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Hawaii-based Sailors Test Changes During Physical Fitness Assessment Study

191007-N-XG173-1126

10/18/19

Story by Seaman Aja Jackson, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii 

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM - Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of the year again: physical fitness assessment season. As we’re surrounded by the unwavering dedication of command fitness leaders and the Sailors within each command, one can’t help but get in to the fitness spirit. On May 29, the former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson visited Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and announced the addition of the 2-kilometer row cardio option and forearm plank that will replace the curl-up. On Oct. 7, Sailors gathered in the fitness center on base to commence the testing of the new workout metrics. 

The study consisted of three different days of exercise. Day one focused on introducing Sailors to the 2-kilometer row, practicing the correct rowing technique. On day two, the Sailors performed pushups, the forearm plank and the 12-minute bike assessment. Day three focused on pushups, the forearm plank and the second trial of the 2-kilometer row. A big focus during this study was how Sailors perform the new plank as opposed to the curl-ups. 

“The plank allows you to build that core strength,” said Lt. Cmdr. Melissa Laird, the work sponsor of the study from the 21st Century Sailor office. “It’s really a better test and better modality to assess that core strength than the curl-up is. It works on giving you good posture and it also has less chance of aggravating low back injuries which you can see with the curl-up.” 

Laird also said that adopting a new form of cardio within the PFA allows Sailors an alternative to the standard 1.5-mile run. The rower uses approximately 70% of the body’s musculature so it provides a good cardiovascular workout that is low impact. 

Sailors representing multiple commands volunteered to be the test subjects for this study. A seamless transition into adopting these two modalities for the PFA in the year 2020 is the end goal according to Laird. 

Mr. Jay Heaney, a research physiologist from the Naval Health Research Center and the principle investigator for the study, explained the process of gathering the information from the Sailors’ performance and how it will be applied to the new PFA. 

“We try to get as many people as we can within the age groups by gender,” said Heaney. “Then we look for what the norms are; what the high, medium and low scores are. From that, we will develop what the scoring metrics are for the different categories of the PFA.” 

Heaney said that the Navy is trying to put a bigger emphasis on physical fitness as ship- based Sailors are required to climb ladderways and do a lot of heavy lifting throughout their workday. 

“I volunteered because I wanted to see what the new PFA would look like,” said Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 3rd Class Amanda Zwiebel. “Not only to prepare myself but to prepare my peers and my command.” 

According to Heaney, at the end of the day, it is important that our service members have complete physical readiness. The addition of two new workouts to the PFA helps the U.S. Navy move in the right direction.

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