SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Command Fitness Leaders are conducting this year's Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) while implementing recent changes from the Navywide Physical Readiness Test (PRT) instruction.
This is the first PRT cycle implementing policies outlined in NAVADMIN 141/17, which include an incentive for Sailors to excel in their fitness performance to be exempt from one PRT each year.
To be eligible Sailors must pass the body composition assessment (BCA), within the Navy age-graduates body fat standards, and score an overall "excellent low" or better on the PRT with no single section of test that is lower than a "good low" will be exempt from participation in the next test.
However, all Sailors, regardless of their PRT performance, will still be required to participate and pass the BCA, each cycle.
As a NMCSD assistant command fitness leader (ACFL), Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Michael Hunter keeps track of physical fitness assessments for 3700 Sailors at the command. Out of 3700 Sailors, 1500 Sailors completed the second PRT cycle in 2017 with an overall "excellent" score. These Sailors will have the option to skip this cycles PRT.
"If you maintain your fitness and get a good score, it is a good incentive," said Hunter.
In addition, 98.6 percent of Sailors at NMCSD passed the last PFA cycle, a much higher statistic compared to 2017 cycle 1.
This year, "we are having significantly less people come in because people are taking the exemptions," said Hunter.
NMCSD ACFLs also said the new PRT instruction allows them to spend less time on paperwork and more time preparing Sailors to pass the PFA. "It's just a lighter administration burden," said Hunter. "We can use free time to help with Sailors who are enrolled in the Fitness Enhancement Program or update PFA scores faster."
NMCSD ACFLs say Sailors at NMCSD who have received an overall score of excellence from the last PFA cycle have also made the choice to participate instead of choosing to be exempt from this cycle's PFA. "There are Sailors who are exempt but are still doing the PFA," said Hunter. "It's a personal pride thing. I've talked to Sailors and they say that they don't want to see the exempt code on their evaluation and prefer to see consistent scores."
Sailors who choose to be exempt from this cycle and pass the BCA receive a one-letter PFA code of "B" on their evaluation or fitness reports. According to the Navy Evaluation Performance System (BUPERS Instruction 1610.10D), PFA code "B" means "passed BCA but was authorized non-participation in the PRT for other than medical reasons."
"It really does not change the evaluation process or make it more difficult," said Hunter. "You can still rank Sailors exactly the same."
The Navy PFT score is calculated by averaging the scores of three fitness events. Participants can choose to run, bike, or swim and are required to perform push-ups and curl-ups.
Another change this year, the Navy has eliminated the use of elliptical machines as an alternate cardio device because of low-usage across the fleet during previous PRT cycles. For example, less than 4 percent of the Navy uses the elliptical for the PRT.
"Elliptical is very hard to pass," said Hunter, who has been a command ACFL for four cycles. "Historical records at the command show that the amount of Sailors who use the elliptical is a very small number."
In addition to eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis, ACFLs said that Sailors can take advantage of some of the nutrition and fitness-focused classes held at NMCSD's Health and Wellness Center.
"Health and Wellness Center offers the largest Ship-Shape program at this command," said Hunter. Instructors "teach you to how to cook, how to eat, and how to exercise for your body."
Sailors can also choose to participate in the mock PFA, held once a month during FEP sessions at NMCSD.
This year also marks the first time that NMCSD ACFLs are using iPads to gather Sailors culture of fitness information during BCA sessions, as part of NMCSD's public health program.
"The iPads are used to ask Sailors and survey general health questions from food servings to smoking," said Hunter. "The public health program is specific to the command."
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Brian Yocum has been an ACFL for four different commands and said that incentives found in the new PFA instruction are long overdue
"Sailors will be more motivated," said Yocum. Yocum also said that he looks forward to seeing how, "this new instruction will continue to keep good Sailors in the Navy."
For more information on Naval Medical Center San Diego Health and Wellness, call (619) 532-6573.
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