Test averages

Published: 03:47PM October 6th, 2011

According to a July report, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airmen are exceeding Air Mobility Command and Air Force averages on the year-old Air Force Fitness Test. Coming in just higher than AMC and as much as 3 percent higher than the Air Force overall in the “excellent” category, Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing lead the way with a 91 percent pass rate (9 percent higher than Air Force average) and more than half of all Airmen scored “excellent,” which is more than 10 percent higher than the Air Force overall.

JBLM’s 627th Air Base Group closely followed the 62nd AW with an approximately 90 percent pass rate. Patrick Conway, the exercise physiologist and fitness program manager for the 62nd AW’s Health and Wellness Center, said success on the PT track has been due to three universal factors.

“First key is ‘top down’ leadership offering support and availability to participate in fitness,” Conway said. “When leadership provides the means and policy stating ‘all members will participate in PT’ the message is clear and taken seriously. Second is unit support and direction because a unit is only as strong as its weakest member.

Taking on fitness as a unit involves everyone and ensures no one falls behind or is overlooked. Third is individual commitment and excellence. Each individual has to take responsibility for their actions and step up to the challenge of exceeding the minimums established by the Air Force, just as they do for any other Air Force duty.”

The 62nd AW’s HAWC has certified hundreds of Physical Training Leaders across the installation, a process that starts with a squadron commander’s selection of an individual who exceeds Air Force PT standards. He then requires CPR and AED response certification and must be inititally and annually trained by HAWC’s health education program manager to maintain his PTL standing.

Conway said McChord is also reaching new fitness heights thanks to programs such as what’s offered at the HAWC or under HAWC personnel’s professional guidance.

“When the number of people not passing the fitness test began to increase, McChord took action and developed a ‘fitness boot camp,’” he said and added that McChord Field was recognized as the only Air Force locale in the region that started the program with HAWC-level education and training support. “Boot Camp” continues for either those who have fallen short of Air Force PT standards, or anyone who wants to increase their performance in the new, semiannual service evaluation. Those scoring above 90 only take the test annually.

Danielle Knutson, HAWC’s health education program manager, credits McChord Field leadership for allowing PT to be fun for the Airmen as they work to maintain physical readiness. It’s that “outside the box” approach that they continually promote through HAWC programs, which not only focus on exercise-based fitness, but also proper nutrition and relaxation for a more “whole person” approach to continuing health.

“When it’s fun and stimulating, it keeps people’s attention at a high level,” she said, “and when you have that high level, the things people can accomplish are so great.”

Conway said he wasn’t surprised that local Airmen exceed Air Force fitness standards because there may be only one thing that may get them out to PT in greater Seattle’s less-than-ideal weather most of the year — dedication.

“Does McChord take fitness seriously?” he rhetorically asked. “I would have to say yes for it sure is not the nine months of rain which drives people out to do PT.”

To learn more

For more on the HAWC programs and services offered to essentially all DOD ID card holders, call 982-6948. You can also connect with them on Facebook at mcchord.hawc.