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NEWS | Nov. 23, 2009

Mandatory minimums at heart of new Air Force fitness program

By Robert Goetz 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Gone are the days when an Airman could pass the physical fitness test despite a sub par performance in one or more categories.

Starting July 1, not meeting the minimum requirement for just one category spells failure for the whole test, which could lead to serious career repercussions if an Airman does not subsequently reach that bar.

"Airmen now have to meet mandatory minimums for all categories of their fitness test," said Chief Master Sgt. Max Grindstaff, 12th Flying Training Wing command chief master sergeant. "If your waistline doesn't meet the mandatory minimum, for example, it's an automatic failure even if you do well in the other categories."

Under the Air Force's new fitness program, which was revised this year to create a "culture of fitness," Airmen must meet a mandatory minimum in each of four categories - pushups, sit-ups, a 1½-mile run and abdominal circumference. The mandatory minimum changes according to age and gender.

The new fitness program also requires that Airmen take the test twice a year, but many service members are focused on that rather than achieving mandatory minimums, Chief Grindstaff said.

"They need to know about the mandatory minimums," he said. "Many people I speak with aren't paying as much attention to that; they're fixated on taking it twice a year. But it's more than just taking it twice a year."

Chief Grindstaff said the consequences for not passing the fitness test are "high" - even a discharge if there are multiple failures.

"A PT test failure can result in a referral EPR, and that prohibits you from being promoted or from being selected for special assignments," he said. "It's a serious body blow to your career, but more importantly these changes are about cultivating that culture of fitness."

Testing begins in January, but the new fitness requirements will not be enforced until July. Airmen who take the test from January to June will continue to test under current fitness requirements and scoring and enlisted/officer performance reports will be annotated accordingly.

However, they will also be provided scores for the new fitness standards, which will show them how much they need to improve, if necessary.

"That's a wake-up call," Chief Grindstaff said. "That should be providing enough situational awareness for those folks."

The six-month cycles are in effect for Airmen who last took the test in July or in the months since. Airmen who took the test in July will take the test again in January, then in July, while those who took it after July will take it again six months from that time, then every six months thereafter. Airmen who took the test from January to June this year will take the test again a year after it was last administered, then every six months.

The program also requires that trained civilian employees conduct the fitness tests, which will be administered at centrally located fitness assessment cells. FACs were created to reduce the administrative burden on squadrons and maximize objectivity in testing.

Chief Grindstaff said the wing is in the final stages of developing the policy on where Randolph Airmen will take their PT tests in January.

"It's incumbent upon every individual to get prepared for when it's their time to test," he said.

For more information regarding physical fitness test changes, visit and follow the Air Force Fitness Program link.