JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Second Lt. David Cummings is one who never backs down from a challenge, especially when it comes to pushing the limits of physical fitness.
Cummings, a student in the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy at the U.S. Army Medical Department Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE, at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, pushed himself to earn a perfect score on the Army Combat Fitness Test in October 2019.
He scored 600, the highest that can be attained on the test, while in the MEDCoE Basic Officer Leaders Course, or BOLC. Cummings was the only servicemember in his BOLC class to earn a perfect score on the Army Combat Fitness Test and the first MEDCoE student at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston to do so.
The 23-year-old Cummings said he set a goal of getting a perfect score on the Army Combat Fitness Test, which tests Soldiers on six exercises and skills they will need to utilize in a combat setting. The new test replaces the Army Physical Fitness Test that measured the physical fitness of service members based on general fitness standards.
“It was a test that challenged me and I was excited to take it,” Cummings said. “Obviously, I felt proud I was able to max it.”
Cummings aced the Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT, on his second try. He first took the test in late September while in the Direct Commission Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, scoring a 590. The Direct Commission Course is a month long orientation for direct commission officers entering AMEDD.
Cummings was not satisfied getting a near perfect score on the test. Before he took the test again in BOLC, Cummings trained on improving his performance on two exercises that he came up short of meeting the maximum standard on his first test: the hand release push-up-arm extension and the standing power ball throw.
“I was pretty bummed that I wasn’t able to max it the first time,” Cummings said. “I worked on those few things, technique and my timing, and was able to do it the second time around. It was definitely still challenging.
“After not maxing it (the first time), I had set the goal in my head to max it the next time I was able to take it. I felt very happy to max it the second time around.”
For achieving the perfect score on the ACFT, Cummings received a certificate at his BOLC graduation.
Cummings is into being active and living a healthy lifestyle. He played soccer and ran cross country while in high school in Huntsville, Alabama, and was a member of the soccer team during his freshman year at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
He then transferred to Auburn University, majoring in exercise science and where he was a personal trainer to several students at the college.
Cummings said his training regimen consists of going to the gym four to five times a week, focusing on weight training to develop strength and running.
Cummings started classes in the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy in January.
He said his desire to serve his country while pursuing a career as a physical therapist comes from growing up in a military family. Cummings’ father, Timothy, is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served for 24 years.
“I always had respect for Soldiers and for the Army,” Cummings said. “When I found out about the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy, it gave me the opportunity to combine physical therapy and service in the Army.”
As a physical therapist, Cummings said his experiences taking and doing well on the ACFT will help him relate to the physical needs of the servicemembers who will be his patients.
“In the future, my job will be to rehab the Soldiers and help them get back to their former level of fitness,” he said. “So being able to be familiar with this test and to have done well on this test is certainly one, going to boost my credibility, and two, help me relate and be able to actually do my job better.
“I’ve always wanted to be a physical therapist and being able to have Soldiers as people who I treat is going to be a really cool thing. I think it’s ideal.”