Trial to let NSmen train for IPPT in public parks closer to home

No more going back to camp to train for IPPT, like what these NSmen are doing at Maju Camp. Under a four-month trial, they will soon be allowed to attend IPPT Preparatory Training classes at venues closer to their homes and workplaces, instead of onl
No more going back to camp to train for IPPT, like what these NSmen are doing at Maju Camp. Under a four-month trial, they will soon be allowed to attend IPPT Preparatory Training classes at venues closer to their homes and workplaces, instead of only at four army camps.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Unfit citizen soldiers will no longer have to trek to far-flung corners of the island to train for their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).

The solution is coming soon - to a park near them.

The Straits Times has learnt that from next week, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will bring fitness classes closer to the homes and workplaces of operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen).

As part of a four-month trial, training sessions will be held in the evenings at the Promontory @ Marina Bay, the Co-curricular Activity Branch in Bukit Timah, Bishan Park, Jurong Central Park and Punggol Park.

Earlier, the possibility of holding such sessions at commercial gyms had also been broached, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Currently, NSmen go for these IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT) classes at four army camps in areas such as Kranji and Bedok.

Confirming the new move, the Defence Ministry said NSmen will be able to sign up for and attend the sessions at the new venues from Thursday next week.

Juggling work, family and fitness obligations can be "very challenging", said Colonel Chua Boon Keat, who heads the National Service Affairs Department.

He told The Straits Times: "If (IPT) is closer to the home or workplace... you come and do your fitness, keep fit, spend very little time travelling back home and spend time with the family."

The IPT is a voluntary programme that puts those who fail their IPPT through 10 training sessions spread over nine months.

As part of the trial, the SAF has also introduced midday IPT sessions on weekdays which, for now, will be available only at the existing conditioning centres.

The new moves aim to give unfit NSmen the flexibility of picking from 20 time slots a week to train for their IPPT, up from 12.

Since the beginning of this month, the Defence Ministry has introduced other changes to make the IPT and remedial training more flexible and efficient.

One allows NSmen to choose their fitness regime from five different workouts including ball games, and possibly kick-boxing and mixed martial arts.

The duration of these sessions has been almost halved to 1hr 15min, while soldiers get to be coached in 30-man sessions instead of 50. Previously announced changes aimed at making the IPPT less painful for NSmen include a simpler three-station fitness test from next April.

NSman Yau Chee Ming, an engineer who shuttles between his job in Jurong Port Road and Clementi Road's Maju Camp for IPT sessions, said the new venues will save him 15 minutes per trip.

He plans to sign up for sessions in Jurong Central Park, which is the closest location to his home in Bukit Panjang. The 36-year-old said: "Work is already so hectic. If I can make fitness training less troublesome, I will be happier and motivated to train."

jermync@sph.com.sg

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