Total Force Fitness Program: Teaching Airmen how to move

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78th Air Force Base Public Affairs
Failing the Air Force fitness test multiple times has ended the budding careers of numerous Airmen, but thanks to a unique fitness program here, several careers in jeopardy like Tech. Sgt. Amy Moran's are back on track.

Moran, Band of the Air Force Reserve Public Affairs noncommissioned officer in charge, failed the fitness test four times before enrolling in the Total Force Fitness Program. A few weeks ago, she passed the test with a score of 87.

"The corrective exercise and fitness improvement program has made a world of difference," Moran said. "I have back problems that prevented me from scoring well on sit ups and push ups, but this program taught me how to train properly and maintain a strong level of fitness without hurting myself."

She said she is in the best shape of her adult life and is wearing the same size clothes she wore in high school.

The TFFP is the brainchild of exercise physiologist Greg Reynolds, who came to the Robins Health and Wellness Center in late 2010. He brought with him a vision of how he might help Airmen do better in physical fitness testing, which he had been unable to implement at previous duty assignments.

Reynolds' ideas are the basis of the TFFP, a program partnership between the 78th Medical and Mission Support groups.

The TFFP helps Airmen who are struggling to pass the mandated fitness test. The unique-to-Robins program is anchored in helping those who may be struggling due to prior injuries, as well as the idea of preventing future injuries by teaching the proper way to train.

"With this program, Airmen are taught how to move before they are taught to move more and at a higher intensity," Reynolds said. "It's about helping people progress with the proper techniques and in a systematic way."

Reynolds said there is an "injury epidemic" due to various factors like over training or imbalanced training programs. He sees the TFFP as a bridge between physical therapy and a fully functional fitness regime, as well as a key component in reducing injury rates.

He became interested in proper training while studying to be an exercise physiologist in college. His professors saw him exercising and told him he was going to become injured and encouraged him to change the way he was training.

He shrugged it off, but following several injuries and knee surgeries went back to his professors to learn more. He has since become a strong advocate for preventing injuries before they happen by teaching proper training methods and techniques.

As of now, there are about 50 people enrolled in the program, a number that continues to grow every week. A unit fitness program manager can enroll an active-duty servicemember who has failed his or her fitness test twice. Those who have a fitness exemption can also be referred to the program.

Tech Sgt. Derrick Lewis, 461st Operational Support Squadron, contributes his success in passing the fitness test directly to the program. He said he was amazed at how much he learned.

"Those who are expecting just a workout program will be surprised," he said. "They break things down on why and how working out and exercising effects your body. The program is balanced. It is not just focused on running or strength, but a good mix of both."

Lewis was in the program for eight weeks, but for most people, the full cycle is about 90 days. Reynolds said they customize the program to fit the individual, so that duration varies. He said the key factor in an individual's success is how much effort he or she is willing to put forth.

"As with any fitness program, success is contingent on the individual," Reynolds said. "Those who are more consistent and are motivated do a lot better than those who are not. But we've seen a level of success among everyone who has been in the program, even outstanding results in many."

Reynolds hopes that eventually the program will be available to all military members. Those servicemembers interested in the program can be enrolled through the Health and Wellness Centers Community of Practice by contacting their Unit Fitness Program Manager for proper screening and program placement.