Story and photos by MC2 Michael Doan, PAO, NAF Atsugi
Fitness plays a crucial role in the U.S. Navy with Sailors required to complete a physical readiness test (PRT) twice a year. The PRT is conducted by trained professionals called command fitness leaders (CFL). This role is filled by Sailors who must first complete a CFL certification course. Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fitness Leader Stacy Gartner, a native of Hickory, N.C., hosted a CFL certification course for Sailors from NAF Atsugi and tenant commands from Jan. 14-18. The 40 hour program combines equal parts instructional lessons and physical training.
“On the first day they come in, we do their body composition assessment (BCA) and a PRT,” said Gartner. “Once we finish that, we have an exercise session where they learn some of the dynamic warm ups that we do throughout the CFL course.” For CFLs and Sailors, it is very important to know what standards they must conform to and how to accurately measure those standards. “Make sure you show interest in the program and familiarize yourself with all the instructions and NAVADMINS,” said CFL Master-at-Arms First Class Brandon Shambaugh, a native of Mechanicsburg, Penn. “This program changes frequently and a wrong measurement can drastically affect a Sailors career.”
Physical readiness is essential and not taking it seriously can mean ramifications as a Sailor progresses through the ranks. “We also talk about the administrative actions,” said Gartner. “What happens if a Sailor scores a certain range on their PFA? What are the repercussions for not passing the PRT? This also includes what the Sailor can do if they do not pass and what the commands have set in place to help those Sailors maintain certain physical requirements. Also, we discuss how to work command PT into the regular work week.”
These are all important questions. Some Sailors who show interest in becoming a CFL might not have thought of how fitness impacts the readiness of the Navy. “As warfighters, we as a team need to ensure we are ready for anything regardless of our rate,” said Shambaugh. “The Navy fitness program is there to ensure a minimum standard is met and that we instill healthy lifestyle habits.”
When it comes to staying within standards, some Sailors may only think about the time they spend in the gym and not their unhealthy eating habits. “I think our culture is seeing an obesity trend and as it starts to impact humans on a health level, the military will start to adopt healthier lifestyle management,” said Gartner.
Gartner went on to explain a part of the CFL certification course intended to make Sailors more mindful of how they fuel their bodies. “On the very first day, the homework we give the students is a nutrition log,” said Gartner. “We send them home with it and ask them to fill it out from that morning until that evening. When they bring it in the next day, a lot of people are surprised to see what their eating habits are. Keeping track of what you are eating by filling out a nutrition log really puts it into perspective.
This is just another tool they have at their disposal when helping Sailors.” “When Sailors leave the CFL course,” said Gartner. “They can leave with knowledge that is like a toolbox to help anybody, whether it be modifying an exercise, sending a Sailor to a dietician or a smoking cessation class. They can sit down with a Sailor and point them in the right direction.”