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Airman 1st Class Melissa Miedzinski was the first woman to return from the 52nd Maintenance Squadron, Munition Flight's, 3.1-mile run Thursday at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
Airman 1st Class Melissa Miedzinski was the first woman to return from the 52nd Maintenance Squadron, Munition Flight's, 3.1-mile run Thursday at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. (Lisa Horn / S&S)
Airman 1st Class Melissa Miedzinski was the first woman to return from the 52nd Maintenance Squadron, Munition Flight's, 3.1-mile run Thursday at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
Airman 1st Class Melissa Miedzinski was the first woman to return from the 52nd Maintenance Squadron, Munition Flight's, 3.1-mile run Thursday at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. (Lisa Horn / S&S)
Members of the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Munitions flight, yell an ammo call after completing a 3.1-mile run Thursday at Spangdahlem Air Base.
Members of the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Munitions flight, yell an ammo call after completing a 3.1-mile run Thursday at Spangdahlem Air Base. (Lisa Horn / S&S)
Members of 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Munitions flight, at Spangdhalem Air Base, Germany, begin their workout with jumping jacks.
Members of 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Munitions flight, at Spangdhalem Air Base, Germany, begin their workout with jumping jacks. (Lisa Horn / S&S)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — The pressure is on for the Air Force to stay in shape.

After more than a decade of using a cycle-ergometry test to measure airmen’s fitness, the Air Force will switch to a new test in January.

And Spangdahlem Air Base, like many other U.S. air bases, is getting ready for those new standards.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper introduced the policy in July in the hope that the change will reflect the Air Force’s continuing mission as an expeditionary force.

“One of the things the Air Force has prided itself in is that we [take a] sort of technical approach to fitness,” said Col. Stephen Mueller, commander of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem. “[However,] when you’re in Kirkuk, Iraq, you need to be able to do some kind of fitness training that’s not technically based.”

The more functional test will include a 1.5-mile timed run, a muscular-fitness test of push-ups and crunches and a body composition test. It is designed to measure the general health of airmen, Maj. Lisa Schmidt, chief of health promotions operations at the Air Force surgeon general’s office, explained in an Air Force news release.

The Air Force’s focus also will be more on unit achievement and not just individual achievement.

“You’re more concerned with everybody passing instead of who is the most individually fit,” Mueller said.

Spangdahlem took that group mentality in mind Wednesday when a voluntary wing run was held in conjunction with the wing’s athletic day. Nearly 1,300 of the base’s 5,000 airman took part in the run, Mueller said.

“I’m surprised at the enthusiasm at which individuals are embracing the program,” Mueller said. “We think that we had better than about 50 percent available folks show on the voluntary run.”

Many airmen agree that the change is positive.

“I think the change in standards is great,” said Senior Airman Edward Davis with the 52nd Equipment Maintenance armament flight. “I think it makes a better image to the public. The Air Force isn’t in the best of shape, but it’s a step forward.”

Mueller said some airmen have questioned how the new fitness regime will fit into what is already a full workday for many at the fighter base.

“The biggest and toughest area is our flight line,” Mueller said. “If you already have a guy who’s working a 10- to 12-hour day on the flight line, if you take him away from getting that airplane ready to fly to go run, then you can’t get there.

“You have to fly. You can’t not fly to run.”

The wing’s answer to the issue is making exercise a part of the workday.

“If you really want to make it part of your culture, you have to do it on what would be considered duty time,” Mueller said.

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