Navy Considers New Fitness and Tape-In Standards

The Navy wants to decrease the number of sailors that fail its bi-annual fitness assessments, and it plans to do that with a far-reaching initiative to change the focus from a sailor's size to a sailor's overall health.

One of the biggest changes the Navy is considering is a change to the body composition assessment, which is given to any sailor that exceeds the Navy's maximum weight by height chart. Right now, any sailor who doesn't meet the weight/height restrictions must pass the tape test, which measures the sailors in several places to estimate the sailor's body fat percentage - males must have less than 22% body fat, while females are allowed 33%. Those who fail the body fat percentage test automatically fail the entire physical fitness assessment - three of these failures in four years means an automatic discharge from the Navy.

The Navy is currently considering upping the 22% and 33% body fat standards, which would allow more sailors the opportunity to take the actual fitness assessment test. Many sailors that may not meet the tape regulations may be healthy enough to pass the three physical assessment tests; push-ups, curl-ups, and a timed 1.5 mile run (or a similar cardio exercise). It is hoped that this move would encourage some sailors to be in better overall health, rather than worry about their body shape or body fat percentage. Those who fail the relaxed tape standards would still fail the entire physical fitness assessment.

Other considerations by the Navy are longer hours for gym facilities at all Naval bases as well as longer hours for on-base daycare, to allow sailors with children to work out more easily either before or after work. Additionally, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has pushed for random fitness "spot-checks" throughout the year, as well as extra incentives in the form of patches or extra privileges for those who maintain excellent fitness standards.