Saturday 20 September 2014

NSmen get to take charge of own fitness training; SAF trials do-it-yourself IPT

100 in trial to use tracking devices to monitor exercises on their own time
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 19 Sep 2014

OPERATIONALLY ready national servicemen (NSmen) will be allowed to use fitness tracking devices to monitor their physical fitness training on their "own time own target", to borrow the popular army slang.

This is to give them free rein over how they want to train for their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), instead of having them supervised by fitness instructors at physical training classes.

As part of a four-month trial which started yesterday, 100 NSmen will wear a Fitbit band or activate a Global Positioning System- enabled smartphone app to log in completed exercises in the self-administered IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT). They have to run or jog for at least 75 minutes a week, clocking about seven minutes a kilometre, to be counted as having done one IPT session.

The IPT is a voluntary programme for all NSmen - but especially those who fail their IPPT - to get fit through 10 75-minute coaching sessions spread over 12 months. Those who choose to work out on their own are expected to improve on their previous IPPT results.

The latest move is part of recent efforts to make IPPT training less of a chore for NSmen, who have to juggle family and work commitments.

Colonel Chua Boon Keat, who heads the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) National Service Affairs Department, said the armed forces is relooking the way its citizen soldiers train to stay in shape.

"(It is) a big mental shift from looking at how to control everything to one that frees up possibilities where (NSmen) can do it on their own time... it is up to them to choose what suits them best."

NSmen can now choose from five workouts that include ball games and aerobics, among other recent changes.

In another trial, citizen soldiers can work out in more convenient locations downtown and in residential areas, instead of only in army camps. Furthermore, NSmen will now get paid for signing up and attending IPT sessions.

Col Chua told reporters at a media briefing that those who sign up and attend supervised IPT classes will be given "service pay" to "recognise the time and effort spent coming for an SAF-sanctioned activity".

When asked if people will find ways and means to game the train-on-your-own system, Col Chua said the SAF trusts citizen soldiers to "do the right thing".

"There is only that much 'stick' you can impose on a person. After a while, it is not effective any more... We believe NSmen have the maturity and understanding that these (moves) are meant to help them."

Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development, dropped in on the first IPT session in Bishan Park last night. He said letting NSmen take charge of their own fitness will motivate them to do more for the defence of the country.

"At the end of the day, we can provide all these options, we can provide all this flexibility... fitness is (still) an individual discipline issue. Most of us... will require conscientious training, including myself."

How NSmen can train to pass IPPT

IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT): 10 sessions spread over 12 months.
- Choose from five 75-minute workouts that include ball games and metabolic circuit training.
- Undergo training in four army camps or five new downtown and residential locations. The new venues are Promontory @ Marina Bay, the Co-curricular Activity Branch in Bukit Timah, Bishan Park, Jurong Central Park and Punggol Park.
- Do-it-yourself training.
- NSmen to use fitness-tracking band Fitbit or the Health Promotion Board's Interactive Diet and Activity Tracker (iDAT) smartphone app to log in their exercises.

- Have to run or jog for at least 75 minutes, clocking about seven minutes per kilometre, per week.

- Expect to improve on their previous Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) result.

Remedial Training

NSmen who fail or default on the IPPT or IPT have to complete their 20 sessions within one year.

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