Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dakota Rayburn

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are conducting their first Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) with the new body composition assessment (BCA) standards.

The new standard now allows for a maximum body fat percentage of 26 percent for males and 36 percent for females.

“[The new standard] is not easier, it’s just more accommodating to certain body types,” said Senior Chief Quartermaster Henry Nicol, from Hemet, Calif., John C. Stennis’ command fitness coordinator.

In addition to being allowed only two failures in a three-year period, a new step to calculating a Sailor’s BCA has been added this year. If a Sailor doesn’t meet a standard height-to-weight ratio, the width of their abdomen will be measured. The maximum abdominal width a male Sailor can have is 39 inches and females are allowed up to 35.5 inches. If a Sailor has exceeded both of those maximums, then their body fat percentage will be calculated.

“[The measurement] is now a graduated body fat percentage so that someone who is 37 or 38 [years old] doesn’t have to be at the same body fat percentage as someone who is 20,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Bryan Clarke, from Whittier, Calif., an assistant command fitness leader. “It’s a little more realistic.”

The new standard is meant to be more inclusive and increase retention by preventing problems that could possibly end a career. Sailors who are unable to meet PFA standards are enrolled into the Fitness Enhancement Program (FEP) to help get them back in shape.

“We are looking out for Sailors’ physical fitness while holding to Navy standards,” said Nicol. “The thing about our command is there is something for everybody. If there is a fitness class being done on board this ship, that is your FEP session.”

Clarke says Sailors often mistake FEP sessions as a punitive action. He says during the sessions he runs, he tries to engage Sailors to help them understand he is trying to find the best way to get them back in shape, not punish them.

“In my experience it’s not really conducive to get someone to do what you want them to do by getting them in trouble,” said Clarke. “For an operational platform, I think we are doing well as far as servicing our people’s needs for physical activity.”

Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.

For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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