NSmen get to do IPPT training at 'own time own target' with fitness-tracking devices

Operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) running as part of IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) programme in Maju Camp on Sept 8, 2014. --  ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) running as part of IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) programme in Maju Camp on Sept 8, 2014. --  ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) will now be able to do their physical fitness training at "own time own target", to borrow the popular army slang.

Instead of being supervised by fitness instructors during physical training classes, NSmen will be given free rein to decide how they want to train for their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), by using fitness-tracking devices like Fitbit and mobile phone apps to monitor their progress.

As part of a four-month trial, which started on Thursday, 100 NSmen will wear the Fitbit bracelet or activate their GPS-enabled smartphone app to log in the exercises they have done in the self-administered IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT).

They have to run, if not jog, for at least 75 minutes a week and at a speed of about seven minutes to cover a kilometre, for it to be counted as having completed one IPT session.

The IPT is a voluntary programme which puts those who fail IPPT through 10 75-minute training sessions spread over 12 months.

Those who choose to do it on their own have to at least improve on their previous IPPT results at the end of the 10th session or be put under supervision for an additional 10 IPT classes.

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

In fact, not only do they get to choose when and how they want to keep fit, NSmen also get paid for signing up and attending IPT sessions.

Colonel Chua Boon Keat, who heads the Singapore Armed Forces' National Service Affairs department, said those who sign up and attend the IPT classes in army camps or parks will be given a "service pay" to "recognise the time and effort spent coming for an SAF-sanctioned activity."

Col Chua said the armed forces is relooking the way its citizen soldiers stay in shape. "(It's) a big mental shift from looking at how to control everything... to one that frees up some possibilities where they (NSmen) can do it at their own time... its up to them to choose what suits them best."

As part of a recent overhaul of the IPT programme, NSmen can now choose from five workouts that can best improve their performance in the annual fitness test. The Straits Times reported last week that a trial, which started yesterday, will allow citizen soldiers to get fit in more convenient locations downtown and in residential areas, instead of only at army camps.