Fitness revolution improves human performance, reduces risk of injury

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katie McKee
  • 82d TRW Public Affairs

In a proactive move to improve the overall health of Airmen in training and improve their performance on fitness tests at their first duty station, the 365th Training Squadron has implemented a groundbreaking physical fitness program called Sheppard Physical Education and Readiness – SPEAR . Tasked by the 2nd Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Richard Blue and Staff Sgt. Cordell Sebasto innovated this approach that has yielded impressive results and is transforming the way Airmen build and maintain their physical fitness.


“We’re really trying to educate the Airmen here about the Human Performance concept as a whole,” said Sebasto, a heavy avionics instructor. “That’s why the program is Sheppard Physical Education and Readiness. It’s not just about PT.”

Unlike the conventional PT sessions that involved long-distance running and generic conditioning, the SPEAR program focuses on smaller, more personalized groups. Physical Training Leaders work closely with Airmen, offering guidance and form correction. According to Sebasto, this approach ensures Airmen are not only getting a better, more efficient workout but also reducing the risk of injuries due to improper form.

“Our military training leaders and physical training leaders aren’t just out there watching the Airmen,” said Blue, 365th flight chief. “They compete with our Airmen, encourage them, motivate them and also correct their form.”

The program’s focus in not limited to the drill pad. The squadron worked closely with nutrition experts from the 82nd Medical Group and used feedback from the Airmen themselves to revamp what’s on offer at snack bars in the unit.

The SPEAR program's impact has been nothing short of remarkable, according to Sebasto.

“After three months of beta testing, PT scores continued to go up,” he said. “We found the 40:1 ratio between PTLs and Airmen with workouts like circuit and high intensity interval training were improving scores because the exercises were better and they were actually enjoying it.”

In a surprising and positive side effect, the SPEAR program has contributed to a decrease in the consumption of energy drinks. Airmen participating in these smaller group sessions have reported feeling more engaged, awake and motivated during class throughout the rest of the duty day. The result is that many are no longer relying on sugary, caffeinated beverages to stay alert.

Though SPEAR is still technically a trial program, these early successes are already causing squadron leadership to consider full implementation.

“This started as a trial, but with the positive feedback from instructors and Airmen in Training, we’re leaning towards the permanent change as a squadron,” said Maj. John Delaura, commander of the 365th TRS. “Hopefully, we’re doing our part by giving healthier Airmen to the Air Force with habits they can continue to build on and carry with them.”

For Blue and Sebasto, the spirit of innovation that created the program is also one of its best ongoing features.

“We sat in a room for hours trying to decide the best gameplan moving forward and develop the most effective approach to this initiative,” said Blue. “It’s been molded so many times and by no means is it perfect. We’re still making corrections and it’s always going to be evolving.”

Data from the SPEAR trial will be analyzed by the wing and 2nd Air Force, and if early indicators hold true some or all of the program could be implemented across the technical training enterprise.