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Fitness Tips from Active-Duty Miss America

  • Published
  • By Miriam Thurber
  • Air Force Recruiting Service

Some days 2nd Lt. Madison Marsh wears her Air Force uniform, and other days she dons sash and crown as Miss America 2024. One day, Marsh will reach for combat boots, and the next she’ll grab heels, but, most often, Marsh laces up a pair of well-worn sneakers.

As an active-duty officer, Marsh works out daily to maintain the Air Force’s physical fitness standards and to pass the regular fitness tests. Although her schedule as Miss America 2024 keeps her on the road most weeks, Marsh still finds time to prioritize an active lifestyle, even from a hotel room.

“It’s difficult to stay consistent while on the road,” Marsh said. “I’ve noticed that if I slack off for a week, it’s very difficult to get back into it.”

Nevertheless, fitness remains a cornerstone of Marsh’s daily practice, whether that means a long session in a gym or a quick workout in her hotel room using just her bodyweight. Marsh credits her fitness-focused mentality to her mom who passed from pancreatic cancer in 2018.

“It was humbling to watch my mom keep running every day, even while she was battling cancer,” Marsh said. “I kept thinking—what’s my excuse?”

For both Marsh and her mother, fitness is about more than looking good. To them, curating an active and healthy lifestyle allows you to live longer, to keep your heart healthy and to fight illness. It’s about starting where you are, giving yourself grace and working day-in and day-out to be your best.

For anyone looking to adopt a fitness-focused lifestyle, Marsh offers five pieces of advice:

  1. Everyone starts somewhere. Even after years in the gym, Marsh still experiments with new exercises, machines and fitness goals. Everyone is learning, so, according to Marsh, there’s no reason to be self-conscious.
  2. Every day is a new day. Did you miss one day in the gym? No problem. Did you forget to drink enough water? Don’t sweat it. “Today is a new day, and you can wake up and choose better habits!” Marsh said.
  3. Nutrition is key. For years, Marsh dedicated herself to working out but saw no results because she didn’t prioritize what she put into her body. She only noticed a real difference in how she felt—both in and out of the gym— after she focused on eating the right proteins and making intentional decisions at meals.
  4. A fit lifestyle doesn’t just mean looking fit. Like her mother, Marsh views fitness as a path to health, not a means to changing your appearance. “The gym was so much more than just a look to my mom,” Marsh said. “It kept her sane and gave her better odds in her battle against cancer. That is the mentality I keep in my mind every time I work out.”
  5. Consistency brings results. While on the road, Marsh has noticed that taking days off makes it difficult to jump back into a fitness routine. Even when her location or access to equipment limits what she can do, she still finds value in shorter or machine-less workouts. Time that she spends exercising in any way prepares her for harder days in large gyms, and everything—even the shorter workouts—help achieve her fitness goals.

For more details on Air Force fitness standards, visit the Air Force’s fitness guide. If you would like to serve alongside Marsh, visit to connect with a recruiter near you, or, if you would like to explore the Air Force’s most physically-demanding career fields, check out open jobs in Air Force Special Warfare.