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News > Mind Games: Airmen battle bulge with mental prowess
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 New poster series promotes fitness from leadership down
 New fitness standards begin in 2010
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Lead by example
Col. Bruce McClintock, 96th Air Base Wing commander, leads Team Eglin Warriors in implementing the new Fit to Fight physical fitness standards. The twice-a-year tests begin January 2010 with the new PT standards implementation July 2010. (Courtesy illustration)
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Mind Games: Airmen battle bulge with mental prowess

Posted 12/8/2009   Updated 12/8/2009 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary
Team Eglin Public Affairs

12/8/2009 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As the holidays begin, people have a tendency to get lost in the season and indulge in festivities. Often this means packing on the pounds. Even as the holiday season gets into full swing, the new year brings with it a new set of strict physical fitness standards for the Air Force.

Revisions to the Air Force fitness program take effect July 2010. These modifications, improvements and upgrades bring about some of the most significant changes to fitness standards in the last five years and shift a greater level of responsibility for maintaining year-round physical fitness to all Airmen.

Air Force leadership is investing in a year-round fitness program, which places emphasis on a total fitness concept. The new Get Fit to Fight campaign posters showing up throughout the base beginning next week, encourage physical fitness, a balanced diet and positive mindset.

"The Air Force is full of visual aids," said Jimmy Howard, Air Force Research Laboratory contractor and fitness guru with 26 years of experience as a martial arts instructor and basketball coach. "There are posters reminding people about safety, posters naming the disaster preparedness officer, OPSEC posters, so we are surrounded by visual aids all the time."

So it would follow that the Eglin Fitness Center would have "visual aids" inspiring customers to shape up.  The posters will be at the BX, fitness center, dining facility and Health and Wellness Center among others.  There will also be a banner on the crosswalk across Eglin Boulevard.

"The latest version of the 'Get Fit to Fight' poster is based on this concept," said Mr. Howard, whose idea it was to create the inspirational poster series.

Mr. Howard developed the first series of GFTF posters in Eglin 96th Services Squadron in 2005.

"The GFTF posters came from an idea I got years ago when I was teaching martial arts here," he explained. "I would tell the guys that to be able to fight -- they had to get fit first."

Leadership is concerned with its preparation of Airmen and are committed to leading the push to a healthier and more expeditiously capable Airman, too, Mr. Howard said.

"The posters show that leadership is involved and taking the new standards seriously," said Mr. Howard, Eglin men's basketball coach. "The posters serve as a reminder of what servicemembers are responsible for now and what's ahead. There won't be any surprises or leniency. There's no more borderline - an Airman's either good or great. Marginal won't cut. If you want to continue wearing the uniform, the onus is now on you."

In addition to becoming a healthier version of yourself, leadership stresses the importance of being an expeditionary asset. Wearing the uniform has become synonymous with being the epitome of a physically fit Airman who is ready to meet any and all challenges.

"Anyone who is honored enough to be called an Airman and Warrior must be held to higher fitness standards than your average person on the street," Maj. Gen. C.R. Davis, Air Armament Center commander and the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons for Air Force Materiel Command. "When we accept the challenges of (our core values), must also accept the challenge of maintaining a sound body.  If you have to worry about 'just passing the test', you haven't fully accepted the requirements of being an Airman and Warrior."

The posters will serve as a reminder of the need for fitness and serve as a reinforcement that servicemembers are not alone in their pursuit of a healthy body.

"The goal of the posters is to serve as a constant visual reminder that healthy doesn't just look good on a person, but benefits a person's physical and mental health," Mr. Howard said. "There are many programs offered that can help a person meet his own personal goals."

With the increased operations tempo due to contingency operations as well as a decreased military workforce, stress can play a huge factor in a person's life. Being physically and mentally fit will help Airmen combat those stresses in any job set.

"A high degree of fitness reduces stress, enables you to think more clearly and logical, and reduces every kind of illness imaginable," General Davis said. "You must live (a healthy) lifestyle every day whether you spend your time at a desk, in a cockpit or in the vehicle maintenance yard."

And it isn't a matter of leadership telling Airmen to get fit while they themselves enjoy holiday gluttony without fear of repercussion.

"The holidays are notorious for causing people to overindulge in guilty pleasures. Holiday's are like big cheat weeks where, unfortunately, the repercussion can linger far longer than most anticipate," Mr. Howard said. "The side effects start showing immediately, tighter fit in clothing, lack of energy and plenty of 'I need to get in shape talk.'"

Mr. Howard feels these guilty pleasures have become the reason behind the staple for New Year's resolutions. Starting to integrate a balanced fitness plan now is a way to combat holiday excess and prepare for the new PT standards.

"Now that the schedule is set to start six months later folks will have ample opportunity to amp up their workout regimen," Mr. Howard said. "Consistency and dedication are paramount to a successful workout program. If you don't put in the time and effort to stay in shape you'll always find yourself in "catch up" mode."

More than before, servicemembers are being asked to do more. As the force becomes leaner and operations tempo increase, it's imperative Airmen are "Fit to Fight."

"We're lean now, so we've got to be smart - just like our bombs," he said. "There are no barriers to fitness - there's always a way to overcome obstacles. Having fit Airmen is more mission critical now than ever before. It's not just about supporting yourself but your (Wingman)."

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