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New in 2021: Navy physical fitness assessments will start up again

The Navy is poised to resume physical fitness assessments starting in March 2021 — a year after the service first announced it was postponing the PFA due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr. announced in November that the PFA would kick off in March 2021, rather than January 2021 as initially planned. And rather than conduct two PFA cycles in 2021 as is customary, Nowell said the Navy is instead going to conduct one cycle next year.

“January is still right in the middle of flu season and so we are close to the formal approval to go ahead and get the word out that we will do one cycle next year,” Nowell said during a Facebook live “town hall” event. “It will start toward the middle of March — so after flu season, when it’s warm enough — as we look at doing it for about six months, through September, so you can get outside and do it, mitigate that risk.”

Another change coming in 2021 to the physical readiness test is that sailors will now do planks instead of curl ups. Although the change was in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exercise has some benefits in a COVID-world.

“We’re going to do planks, not curl ups, so you won’t be in someone’s face … that then kind of keeps you pretty safe,” Nowell said.

Likewise, sailors will also have the option to use the rowing machine as another cardio option for the first time when they take the PRT next year.

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