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Follow the Leader: Sailors Pass Test

NEWPORT NEWS, VA — Through the healthy-living example of one command fitness leader (CFL), 96 percent of the sailors on the pre-commissioning unit (PCU) George H.W. Bush passed the Navy's Spring Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA).

Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Jose Negron has been a command fitness leader for 10 years and the PCU Bush CFL since he reported aboard. He uses his past experiences and expertise to institute a rigorous physical training program designed to challenge sailors and help them reach their full potential. PCU Bush sailors are required to perform a warm-up, 20 to 30 minutes of calisthenics followed by 20 to 30 minutes of continuous running, a cool down and a flexibility section three times a week.

“We developed the foundation of an ideal physical fitness program,” Negron says. “Many individuals, due to lack of knowledge or personal motivation, do not take the time to exercise.”

Of the 4 percent who failed the PFA, most of them were new to PCU Bush and failed the initial body composition assessment (BCA) that sailors are given upon arrival to determine the member's body fat percentage, he says.

“Take away [those who failed the] BCA, you get less than a 1 percent failure rate,” Negron says.

PCU Bush has had a combined 2,000-pound weight loss since the program began tracking personnel a year ago, Negron says.

“Many sailors are experiencing a transformation,” he says. “They're developing healthy lifestyles and better physical fitness. The key to success comes with powerful tools called education, awareness and the example set by the leadership. Here, aboard PCU Bush, the leadership is the catalyst of our success.”

That leadership includes commanding officer, Capt. Kevin O' Flaherty, who usually works out with his crew five days a week, and Command Master Chief Jon Port.

“I think it's a great program,” says assistant command CFL, Personnel Specialist 1st Class Paula R. Ryel. “My PFA score was the best I've ever had in my entire 13-year career. The results we have seen at the command reflect that. We've seen an increase in PFA scores of almost every sailor.”

All of this adds up to PCU Bush sailors becoming more capable of performing their duties aboard the ship, Negron says.

“Mission accomplished,” he says. “If you can imagine someone who is not in shape fighting a fire, he might not be able to do his job or save his life and the life of others. Being fit allows us to complete tasks without compromising our health and safety.”

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