As with any military arm the Royal New Zealand Air Force requires her air-men and -women (A&A) to be operationally fit at all times. This fitness is tested on a regular basis and failing the test has a few consequences that get steadily more serious the longer you take to pass until you're finally kicked out and have to find another job.
When I first joined it was called the Two-mile Run Test. It was pretty straight forward - run for two miles in under a given time. For a woman of seventeen to twenty nine years we had to complete it in under 17:30mins just to pass (an F2), or under 16:00 minutes for a superior (F1). Earning an F1 meant the test remained current for a year and the person wouldn't have to re-sit for a full twelve months. Those of us who could never quite make that sub-sixteen time were relegated to the ranks of the six-month re-tests. Frustratingly, at my most fit (in my life) I managed sixteen minutes and eleven seconds.
As time went by people began to question the run test. They believed it wasn't an accurate representation of a person's ability to perform 'in the field,' as it were. Someone who could run two miles in under twelve minutes wasn't necessarily capable of lugging a pack, a rifle and a whole lot of water around Afghanistan. So the test was changed to the Operational Fitness Test. F1 and F2 still have twelve- and six-month recurrences respectively, but the requirements for achieving each are a little different now.
Just to pass I need to pump out sixteen push ups followed immediately by a 5km walk with 20kg (10kg vest + 10kg belt) in under 46:30mins. A superior is 22 push ups and the walk in under 44:30 mins.
The push ups aren't just any old push ups either. They are ruthlessly enforced, they have to go low enough, they have to go high enough, they have to be continuous and the body can't be allowed to drop or rise out of alignment. Check out the Operational Fitness Test video on this page to see what they look like.
Now let me put it all into perspective for you:
Hi, my name is Sez. I like sitting in the sun, reading books, watching movies, kicking around on the internet and generally doing f-all. I enjoy food, especially ice cream and other desserts. I play cricket in the summer, but I'm not a strong batter so I don't really need to run around a lot. In fact I very much play a game of standing outside in the sunshine day dreaming for four hours. I hate running, and avoid it at all costs. When I was still playing hockey, I was the Goal Keeper. I only go to the gym when it's compulsory. Given a choice between going for a walk on the beach and playing a game of Guitar Hero, I will always choose the latter.
BUT! (and it's a big but!) As much as I hate exercise. As often as I feel sick and nervous when I remember on the way home that when I get there I have to "do my push ups" and as little cardio exercise as I do, yesterday I did 23 push ups and walked the 5km in 39:26.
Hi, my name is Sez. I have been in the Air Force for ten and a half years and yesterday I achieved my very first F1.
That is why every muscle in my body hurts like hell today.