Tape test alternative sparks more debate


Even with an alternate measurement for those who fail the waist measurement component of the physical fitness test, airmen are still sounding off.

Graphic by Steve Thompson via af.mil

“They really gotta make it all difficult,” Rhonda J Garza said in a Facebook post. “Use science. We are not all built the same. [But it] doesn’t mean we are not healthy.”

Starting Oct. 1, airmen who do not meet the waist measurement requirements but pass the pushup, situp and run components of the PT test will be measured using the Body Mass Index taping guidance outlined in Defense Department instructions.

Airmen who pass the BMI standard will pass the PT test.

Although the BMI guidance offers a second chance, experts have said that airmen will not have an easier time meeting the BMI measurement.

Airmen also express concern about promoting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle while keeping mission-ready.

“They still haven’t hit the heart of the matter,” Henry Ratliff said in a Facebook post. “When the Air Force first started this health kick, it went from no structure and no substance, to structure, but still no substance. Where are the health programs like the Marines have, that teach you how to have a healthy lifestyle?”

One airman said that BE WELL classes — the Balanced Eating, Work Out Effectively, Living Longer — could be the resource every airman needs.

BE WELL was recently redesigned to have input from airmen, leadership and Air Force health professionals on fitness, education and dietary supplement safety, according to Air Force Health Promotion officials at the Air Force Medical Operations Agency, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

According to a news release, the new program offers access to a full suite of options, including a comprehensive online class; telephonic health coaching through the Defense Department-funded program, Military One Source; in-person classes on weight management with a fitness component; and instructor-led workshops on cardiovascular and strength training.

Airmen who struggle with their PT test and unsatisfactory scores must participate in the BE WELL program and work with their unit fitness manager and commander to best meet fitness goals.

These options also are available to all airmen and their families.


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  1. The BMI and BFA are all designed to reinforce the 39″ waistline. BMI % is set at the strictest allowed by DoDI. Same with BFA %. For me to pass the BFA, I’d have to have a 36 inch waist for my height. If I had a 36 inch waist in the first place, I wouldn’t have to get a BFA measurement. LOL. The new “helpful” measurements, only help to make sure your waist is 39″ or lower…just like Uncle Air Force wants it to be.

  2. DoDI 1308.3, para E2.1.2. Services will set BMI between 25 – 27.5%. Air Force picks 25. For a 6’2″ guy, a 25 BMI is 194#. A 27.5 BMI allows 214#. Not too many sub-200 6’2″ guys out there. A 214#, 6’2″ guy will look reasonable in uniform, not anorexic.

    DoDI 1308.3, para Services will set BFA no more stringent than 18 and 26% for men. Guess what the Air Force picks? 18%. Our 74 inch male would need a circumference value (CV) of 20 to pass. If you had a passing 39 inch waist, you’d need a 19 inch, fire hydrant neck to pass the BFA. Chances are if you pull a 39.5 inch tape, and you pass the actual physical components, you will fail BFA assessment. A middling allowance of 22%, bumps the CV needed to pass up to 22.5. With that, a 40 inch waist and a 17.5″ neck is a pass. This is much more reasonable expectation for someone that collects 93.5% of the 80 physical points ya need to get to the BFA for a large AC.

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