The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) showed off new universal annual physical testing requirements for military personnel to a handful of media in a gym at 17 Wing Winnipeg in St. James last Wednesday.
The new testing, which is in a year-long transitional period until April 1 2014, will replace old standards which had different requirements for women and older personnel.
"We’re giving the military members a full year to try this out," said James Follette, fitness co-ordinator at 17 Wing Winnipeg.
"If they’re not successful we won’t hold it against them, because that wouldn’t be fair," he said of the transition period.
Follette said the military examined and distilled over 400 common tasks performed by all of its branches to come up with the new FORCE test, an acronym for Fitness for Operational Requirements of Canadian Armed Forces Employment.
If someone doesn’t pass the new test during the transitional period they can revert back to the old one, which consisted of pushups, sit-ups, strength and cardio testing.
Follette said trepidation he’s seen among personnel about the new test is "more of a fear of the unknown," and once people are introduced to it, they generally embrace it.
Army Pte. Amanda Horton, 24, said she has always exceeded the male standards under the old annual test during her four years in the CAF. Women were only required to perform nine pushups as part of the old test, she said, while men had to do 19.
"I’m not going to lie, it’s intense," she said, out of breath after trying out the new test.
"But, I think all the tasks are relevant to our day-to-day jobs."
She said she knows a couple of women in the forces who are a "little more nervous" about the new test, "but I think they’ll pass."
If someone doesn’t pass the new test after April 1 2014 the CAF will work closely with them to get them to a point where they can pass two weeks later, Follette said.
Chief warrant officer Colin Stewart, who called himself "the old guy" at 49, said he’s experienced four different physical testing standards since joining the CAF 30 years ago.
"It’s very good for the heart. It’s tough," Stewart said after completing the test.
He said he knows some older CAF members who have desk jobs and question why they need to do the testing.
"You got to be ready. Anytime you could get called up for Queen and country."
He agreed with Horton that the new test simulates real-world tasks and requirements of the military.
"That’s what the (sandbag) drag test is, if your vehicle gets hit by an IED you can drag your buddy out."
The FORCE test:
30 consecutive lifts of a 20-kilogram sandbag from the floor to a one-metre height, marked on a wall, within three minutes and 30 seconds.
Intermittent loaded shuttles:
10 consecutive 20-metre shuttles, five walking with a 20-kilogram sandbag and five sprinting without, within 51 seconds.
An 80-metre sprint on a 20-metre course starting from a prone position on the stomach, punctuated by returning to the prone position and lifting hands off the ground every 10 metres, within 51 seconds.
Carry a 20-killogram sandbag while dragging four more backwards for 20 metres without stopping (because of the "drag coefficient" of the floor at 17 Wing, a fifth sandbag was added for dragging, bringing the total carry/drag weight to 120 kilograms).
WANT TO GET FIT AND SUPPORT THE CANADIAN FORCES?
RCAF hosting annual fundraising run on May 26
The RCAF is holding their 5th annual RCAF Run on May 26 at 17 Wing Winnipeg.
Organizer Maj. Heather Collins said the run, which saw more than 1,600 participants last year, is a great way for the community to mix with the military and share their culture of fitness.
It’s also an opportunity to "get to see, up close and personal, the Air Force base," which is usually off-limits, she said.
A variety of distances, competitive and not, are part of the run, which benefits both the Soldier On Program for ill or injured soldiers and the Military Families Fund to address emergency needs of military families.
To volunteer or take part in the run go online to rcafrun.ca