Total Fit Program encourages fitness culture

by Maj. Lisa Tauai
Health Promotion Flight Commander

Since the inception of the Air Force’s fitness program, it is common to see groups engaging in physical training sessions that revolve almost solely around running, push-ups and crunches.

This training regimen, however, will only prepare servicemembers to achieve a passing physical fitness score; it will not necessarily prepare them for the physical rigors associated with deployment. In addition, overuse and overtraining injuries also become a problem – further reducing fitness readiness rates.

One alternative servicemembers might try is Total Fit. The foundation of the Total Fit concept is core stability – physically training our members in a manner that builds core strength, speed, agility and flexibility.

Since the 435th Air Base Wing Total Fit program was launched in 2008, a gradual fitness culture shift has occurred. These core-centric or functional fitness routines are currently the foundation of Marine Corps and some Army physical fitness training programs. These exercises, however, are new to the Air Force; the program was introduced to the 435th Air Base Wing in 2008.

“The Total Fit concept is the ideal method to keep our Airmen fit to fight and capable of optimal physical performance anytime, anywhere,” said Dr. (Maj.) Chu Soh, 435th Medical Operations Squadron sports certified physical therapist.
The 435th Services Squadron fitness centers provide more than 25 hardcore and other core-centric group exercise sessions.

The hardcore class attracts members of all fitness levels and often is attended by more than 80 individuals per session. To learn more about the classes, visit

Of the 21 units assigned to the 435th ABW, 12 have the appropriate number of physical training leaders trained and ready to lead workouts. Since October 2008, their members have seen a three-point minimum increase in their official fitness scores, said Capt. Jeremiah Buckenberger, 435th Civil Engineer Squadron unit fitness program manager.

Additionally, Staff Sgt. Joe Wilkinson, 435th Communications Squadron UFPM, reported that since implementing the Total Fit concept, they have seen their flight’s average fitness score soar from 80.43 to 83.45 with a 75 percent decrease in their poor fitness category.

Thanks to the 435th ABW, the Total Fit concept is spreading throughout the wing and across the installation. About $77,000 was allocated to purchase both indoor and outdoor Total Fit equipment for members. Three Total Fit physical training bags are available for each of the area fitness centers. Outdoor equipment has also been purchased and is currently being set up for outdoor fitness sessions.

Additionally, many of the core-centric exercises can be performed by family members as well. Maj. Brett Bishop, 435th Medical Group physical therapist, has incorporated Total Fit exercises into Ramstein’s swim team training.

Col. Don Bacon, 435th ABW commander, encourages 435th ABW unit commanders to embrace the Total Fit concept.

The core-centric training sessions can be performed effectively in as little as 30 minutes. The sessions are also fun, which appeal to many individuals outside the realm of active-duty servicemembers.

As a byproduct of the Total Fit Program, the 435th ABW strives to be the No.1 “Meeting Air Force Physical Fitness Standards” wing in U.S. Air Forces in Europe with the wing’s “Fit Flamingos” leading the way.

For more information, contact your local unit fitness program manager or visit

You can also log on to the USAFE Fitness Web site at