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LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.-- Anne Jennings, Health and Wellness Center health fitness specialist, reads data from a Bod Pod test that Senior Airman Sylvia Olson, 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs journalist, took part in March 9. The Bod Pod measures body mass, or weight, and body volume using air displacement technology. Using these two variables, body density is computed and used with an equation to provide body composition information. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dana Hill)
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BOD POD provides fitness reality check

Posted 3/15/2010   Updated 3/23/2010 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Sylvia Olson
633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/15/2010 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Oblong, egg-shaped and big enough for one person, the BOD POD resembles a miniature spaceship out of a science-fiction movie. The machine landed in Langley's Health and Wellness Center Jan. 15, to give Airmen accurate information on their fitness progress.

The BOD POD measures body mass, or weight, and body volume using air displacement technology. Using these two variables, body density is computed and used with an equation to provide body composition information.

"It's a great tool for tracking progress and helping people with weight loss," said Monica Cohen, HAWC exercise physiologist. "Based on your results, you can take your fitness training to the next level."

In February, 73 people used the BOD POD, and it is steadily gaining popularity, Cohen said. The machine is used at universities for research and in hospitals, and costs $45 or more per test session, but is available for free at the HAWC.

Cohen asked if I would like to try the BOD POD, and I gladly accepted the opportunity because I was curious about my body composition.

Before taking the test, Anne Jennings, HAWC health fitness specialist, reminded me to remove all jewelry, and provided a swim cap for me to wear. The cap must be worn to compress any air pockets within your hair, she said.

Following the guidelines of wearing minimal, form-fitting clothing, I wore a swimsuit. It is recommended people wear a swimsuit or spandex, single-layer compression shorts, or lightweight jogging bras without padding or wires, Jennings said.

I was also asked when I had last exercised or had anything to eat; because individuals are required to wait two hours after eating or exercising before testing.

Having followed all necessary policies, Jennings led me to the BOD POD room, which consisted of the BOD POD, a scale and a computer. She typed my name and height into the computer, then asked me step on the scale. After the computer calculated my weight, she opened the pod for me, and I sat inside.

Contrary to its appearance, the pod is quite spacious. It is designed to accommodate a wide variety of people of all shapes and sizes, Jennings said. The pod is built to fit a person up to 7-feet tall, or weighs up to 550 pounds.

She showed me the green emergency button below the seat, which I could press at anytime to stop the test. Once she ensured I was comfortable, she shut the pod door and asked me to sit still.

During the two or three minute calculation, I felt a little air moving around inside. Overall, the process was easy, painless and quick.

Afterward, Jennings handed me the printed results. It stated my body composition, including body fat percentage, fat-free mass percentage and weight. It also provided my body-fat rating with an explanation, and my energy expenditure results based on my daily activity level, which I provided earlier.

"For many it can be a sobering experience," Cohen said. "It shows people whether or not their training programs or lifestyle changes are working." Other reactions include shock and surprise, when results are much higher or lower than guessed, Cohen added.

"Sometimes people are in a state of denial about their body," Cohen said. "The BOD POD is highly accurate, so it serves as a reality check."

The test administrator helps individuals take the BOD POD results and apply them to their lifestyle. The HAWC has a variety of programs Airmen can utilize to with their fitness efforts, Jennings said.

The BOD POD is available by appointment for Service members, dependents, retirees and all base personnel on Fridays. For groups of five or more, including whole units, an alternate day may be scheduled. To make an appointment, call the HAWC at 764-6321. For more information, visit

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