Get Healthy Like A Man: Fitness Test Failure

 By Paul Ross, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

Two more sit-ups.

Two more sit-ups were all that stood between me and losing the respect of my co-workers. Two more sit-ups were all that stood between me and having to hear my wife ask, “Seriously?” as she failed to hold back her laughter. Two more sit-ups were all that stood between me and having to write a really embarrassing blog about failing the Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT) … two … more … sit-ups.

Did I come up short in order to add a bit of humor to this blog? Did I know failing this test would be the perfect jumping off point for our campaign, “Get Healthy Like A Man?” Was I willing to risk my athletic reputation to provide fodder for this post?

No … no, I was not. I simply failed and there’s no one to blame but me and my cockiness.

Lt. Neil Cascardo, Medical Service Corps personnel planner and one of U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery's (BUMED) assistant command fitness leaders, administers the push-up portion of the Navy Physical Readiness test to Paul Ross, BUMED deputy public affairs officer. Ross took the test as part of a Men's Health Month social media campaign. (Photo by Valerie Kremer)
Lt. Neil Cascardo, Medical Service Corps personnel planner and one of U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s (BUMED) assistant command fitness leaders, administers the push-up portion of the Navy Physical Readiness test to Paul Ross, BUMED deputy public affairs officer. Ross took the test as part of a Men’s Health Month social media campaign. (Photo by Valerie Kremer)

I made a few errors coming into the test. I wanted to see how I would fare having not worked out for three weeks. It was an anti-training regimen of sorts. My reverse workouts consisted of simultaneously shoveling handfuls of chips into my mouth while doing remote reps between ESPN and the NFL Network. Over this magical 21-day sloth session, I could feel myself getting out of shape. My skinny vintage straight jeans fit tighter. My breath grew shorter even with a short jaunt up the steps. The scale turned against me as I gained about six pounds. But my ability to eat multiple bowls of ice cream in a single sitting improved vastly.

Even after my three-week hiatus from anything and everything that involved a healthy lifestyle, I still was not worried about the PRT. I’m an athlete. I grew up wrestling, playing football and running track. In my adult life I’ve done Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I served in the Air Force for four years and consistently maxed-out my physical fitness test scores. Heck, I even had a rather impressive intramural career — at least that’s how it sounded when I called to brag to my mom after my Tuesday night co-ed flag football games. But I should’ve known better than to take this test lightly.

 Not knowing what I needed to do to pass was my biggest mistake. I should’ve looked up the minimum qualifying scores for my age group (25-29). Had I done this, I would’ve known that as I reached my 41st sit-up, with time left on the clock, I only needed two more to pass. But I assumed 41 was good enough as I looked at my PRT monitor – sweat pouring down my face – while grunting, “I’m good, LT.”

Lt. Neil Cascardo, Medical Service Corps personnel planner and one of U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery's (BUMED) assistant command fitness leaders, goes over the height and weight standards with Paul Ross, BUMED deputy public affairs officer, after his Navy Physical Readiness Test. Ross took the test as part of a Men's Health Month social media campaign. (Photo by Valerie Kremer)
Lt. Neil Cascardo, Medical Service Corps personnel planner and one of U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s (BUMED) assistant command fitness leaders, goes over the height and weight standards with Paul Ross, BUMED deputy public affairs officer, after his Navy Physical Readiness Test. Ross took the test as part of a Men’s Health Month social media campaign. (Photo by Valerie Kremer)

I’m about as proud of my pedestrian PRT scores as I am of crying like a baby in front of a packed church on my wedding day, which also involved my wife asking, “Seriously?” as she failed to hold back her laughter.  

Lt. Neil Cascardo, Medical Service Corps personnel planner and one of U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery's (BUMED) assistant command fitness leaders, tells Paul Ross, BUMED deputy public affairs officer, his time for the run portion of the Navy Physical Readiness Test. Ross took the test as part of a Men's Health Month social media campaign. (Photo by Valerie Kremer)
Lt. Neil Cascardo, Medical Service Corps personnel planner and one of U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s (BUMED) assistant command fitness leaders, tells Paul Ross, BUMED deputy public affairs officer, his time for the run portion of the Navy Physical Readiness Test. Ross took the test as part of a Men’s Health Month social media campaign. (Photo by Valerie Kremer)

For the Navy PRT you get two minutes to do sit-ups, two minutes to do push-ups and then a mile and a half run. Other options instead of the run include swimming, riding a stationary bike, or using an elliptical machine. Your height and weight are also measured. If you are out of standards then you get your waist and neck measured to determine your body fat percentage.

 I did 41 sit-ups, 40 push-ups, and I ran the mile and a half in 13 minutes and 42 seconds (on a treadmill). My neck measured at a svelte 17 inches. My waist surprised me at 37 inches … granted I had a large breakfast that morning (that’s a lie). I measured at 5’11” even though I tell everyone I’m a cool six feet tall and I weighed in 205. Through a magical algorithm that I’ll never understand, I found out that my body fat is 19%. 

 So now I have something to shoot for. I’ve already begun my “Get Healthy Like A Man” regimen. I have not eaten a piece of junk food since the month began. I’ve worked out every day and am even standing at my desk while typing this soul-crushing confession. My icy caramel frapamachachinos have been replaced by healthy green tea and so far, I feel great.

I’ve got a lot of goals for Men’s Health Month. I, of course, want to crush the PRT the next time I take it, but I’m not training specifically for it. I’m working to become an overall healthier person. Through my workouts I will decrease my run-time, slim down my waist, and build my upper body strength to knock out more push-ups. As for sit-ups, they’ve always been a pain in my side – an exercise that mocks me like a heckler at a terrible comedy show. But I can assure you … I’ll never come up two short again.

To learn more about the Navy PRT, visit: http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/physical/Pages/default2.aspx.

To check out my first, “Get Healthy Like a Man,” blog post that kicked off the month, click here.