Navy shifts 2021 fitness cycle to July

Shifting the physical fitness assessment (PFA) cycle to July allows the Navy to execute the PFA after the primary influenza season, while allowing time for COVID-19 vaccines to be more widely distributed.

The Navy is shifting the dates of the single, six-month physical fitness assessment cycle during calendar year 2021 to July 1 through December 31, to continue to mitigate COVID-19 impacts to the fleet.

The single 2021 cycle was initially announced in November’s NAVADMIN 304/20 and was originally scheduled for March 1 through Sept. 30. That message is now cancelled and replaced by NAVADMIN 024/21, which shifts the dates between July 1 and Dec. 31. The new message was released on Jan. 27.

“Shifting the PFA cycle to July allows the Navy to execute the PFA after the primary influenza season while allowing time for COVID-19 vaccines to be more widely distributed,” Vice Adm. John B Nowell, Jr., the chief of naval personnel, wrote in the message.

COVID-19 prevention efforts resulted in the cancellation of both of 2020’s semi-annual Physical Fitness Assessments. Out of an abundance of caution, the Navy decided to proceed with a single cycle for 2021 as the COVID pandemic is showing no signs of abating yet.

The Department of Defense has long mandated all services conduct annual fitness testing. That mandate for fitness testing means that no exemptions will be allowed for those who scored excellent or above from the previous 2019 cycle. However, going forward, those who score excellent or outstanding on the 2021 PFA will be exempt from participation in the first PFA cycle of 2022.

A new Physical Readiness Program Guide 15 has been produced outlining just how to conduct all testing to mitigate the possibility of spreading the COVID-19 virus. It is now available for download on the Physical Readiness Program Website.

Twice annual testing cycles are expected to resume as permitted and it is hoped that will happen during calendar year 2022.

What’s not changing is the cycle’s big updates to the Physical Readiness Test (PRT). The rollout of the forearm plank, which will replace the curl-up as a test of core strength, and the introduction of the 2000-meter row as a new optional cardio event, will go on as planned.

The 2021 cycle will also be the first for data entry into the new Physical Readiness Information Management System 2 (PRIMS 2). The Navy is currently migrating the legacy PRIMS data to the new system’s database as part of MyNavy HR transformation efforts. This new system will bring the data management for the PFA into the 21st century and also make the process easier for CFLs.

The migration means that all commands will need to provide up-to-date Command Fitness Leader Certification in the new system. Training for commands on the new system is expected to start sometime in February and all command leaders requiring read only access will be able to request their access “in the March timeframe,” the message said.

More information, including guides for conducting a COVID-19 safe fitness test along with initial performance standards for scoring the forearm plank and 2000-meter row are available to both individuals and command fitness leaders on the Navy Physical Readiness Program website at https://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/physical/Pages/default2.aspx.