By Staff Sgt. Josh Clendenen, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 12, 2003
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN) -- Many organizations here have active group fitness programs. Some airmen head to the fitness center to play volleyball, while others go there and do timed push-ups and sit-ups.
Each month, Space and Missile Systems Center Detachment 11 and Electronic Systems Center Detachment 5 airmen come together for a group fitness day. Events typically range from football or basketball to soccer or volleyball.
During December, they developed and organized a race adapted from the television reality game show “The Amazing Race.” In the television version, teams race around the world competing in various athletic and mental challenges. Building on that premise, the airmen designed a course that took teams around the base to compete in a wide variety of challenges.
“The Amazing Race has what they call ‘detours and roadblocks,’” said Capt. Josh Johnson, of Det. 11. “At a detour, a team must choose between one of two tasks to complete in order to advance to the next leg of the race. A roadblock is a task that only one of the two (team members) has to complete.
“We kept the detour concept exactly the same for our race, but since we have six teams with 20 members each, we had to modify the roadblock into a task that all team members had to accomplish,” he said.
The first step in preparing for the race was planning and laying out the course. Most of the events were planned to take place indoors to minimize the airmen’s exposure to the elements in case of inclement weather.
“I was amazed at the overwhelming cooperation from all the base agencies I talked to,” Johnson said. “Once I explained what we wanted to do, everyone thought it was a great idea. A few people were huge fans of the TV show and were really excited about the concept.”
After nearly a month of getting permissions, making reservations, building race props and training monitors, the race was ready to go.
“All six of our teams showed up at the fitness center and met at the starting line in the center of the track,” Johnson said. “Once we started the race, teams competed in a number of events, racing from point to point trying to get back to the fitness center as fast as they could.”
Once the race started, participants received their first detour and either ran to the bowling center where they bowled for strikes and spares or they were off to the officers club to play waiter.
“At the … club, the teams had to disassemble 32 place settings, move four tables across the room and then reset all the tables exactly as they were on the opposite side of the room. They weren’t allowed to leave until everything was perfect,” Johnson said. “Once they finished that, they were off to the base auditorium for their first roadblock, which was an Air Force trivia challenge, followed by push-ups.”
The teams were given tests on Air Force-related subjects. Once teams answered 10 questions correctly they were allowed to proceed to the push-up phase of the challenge; however, if they were wrong, a penalty was added to their race time. Once the teams answered their questions, they received their second detour and were off to the parade field for a puzzle construction challenge or the base exchange for a scavenger hunt.
“At the parade field, we had 4-foot-by-8-foot puzzles that the teams had to find blindfolded. Once they found all the pieces, they could assemble the puzzle,” Johnson said.
At the BX, the scavenger hunt had the airmen look for things like cookbooks, paint thinner and balloons. Once they located all the items on their list, they received their second roadblock which sent them hunting for rooms in the dorms followed by sit-ups, he said.
The final detour of the race was a Frisbee disc throwing challenge or a stretcher-carry task.
“The teams had to move 11 Frisbee (discs) from one end of the base picnic grounds to the other end, without running or walking with the (disc) and without dropping (it),” Johnson said.
“Once they had all 11 Frisbee (discs) at the end point, they headed back to the fitness center to cross the finish line,” he said.
The stretcher-carry involved each team learning how to properly use a stretcher, then two team members had to use the stretcher to rescue the rest of their teammates. Once a team member was rescued, he or she was allowed to help rescue the others. After everyone was rescued, the team headed for the finish line, he said.
“We want to make it fun and interesting so our people look forward to coming out,” Johnson said. “We also wanted to pull off something really big since this was our last (fitness) event for the year.”
The unit program is only a starting block to get people in the mindset that they need to workout and to have fun doing it, officials said.
“There are a number of people who benefit from the program,” said Capt. Ali Highsmith, of Det. 11. “The benefit of these events is it brings out the competitive nature of our people. (They all seem) to enjoy going out and competing against their peers and supervisors. It gives them bragging rights.”
Although the program is only mandatory for military members, the team said they encourage Department of Defense civilians to come out and participate as well.
“The premise … is to build esprit de corps, increase morale and instill the benefit of fitness into our daily lives,” said 1st Lt. Brenda Burge, of Det. 22. “We know when a warfighter is physically fit, (he or she is) also mentally prepared to handle the day-to-day stress of accomplishing the Air Force mission. We believe fitness is the key to that mission accomplishment, so we don’t draw the line between (a) military member and civilian. We want everyone to come out and get in shape and have a little fun.”
With fun and competitiveness being the starting point, the rest seems to flow rather smoothly, Johnson said.
“You don’t have to be bored when you go to the fitness center to get in shape,” Johnson said. “With a little imagination and planning, you can put together something that everyone will have fun participating in.”