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Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Chrisman, foreground, does push-ups outside Potter Fitness Center on Friday morning at Misawa Air Base, Japan, along with other members of the PT 100 Club — 138 airmen at Misawa who have achieved a perfect score in their annual mandatory fitness test. Also working out with Chrisman, right to left: Lt. Col. Geoffrey Crawley, Senior Master Sergeant David Varoskovic, and Airman 1st Class Nathan Carreon.

Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Chrisman, foreground, does push-ups outside Potter Fitness Center on Friday morning at Misawa Air Base, Japan, along with other members of the PT 100 Club — 138 airmen at Misawa who have achieved a perfect score in their annual mandatory fitness test. Also working out with Chrisman, right to left: Lt. Col. Geoffrey Crawley, Senior Master Sergeant David Varoskovic, and Airman 1st Class Nathan Carreon. (Jennifer H. Svan)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Chrisman turned 30 and lost 30 pounds.

Now, at 32, she’s aced three Air Force physical fitness tests, joining an elite Misawa group that’s growing by leaps and bounds.

Chrisman is one of 138 members of the base’s PT 100 Club, airmen who have achieved perfect scores on the service’s annual mandatory fitness test.

Club numbers have tripled in the last several years, according to Jason Vandenberg, 35th Force Support Squadron fitness director. Current membership represents 5 percent of the base’s active-duty population, the highest percentage in Pacific Air Forces, Vandenberg said.

Airmen receive a lot of support from the base’s two fitness centers, the Health and Wellness Center and other agencies to help them stay physically fit, Vandenberg said.

"The goal is promoting fitness as a lifestyle and not as a once-a-year compliance tool," he said.

Some squadrons give airmen with perfect fitness scores three-day passes, and the Potter Fitness Center gave all club members free T-shirts Friday.

How difficult a perfect score is to obtain — and the best way to achieve it — depends on whom you ask.

Vandenberg said "it’s very, very difficult," as the test gauges all key components of fitness, including strength and cardiovascular ability. Airmen run 1.5 miles, get their abdominal circumference measured, and are timed performing a minute each of sit-ups and push-ups. Fitness scores are bracketed by age and gender, with male servicemembers under 25 held to the highest standard.

But some airmen in the PT 100 Club don’t need a buffer for older joints and muscles.

Senior Master Sgt. David Varoskovic, 41, a material superintendent for the 35th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight, would need only two more push-ups — for a total of 62 in one minute — to get a perfect grade in the under-25 category.

He’s aced the test five times.

His fastest run is 8:28. Male airmen 25 or younger need to run 1.5 miles in 9:36 to get a perfect run score.

"It probably could be more challenging," Varoskovic said of the test. His suggestion would be to increase the run to 2 miles.

Varoskovic works out year-round, typically rising at 4:30 a.m. Monday to Friday for 60 minutes of cardiovascular training, followed by 45 minutes of strength training.

Weekends are set aside for road races — from a 5K to a half marathon.

He advises those looking to improve their physical fitness score to work out a minimum of three to five times per week. Set short-term goals, like running in a race or timing yourself on the track.

For Lt. Col. Geoffrey Crawley, 45, the key has been finding a sport he enjoys. Rowing in the winter and cycling the rest of the year, he’s notched a perfect grade ever since the Air Force switched over to the new test about five years ago.

Capt. Erin Fager, 27, an air and space physiologist with "four or five" perfect scores to date and a 9:36 run time, says diet and consistent training are important.

"Make your diet 80 percent clean," she said. "Eat fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and drink lots of water. The other 20 percent can be junk."

Sometimes raw talent can go a long way.

Airman 1st Class Nathan Carreon, 19, who works at Misawa Security Operations Center, confesses to surfing and skateboarding often, eating a lot and running little, despite boasting an 8:17 run time.

"I’m young," he said. "It comes naturally. I find it (the test) quite easy."

Fitness events

The Potter Fitness Center at Misawa Air Base, Japan, will host several events this summer and fall to promote physical fitness:

Aug. 21-24 the fitness center for the first time will hold a series of classes for Air Force unit physical training leaders, led by Cooper Institute trainers. Misawa is one of three bases in Pacific Air Forces to host Cooper trainers this summer, according to Jason Vandenberg, 35th Force Support Squadron fitness director.Aug. 23 is the sixth annual Wild Weasel Triathlon, a 400-meter swim in Lake Ogawara, a 13-kilometer bike ride, and a 5K run.Sept. 20 is the Misawa Flyers’ "Race the Base," an 8.5-mile run around the base perimeter.The Misawa Flyers running club has 250 members and is always looking for more, Vandenberg said. The club is recruiting people to run the Tokyo Marathon in February.

For more information about the club or upcoming events at the fitness center, call DSN 226-3982.

— Jennifer H. Svan

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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