The Navy is cutting physical fitness tests for the remainder of the year amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19, after already canceling the spring cycle of the physical fitness assessment in March.

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

“Suspension includes both the official Body Composition Assessment and Physical Readiness Test components of the PFA,” the NAVADMIN said.

Organized or group physical training will also remain suspended, although some exemptions apply for recruit training or unit mission training requirements.

However, the Navy will start permitting sailors to conduct mock PFAs if they need to regain advancement and retention eligibility — provided local, installation and other COVID-19 guidelines are in place. Limitations include keeping mock PFAs to no more than 10 people and conducting temperature checks.

Despite the pause, the hold on fitness tests is no reason to stop working out, according to Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr., chief of naval personnel

“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 released Tuesday. “Planks are one of them.”

That’s because some changes will be underway when the Navy does start up fitness tests again in January 2021. One of those changes is swapping out curl-ups for planks.

“It’s something I do every morning,” Nowell said. “I’ve shifted from curl-ups to planks — it’s much healthier for you. That’s why we’re going to it.”

Nowell, who has been doing two sets of planks totaling about six minutes, said the scoring tables for planks will start out at around one minute and then will max out around three and half minutes.

“If an old dude like me can do it, trust me, you can,” Nowell said.

Planks are not the only change sailors can expect when the PFA resumes next year. Sailors will also have the rowing machine at their disposal as another cardio option.

Nowell, whose cardio routine has included running up and down a stairwell as a “poor mans” elliptical, emphasized that sailors do need to start prepping their bodies for the PFA now and noted that sailors could download free fitness apps from the Navy App Locker.

“Canceling 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 … 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.”

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