Civilian aims for nothing less than PT perfection

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Sweat pours down his face as his heart palpitates so hard it feels as if it will explode from his chest. The only thing beating harder than his heart is the music in his ears, which is muting the sound of his heavy breathing and blocking the pain in his lungs. Then, after nine minutes exactly, he crosses the finish line at the 1.5-mile mark. He has done it. He has just achieved a perfect score on the Air Force physical fitness test.

Mr. Eric Thayer, 97th Force Support Squadron section chief of the Airman and Family Readiness Center here, scored 100 percent on the AF physical fitness test for the seventh consecutive time May 9.

"I'm proud that I am 46 years old and I am as good, maybe even a little bit better than some of the younger Airmen I see at the gym," Mr. Thayer said. "It makes me feel good - not to brag - but I have put a lot of hard work into this and I am proud of myself."

Mr. Thayer began taking the AF fitness test in 2004 when he became a Department of Defense employee at Eielson AFB. When he saw the requirements for the test, he believed he could score well and he did. After receiving 100 percent on his first test he made a personal goal to achieve the same score annually.

"I have always felt that I'm a member of the squadron just like anyone else who is on active duty. I think that civilians should have to maintain a certain fitness level as well," Mr. Thayer said.

A selection of upbeat music such as, "Eye of the Tiger" and "Life is a Highway" keeps Mr. Thayer motivated during his workouts. He weight trains three times a week and runs at least once or twice per week. When training for the physical fitness test, he slightly alters his workouts.

"When I specifically start training for the fitness test I need to focus on speed. I do push-ups and sit-ups at the gym and focus on doing as many as I can as fast as I can. The run is probably my hardest element. I go out on the highway and sprint and rest and then sprint again. When I am training for the fitness test I run three miles and try to increase my speed," Mr. Thayer explained.

Before joining the Army at age 17, Mr. Thayer says he never worked out at all, but once he graduated basic training he never stopped.

"I was skin and bones when I was 17 - no muscle what so ever. It took me a long time to get bigger and I knew that I would never be Mr. Olympia," Mr. Thayer said. "I started focusing on sculpting and weight training and it paid off for me. My body responded very well to that kind of training."

Looking at Mr. Thayer, someone would not likely guess he is 46 years old. His physique is evidence of his dedication to fitness. The only hint of his age is his slightly graying hair.

Col. Jim Peccia, 97th Mission Support Group commander, said Mr. Thayer's dedication to fitness motivates him, as they are both the same age.

"I'm incredibly proud of him. I felt pretty good saying, 'Yeah I'm 46, I'll never get there,' and (Eric) said 'So am I.' I'm really proud of him and his efforts to maintain his fitness," Colonel Peccia said.

Mr. Thayer shared some advice about how people can improve their overall fitness.

First stop smoking and drinking, Mr. Thayer said. Once someone has stopped smoking and drinking they should then take a look at their diet or go see the Health and Wellness Center to set up a diet plan. Once the former have been completed people can begin exercising.

"He is very focused on fitness. He contacted me about five or six months ago, and he's been working incredibly hard for those five or six months to make sure he could succeed to get a 100," Colonel Peccia said.

Mr. Thayer intends on continuing to train hard and achieving his eighth perfect fitness score next year.