The US Air Force is fighting back against the COVID “sprawl” with a fresh approach to physical fitness. How about this: choose your own PT test?

All branches of the military have some sort of physical fitness requirements. The Marines incorporate a lot of running and weight-bearing into their programs. The Navy features planks and swimming. Or rowing. Or running. Or something. The Army is closest to the Air Force program, with run, crunches, and push-ups. Until now, that is.

US Air Force Airmen have been without a department-wide PT program since COVID moved in, put its feet up, cracked a beer, and said, “I ain’t leavin’!” With social distancing, masking, and facility closures, the Department of the Air Force decided physical fitness testing could take a back seat to readiness. Airmen have spent the last year working out on their own (yeah, right), as part of local squadron programs, or saying, “Yes, I will have that jelly doughnut, thank you very much.”

Way back in the dark ages (the late-90s), basic training consisted of running when I joined. That’s what it seemed like, anyway. Due to an inept guidon bearer, my flight double-timed to every destination from week two through the end. We ran in formation, in pairs, upstairs and down hills, on sidewalks, streets, grass, and sand. We ran with TIs screaming at us, other trainees, and even with each other screaming at us. It was all very confusing. When I reached my first duty station, though, I was put on a bike.