PFA Cycle – Thoughts to Consider

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                Once again, the PFA is upon all of us.  Twice a year our physical fitness is tested using a series of exercises, body composition analysis and even a physical health assessment.  For some, they dust off their sneakers and workout gear twice a year and for others, the PFA is just another day in the gym.  Regardless of whether or not you are the twice-a-year guy or an everyday type, the PFA is critically important to your career and ultimately, your health.
                In an effort to support a healthy lifestyle and an overall culture of fitness, the Navy continues to refine its message regarding alcohol, tobacco and exercise.  This is one of the many reasons that we see “dry” Navy events, such as unit gatherings, as well as an increasing amount of “healthy choices” on menus.  Ultimately, the reality is that we need to “Be Ready” as citizen Sailors and we will have a harder time doing just that if we are out of shape and/or over weight.
                Here are a few things that have helped me over the years.  First, maintain perspective.  Fitness is not a sprint, it is a marathon.  Make it an everyday habit by building balance into your diet, take the stairs instead of the elevator and watch your portions.  For me, portion size was the biggest challenge.  Remember, as we get older, our metabolisms don’t run as high as when we were teenagers.  We can’t eat like our teen-selves.
                Follow the simple rule of balance.  If you burn more calories than you bring in, you will lose weight.  If you take in more than you burn, well, the opposite is true.  Yes, it’s that easy.  There are many programs, systems and or devices that can help you track calories going out and coming in and if it helps, get one and use it.  Many of our smart phones have applications that can facilitate tracking and since they are nearly always with us, we have easy access to their use.
                Bottom line, find something that works for you and use it.  Consistency is key.  Honor the commitment you make to yourself and don’t quit.  Remember, you wouldn’t miss a meeting with your boss – so, since you are the boss of your own health, don’t miss that meeting.

Personal Fitness Assesment

There are some topics that you’ve just gotta start off with a Skydiving Ninja Kick. Its not really PFA related, but it got your attention didn’t it? Now, on to the topic at hand…

That time is upon us – the PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment) is coming and it’s important for all of us as members of the US Navy to understand this program fully as it directly impacts all of our careers.   


First point of business, the Physical Readiness Program is explained in its entirety in OPNAV INSTRUCTION 6110.1J.  1J is the most recent version, but, it is important to note that major revisions do happen and there is some discussion about changing elements of the program as we write this article.  So, a new instruction may be coming.
All elements of the instruction are captured and available for download on the Physical Readiness Program Web Site. The operating guide that you will find there is split into three sections. The first is the Physical Readiness “How to” guide; the Command Fitness and Fitness Enhancement Program guide; and finally, the Physical Readiness Program Nutrition Resource guide.

“All Commanding Officers are responsible and accountable for the physical fitness of their personnel and they shall establish and maintain an effective year round physical readiness program.”  That is right out of the OPNAV instruction and it highlights the importance of physical fitness as it is a requirement for continued naval service.

Here are some technical things to consider – the PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment) is conducted twice a year and it includes a medical screen, a body composition assessment (BCA) and the physical readiness test (PRT).  

Failure to meet the minimum standards of the BCA or the PRT constitute a PFA failure.  PFA failures will impact your Navy career. Sailors who fail to meet PFA standards three times in the most recent 4 year period will be processed for administrative separation.  Think about that, 4 years is 8 PFA’s.  If you fail any three, you run the risk of being separated.

Medical waivers:  Sailors with two consecutive medical waivers or 3 within a 4 year period shall be referred to a military treatment facility for a medical evaluation board.  Results of this medical board will be forwarded to PERS-8 for disposition.  

Prior to taking the PFA, all Sailors shall have a current PHA (Physical Health Assessment) or DHA (Deployment Health Assessment) on file with a completed and valid PARFQ (Physical Activity Risk Factor Questionnaire). 

Late breaking news….NAVADMIN 231/13 released this week states that Sailors now have 45 vice 10 days to complete their PRT after the official BCA.
The PFA is one of those areas that is very easy to overlook, but can have catastrophic consequences on your career. Take it seriously and PT. Join a gym, running club, do CrossFit, beach body workouts, run, swim, bike, skydiving ninja kicks, whatever, but take care of the little stuff and stay in shape. 
You’ll end up living longer and taking more of the Navy’s money in the long run both from promotion and life expectancy. So, if it helps, think of PT as your own little private rebellion to stick it to the Man…after all, turnabout is fair play.

There are more elements to the PFA which we will discuss in the future. As always, please add any questions or comments below.