Citizen Airman Fitness Increases Citizen Airman Readiness

  • Published
  • By SrA Stephen Underwood
  • 439th Airlift Wing

For many service members across the U.S. Air Force, the pandemic created unique challenges in maintaining fitness goals as Airmen were excused from testing while COVID mandates meant staying home and being less active. 

“We were seeing members fail their PT test almost every drill weekend,” said SSgt. Samuel Baah with the Aeromedical Staging Squadron. “We realized we needed to do something different because we wanted our members to succeed.” 

SSgt. Baah and SrA. Olivia Sutherland both volunteered to take over the fitness program for the ASTS squadron here. 
“We made an investment in our members,” Baah said. “We follow up with everyone to make sure they’re meeting their fitness goals throughout the month. We keep the communication lines open even during off-duty hours.”

Baah, a Massachusetts native and full-time firefighter with the Fall River Fire Department, said that physical fitness is an important part of his life both in and out of uniform. 
“You need to be fit to be a firefighter,” Baah said. “It’s an important part of overall job performance.”

Sutherland, a project manager for a construction company in Connecticut, said it was an easy decision to lead the squadron’s fitness goals.

“I have a passion for fitness,” Sutherland said. “I don’t want others to dread their PT test. I want them to know they can succeed and not only pass but thrive.” 
Both Baah and Sutherland actively engage their squadron throughout the month to ensure members are meeting their goals.

“It was just about giving them that extra motivation,” Baah said. “Just making sure our members know someone is looking out for them and cares about them meeting their goals, is a huge part of their success. COVID kept many of us apart, so we make it a priority to keep everyone together.”

Baah said that the squadron now encourages all members to take a diagnostic test before taking an official test. The diagnostic test is considered a practice test where if a member fails it doesn’t count against them, but if they pass, they can score it officially.

“You can’t lose with the diagnostic test,” Sutherland said. “It’s a win-win.” 
Sutherland said that the squadron now dedicates an hour each drill weekend to group fitness. During those fitness sessions, exercises are practiced that members can also replicate at home.

“We make it fun,” Sutherland said. “I make sure our exercises are more interactive as well. We use things like a deck of cards or dice, so it becomes more of a game too. It’s great to see people laughing together and bonding while getting some exercise.” 

That extra level of interaction and engagement has paid off. The squadron has maintained a perfect pass rate on the PT test for the last seven months.  
“I think it really shows our members take fitness seriously,” Baah said. “It’s a great accomplishment.”