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Keep developing our culture of fitness

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
As we prepare for the several changes of command that will be happening throughout our wing this spring and early summer, I'd like to take a few moments to ensure that we're all continuing to develop and cultivate our culture of fitness.

This is an important area of focus for all of us, but especially for military members as we meet the demands of our daily mission and ensure we maintain a high state of readiness. The changing of leadership usually means extra work as we shift responsibilities and bring new team members up to speed on our missions. While we do that, we should be careful not to sacrifice our own health and wellness, which can easily happen if we get so absorbed into our tasks that the hours slip away before there's no time to work out!

Of course, for many of us, fitness is built into our daily routine, but I'm also concerned about our civilian work force as well! While there are no required tests for civilians, fitness is crucial for each one of us as we work to improve our resilience! Studies have proven time and time again that being physically active actually increases our mental abilities and improves our emotional capacity.

We are lucky to have many resources available to us to help us achieve our personal fitness goals--the Health and Wellness Center being one very important place where nutrition and running skills are taught, to name a few. We also have several athletes on base who can be found in the gyms, or cycling, running, boxing, etc., their way to fitness, who are also happy to share their formulas for success. We've highlighted several recently in our base newspaper and you'll read about one young staff sergeant this week who's found success with weight lifting.

I'm proud to see their stories and their efforts being highlighted, because I think we could all use inspiration as we tackle our own fitness goals. For me, the formula for fitness can be broken down into three major categories: fuel, physical training and recovery.


We all know this, but what we put in our body is critical to staying fit and reaching our goals. There is sound advice in the counsel of not eating three large meals a day. Those who struggle with weight or low metabolism should try to eat six to eight small snacks throughout the day. Of course we know we should eat lean meats, good fats, whole grains and as many vegetables as possible.

We're also taught to stay hydrated! Even a small drop of water level in our system can reduce our performance by 15 percent. Some folks like to wear extra clothing, but that only reduces our hydration levels instead of burning fat as some believe. Remember that sweat comes from your muscle, so this extreme loss of water will significantly affect a workout.

Some athletes like to supplement their nutrition, but no mixture of drugs will replace hard work. Besides, supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so this means there is no way of knowing what is actually in the supplement you are taking. A company could just sell you flour at a marked up price and call it "Muscle Builder 3000." This unregulated enterprise puts you at risk, so if you do choose to supplement, be wise, do your homework and ensure it is approved for use by the Air Force.

It's a no-brainer that weight loss or gain is all about calories-in vs. calories-out. It's an easy formula, however, it can be mentally tough to stay disciplined with your diet alone, which is why fitness must include that hard work mentioned earlier.

Physical Training

We are taught that cardio should be the staple of every Airman's workout regimen. Cardio burns calories, decreases body fat and cholesterol, and improves overall health. Whether we like to run or not, it's part of our test, and there are numerous ways in which we can improve our run time. One way is to just practice running fast. Sounds easy, but most of us don't do this. By just adding sprints, we can decrease our run time and increase our metabolism.

Speaking of the fitness test, the standard is clear and the expectation is that we have a 100 percent pass rate in our squadrons. We've done well as a wing to meet this requirement, but unfortunately every once in a while we see an Airman who refuses to put in the hard work required, and we've had to separate him or her from the Air Force when they've failed too many fitness tests. Remember that this is one very important condition of employment, but even more important, it's critical to being combat ready, and we must have a force that sees fitness as their job just as much as their primary career field is their job. Again, I'm proud of what we've accomplished these past two years with regards to our fitness scores, and I continue to see amazing improvements and results!


Recovery is one of the most underappreciated and yet one of the most important aspects to a healthy lifestyle. Proper recovery can be a powerful tool vastly increasing growth and performance. One of those recovery tools is sleep as both mentally and physically sleeping is where the majority of recovery and growth occurs. Sleep is often overlooked and too many of us allow ourselves to go without the proper amount. If that is an area of difficulty for us, again, we have helping agencies that can assist us with proper sleep hygiene.

Bottom line is that fitness will continue to be a focus area for leadership at all levels because of its importance and key role in the way we perform at work. I've given just a few tips, and I know that many of you have your own formulas for success, and I encourage you to continue to share your knowledge with those around you. I know many of you go the extra mile to help a Wingman out who may be struggling or who may be recovering from an injury. Thank you for your efforts in helping to keep our force fit and combat ready! Keep doing great things and see you at our next commander's challenge on April 27 where we'll plan to practice our sprints!