New Navy Physical Fitness Program Aims to Boost Recruit Pool

March 28, 2023 6:47 PM - Updated: March 28, 2023 11:06 PM
Sailors work out at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill on March 7, 2023. US Navy Photo

A new Navy fitness program is taking a page out of the Army’s playbook as part of the service’s latest effort to increase its ranks.

The Navy is launching a pilot program targeting those who are just shy of the Navy’s body composition requirements and want to join. Those who are part of the program will head to Great Lakes, Ill., to participate in the three-week pilot to receive training to help them get into shape before transitioning into boot camp.

The Future Sailor Preparatory Course will start April 10 with the first wave of recruits, Capt. Frank Brown, director of operations for Naval Training Service Command, told USNI News.

Recruits will be assessed at the end of three weeks if they meet the body composition goals — 26 percent body fat for men and 36 percent for women. Those who do not pass on the first time can try again within 90 days, Brown said.

In addition to exercise, the program will teach potential recruits about nutrition and good body hygiene, including sleep, Brown said.

Under the program, the Navy does not have to lower its fitness standards. Instead, the service spends more time helping potential recruits meet requirements.

“This is a great way to meet those… that want to serve, that just need a little touch up without actually lowering our boot camp standards at all,” Brown said. “We’re very excited about that aspect of it.”

The Navy program is modeled after one already in place within the Army, Brown said. In November, Brown and other members of Navy Recruiting Command visited Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., to look at the Army’s preparatory course.

Currently, the Navy pilot will not require any new staffing, Brown said. Due to decreased number of recruits at Great Lakes, the Navy has enough staff to run the pilot program without additional hires.

When the recruits show up at Great Lakes, they will be medically screened and processed like other recruits, Brown said. But then they’ll go on an off-ramp, he said, where they will be put into the pilot program.

The initial pilot will start with 60 to 88 men, Brown said. Once the pilot finishes, the Recruiting Command can look at what did and did not work with the potential to expand, he said.

An academic version of the preparatory course is also being developed, Brown said. It is meant to help those who score between 21 and 30 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

The academic program, also modeled on the Army, will give those potential recruits math and English preparatory classes to help them reach the minimum scores required.

The project launch of the academic pilot is the summer, Brown said.

“This has taken citizens that want to come and serve that just need a little bump up in one aspect or another, whether it’s fitness or academics, and based upon the Army’s success to this point, we feel very confident that we should see similar success up here in Great Lakes,” Brown said.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox