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Airmen Facing First Fitness Tests
By Lisa Horn
Stars and Stripes
European Edition

January 29, 2004

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany Airmen continue to prepare for the first round of tests in line with the new Air Force fitness standards that went into effect Jan. 1.

According to Maj. Mike Young, chief of public affairs for the 86th Airlift Wing, most of the senior leadership from Ramstein's 86th Airlift Wing and the 435th Air Base Wing have completed the test. Testing for the rest of the base and other U.S. Air Forces in Europe bases is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

Under the new standards, the cycle ergometry test has been eliminated, and the service's weight tables and body fat percentage charts have been considered obsolete.

The new test will require a 1.5-mile run, sit-ups and push-ups, along with a waist measurement.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper announced the changes last summer; squadrons have been preparing since fall. Several airmen interviewed at the Ramstein Air Base north side gym Thursday are excited about the changes overall, but are hesitant about the waist measurements.

"I think it's a much better assessment instead of just doing the cycle ergometry," said Capt. Jim Williamson of the 32nd Information Warfare Flight. "The waist measurement I'm not too sure on that one. I mean, I'm 6-foot-5, and I don't care what you do, but there's no way I'm going to have a 28-inch waist."

Men's waistlines may not exceed more than 40 inches. The maximum waistline for a woman is 35 inches. Unlike the rest of the test's standards, however, the waist measurement is the one criteria that does not change with age.

Lt. Col. Kathleen Sakura, commander of the 24th Intelligence Squadron, said the new fitness standards have been welcomed by her squadron. But some members have been concerned about where the waist measurement is actually taken.

"Women have waists in different areas high-waisted, low-waisted and all that," Sakura said. "It basically standardizes where they take the measurement and may not be at your most narrow point of what we would consider our waist."

According to Charlie Olmstead, exercise physiologist at Ramstein Air Base's Health and Wellness Center, the measurement is taken just above the iliac crest, or the hip bone.

Because many women carry extra weight in their hips and thighs, Olmstead said, "I think most women are happy with the waist measurement, I would think."

Senior Airman Nichole Ortega disagreed.

"I don't know about the waist thing," she said. "It works for me because I have a skinny waist. But [because] there are so many different body types, it might be difficult. Somebody could be thicker in the waist and in better shape."

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This article is provided courtesy of Stars & Stripes, which got its start as a newspaper for Union troops during the Civil War, and has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and 1945 in the Pacific. Stripes reporters have been in the field with American soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo, and are now on assignment in the Middle East.

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