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US Navy cancels fitness tests for rest of 2020 over coronavirus

Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 stretch during command physical training at Naval Air Station North Island. Sailors around the fleet participate in physical training to maintain fitness and prepare for periodic physical readiness tests. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee/Released)
July 10, 2020

The U.S. Navy has canceled its remaining physical fitness tests for all personnel for the rest of 2020, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Navy issued an administrative message announcing the decision to cut the Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) for the second half of 2020.

“The COVID-19 situation requires that we continue to minimize risk to personnel, therefore all personnel will be ‘EXCUSED’ from participation in PFA Cycle 2, 2020,” the Navy message said.

The Navy further indicated that its decision included the suspension of both the Body Composition Assessment (BCA) and Physical Readiness Test (PRT) components of the service’s fitness assessment. The Navy decision also suspends organized or group physical training sessions, except as a component of recruit training or unit mission training, and to train for retention eligibility.

The Navy indicated units could administer a “Mock PFA” when and where conditions permit, in accordance with local coronavirus guidelines. The Navy said those mock fitness tests must also consist of no more than 10 people and units must ensure medical screenings. Those administering and undergoing the body composition portion of the test must also wear masks and disinfect measurement equipment.

The Navy similarly canceled PFA requirements in another administrative message in March, as the U.S. began to enter its first coronavirus related lockdowns.

Despite the recent decision to extend the decision to suspend fitness testing for the Navy, the chief of naval personnel, Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr., encouraged service members to continue to maintain their physical fitness on their own where possible.

“COVID-19 may have shut down a lot of the base gyms, but there are a lot of exercises you could do at home to stay in shape,” Nowell said in a video shared to Facebook on Tuesday. “Planks are one of them.”

“Cancelling the PRT should not be seen as an excuse to not exercise whenever and wherever possible,” Nowell said. “Do some planks at home, go jogging, eat healthy. Do what I do here; I run up and down a stairwell as a poor man’s elliptical when nobody else is in the building.”

Nowell added, “Whatever you need to do to do your best to stay in shape and within our physical fitness standards is what we expect you to do and you’ll also find that will make you feel better.”

In April, the U.S. Marine Corps also announced suspended fitness test requirements for the remainder of 2020.

In May the U.S. Air Force announced it had postponed fitness tests until October.

In June, the U.S. Army also announced it had postponed fitness tests until October.