Some operationally-ready national servicemen like the latest changes to extra coaching classes for the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) so much they may sign up for the training sessions even if they do not need them.
The revised IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) programme offers shorter but more intensive workouts that focus better on individual weaknesses and made a difference in their physical fitness, said the citizen soldiers.
"With the more intensive routines, I can be gasping for air, but I feel my stamina is a lot better and my running has improved," said undergraduate Abdullah Zaidani, 23, who hopes the training will help him pass the 2.4km run this time.
Auditor Kenneth Lim, who has attended previous IPTs, said the more intensive revamped training programme is also "more efficient". The 31-year-old said: "You don't waste any time. Just book in, do a solid workout and go home."
Introduced in 2006, IPT is a voluntary fitness programme for NSmen who fail their IPPT. Before it was available, those who failed the IPPT would have to attend tougher remedial training in camp.
Remedial training is still offered but NSmen can also opt for the IPT's 10 training sessions spread over 12 months. Even those who pass the annual fitness test can sign up for IPT classes to keep fit.
Sessions are free but must be booked in advance on at least the same day.
Among the changes, which kicked in last week, NSmen can choose from five workouts, including metabolic circuit training, aerobics and football. The two-hour fitness sessions have been shortened to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Civil servant Matthew Ong, who completed the IPT programme earlier this year, is thinking of signing up for more.
"It's a good and effective way to keep fit... you do focused, intensive drills, you have fitness instructors to guide you... it's like going to the gym," said the 26-year-old.
NSmen can also get fit in more convenient locations downtown and in residential areas, instead of only at army camps.
A four-month trial starting next Thursday will offer the new-look IPT after office hours at five locations: the Promontory @ Marina Bay, the Co-curricular Activity Branch in Bukit Timah, Bishan Park, Jurong Central Park and Punggol Park.
Engineer Robert Ou, who used to drive from his workplace in Orchard Road to his training session at Maju Camp in Clementi, and then home to Punggol, said he would most likely sign up for his next IPT class at Punggol Park.
This will cut his travel time by up to 30 minutes. "It becomes so much more convenient and less of a chore, making the experience a lot better."
The number of people who opt for the IPT programme has risen to 33,000 from fewer than 10,000 in 2010.
Colonel Chua Boon Keat, who heads the SAF's National Service Affairs Department, said the changes to IPT are aimed at getting NSmen to take greater responsibility for their fitness.
"We want them to stay healthy... we don't want them to give up and totally not come (for IPT) just because of the inconvenience they are facing."