Alexandra asked me to help her pass the RAF fitness test as the requirements had seemed miles away for her. Read how she went from hating exercise to passing the test comfortably.
Alexandra had a dream goal, she wanted to join the RAF. She had graduated from University with a modern languages degree, wanted a career where she could use her degree but not do a 9-5 job sitting behind a desk. The RAF certainly offered her the opportunity she was looking for!
There was one small problem. She needed to pass the fitness test but was someone who hates sport and pushing herself too hard!
The requirements of the test were:
- 10 press ups in 1 minute
- 32 sit ups in 1 minute
- 2.4km run in 13 minutes 23 seconds
A Different Strategy
This was an interesting challenge for me as I was going to need Alexandra to get out of her comfort zone, without feeling like she was getting out of her comfort zone!
I was going to need a different strategy as in our first session, I took her through the elements of the fitness test to see where she was at. She ran the 2.4km in around 17 minutes.
This was going to be the challenge but one I was as excited about as Alexandra was! Interestingly, her press ups were the best I’ve ever seen from anyone in their first session. This is very rare, especially for someone who hates exercising! Her sit ups were also good so I didn’t need to worry too much about them.
The challenge wasn’t just about trying to get Alexandra running faster during our session, but also to create something that she could practice herself between sessions.
My first strategy was to get her body moving better. This is something I do with every client but with Alexandra, the focus was on running so we worked on creating more movement in her hips and back.
When you have more range of movement, you can run more efficiently and be able to run faster without working harder. This worked very well and we quickly got her time down to just over 14 minutes. We still had a bit to go.
Mind Over Matter
I found Steve’s help in dealing with the psychological aspects of exercise incredibly useful. It was difficult for me to push myself to improve, but Steve helped to frame the exercise in the context of helping me achieve my ultimate goal of joining the RAF. This helped me (somewhat!) to replace my dislike of running with my want to join the air force, which made the whole thing a lot easier to cope with!
To take the extra step in order to improve on her time, I got Alexandra to focus on why she wanted to join the RAF. For so long, the goal had been something in the distance but as the test drew closer, she needed a clear focus.
We also drew on strategies she’d used before when she was at uni and her approach to submitting coursework on time. This was something she was very familiar with and this made a huge difference. When she transferred those emotions of feeling under pressure to her running, she instantly took a minute off her times and was well within her target.
There’s one thing being able to meet the standards for the fitness test in the park and another doing it under supervision from a stranger in a gym she wasn’t familiar with.
I got her to paint a picture in her mind of why she wanted to join the RAF so that she could focus on this whilst running on the treadmill. I also got her into the way of thinking that she was going there to do a job. This strategy is effective at eliminating nerves or excitement and stay focused to do what she was there to do.
She ran the 2.4km in under 13 minutes then still went on to pass the press ups and sit ups tests.
it was helpful just to think of it as a job that needed doing, and remembering the work/techniques we’d done last time helped too. It was very helpful to picture my goals / a career in the RAF on the wall in front of me – it gave me something to focus on and run towards
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