Space Force wants to try scrapping physical fitness testing for a year

In case you were looking for motivation to join the Space Force, here it is: no physical training trials! Space Force posted a note Thursday, announcing that he plans to implement a “holistic health and fitness” program that ditches the widely hated annual PT tests used by other services. Instead, the new military branch wants to teach Guardians how to take care of themselves through better nutrition, sleep, and physical education, while monitoring their progress with wearable technology.

“This program will not only promote physical fitness; it will combine physical fitness with sound education about diet, sleep hygiene and other physiological factors to also promote social, mental and spiritual health,” Space Force spokesperson Lynn Kirby said. . “Our goal is to implement a program that will support Guardians on their individual health and wellness journeys so they can be at their best, both for their teams and at home with their families.”

The memo comes about two weeks after Space Force leaders said they enjoyed using themselves as guinea pigs for the program.

Space Force Chief Master Sergeant Roger A. Towberman and Air Force Chief Master Sergeant JoAnne S. Bass speak during the senior enlisted panel at the Air Warfare Symposium Force Association in Orlando, Florida on March 4, 2022. Towberman wears a black fitness tracker ring on his right ring finger. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Serrano)

“It made me much more aware of my sleep, how long I slept, and sleeping patterns,” said Chief of Space Operations General John “Jay” Raymond. according to to Air Force magazine. “I’m getting personal here, but if I had a late dinner, I didn’t sleep as well because my heart rate didn’t drop as fast at night.”

Raymond, Space Force Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman, and other branch leaders have tried using health monitoring rings on their fingers to monitor their sleep and fitness. The rings have a very smart sound despite their small size.

“If you’ve ever woken up before your alarm clock when you’re just laying there with your eyes closed, that makes a difference,” the chief master sergeant said. James Seballes, Senior Enlisted Chief for Space Training and Readiness Command.

“If you hit your target, it gives you a little crown in the morning,” Seballes said.

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The memo released Thursday appears to formalize Space Force plans to test its holistic health program. To that end, 2022 will mark the start of a year-long testing and evaluation period where “every Guardian will be a beta tester,” Patricia Mulcahy, deputy chief of space operations for staff, wrote in the note. on duty. If all goes well, the program will be fully implemented in 2023.

“This initiative will use wearable technology and a software solution combined with fitness/workout programs and preventative health practices to increase self-awareness, provide ongoing visibility into overall health and fitness, and motivate members and their leaders to increase their performance,” Mulcahy wrote.

It seems like a useful program, allowing guardians to pursue the health and fitness goals that are right for them. However, at this stage, there are few details on exactly how the program will take shape.

For example, it was unclear how the Space Force would ensure that its members obeyed military scale body fat measurement requirements. Across the military, body composition testing can affect military careers. As the Army and Air Force try new ways to measure body composition to curb unhealthy diets and lifestyles, it’s unclear how the holistic Space Force program would view the body composition.

It was also unclear what effect a tutor’s performance in the holistic health program would have on their career; how supervisors would assess the data collected by wellness trackers; which metrics were most important or where the data would be stored.

In each branch, passing physical fitness tests is essential to stay in the military. Mulcahy wrote in his memo that tutors will conduct a “diagnostic fitness assessment” at some point this year, but these assessments “will not be used to determine eligibility for retention or promotion; nor will they serve as a basis for disciplinary or administrative action. However, the memo doesn’t say what would happen if, say, a Guardian felt like giving up the handheld ring tracker to go buy a Playstation 5 or something.

Space Force wants to try scrapping physical fitness testing for a year
US Air Force Airman 1st Class Robert English, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron central storage issue journeyman, runs during a physical training test at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Dec. 19, 2013 (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Franklin R. Ramos)

Speaking of the wearable ring, it was also unclear whether guards should wear the rings or another wearable tracker 24/7 or just while on duty. But from the way Space Force leaders have used them, it looks like wearing them will be a full-time commitment.

“It’s impossible not to start playing,” said Towberman, the senior Space Force member, according to Air Force Magazine.

“I will say sir, what was your sleep score last night?” Towberman said, referring to Raymond. “And he wants to know mine… So we’re building this community, this culture of fitness where, in a fun way, people immediately start taking care of each other. They are connected.

Whether or not your supervisor listens to you about your sleep schedule is better than dragging you through a 1.5-mile fitness test probably comes down to personal preference. But one thing is clear, Space Force is going where no service has gone before.

“We will seize this exciting opportunity to combine physiology and advanced technology to foster a culture of preparedness,” Mulcahy wrote. “This culture will undoubtedly improve the preparation and performance of all goalkeepers. Semper Supra! »

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