Altus PTLs raise bar for fitness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
In today's Air Force with physical training test parameters becoming more and more stringent, personal fitness can make or break an Airman's career.

Airmen are not alone in their fight to maintain a healthy level of exercise and balanced diet. Each unit has a designated Physical Training Leader. It is the responsibility of PTL's to teach their fellow Airmen what it takes to stay fit to fight by leading their unit's PT programs with knowledge they acquire during their initial PTL course.

Thanks to the PTLs of Altus AFB, the amount of Airmen passing their PT tests has increased dramatically with 87 percent of Airmen passing their PT tests with a good or excellent.

"Right now the pass rate is a whole lot better than it used to be," said Mr. Karl Leonard, 97th Medical Group exercise physiologist and PTL course instructor. "These guys are definitely doing a great job ... they are out there leading PT and doing what they need to do to get their Airmen to pass."

According to Mr. Leonard, most of the PTLs here are volunteers.

"I felt I needed to step up and become a PTL," said Senior Airman Joseph A. VanDeusen, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management and analysis journeyman. "Before my last PT test in March, I spoke with my supervisor and told him that if I score over a 90 on my test, I would volunteer. The day of my test I put every bit of effort I could into reaching my goal, and I ended up getting my fastest 1.5 mile run time in my entire career. The next day I started the ball rolling on becoming a PTL."

According to VanDeusen, he asks members in his squadron what they want out of their PT and found that by talking with the Airmen he can help them reach goals they didn't think they could During his units PT he motivates his fellow Airmen and tries to pump them up to let them know they have the ability to give that extra effort.

"The biggest challenge with being a PTL is making certain that everyone is giving 100 percent every time," VanDeusen said. "There will always be those who don't push themselves and when it comes time to PT test and someone within your squadron or even your own flight doesn't pass, it really is devastating, you really want to try to get the best out of everyone."

Being a PTL is hard work, but it can be very gratifying.

"It's a great feeling being able to step up and take the lead, to know that your actions benefit so many people, to see others look at you as someone they can come to for help, as well as having the knowledge and ability to offer help to others really makes being a PTL an extraordinary duty," VanDeusen said.

Mr. Leonard does "quality checks" by showing up unannounced to observe unit PT sessions ensuring the PTLs are providing quality physical training for their Airmen and reports his findings to unit's commanders.

Thanks to the determination of Altus Airmen and the leadership of their PTLs, Altus's currency rate is 94.66 percent, well exceeding the Air Education and Training Command goal of 90 percent.