SINGAPORE - Operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) will soon be able to fulfil their annual fitness training requirements from their homes or workplaces through virtual workouts.
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) announced on Monday (July 5) that the virtual sessions, conducted over a video-conferencing platform, will be added to the NS Fitness Improvement Training (FIT) programme launched this year.
From next Monday, up to 45 NSmen can take part in each FIT @ Home session with at least two fitness trainers checking on their safety and performance.
NSmen can register on the NS Portal from Wednesday for the hour-long sessions, which is similar in duration to other NS FIT programmes and count towards its 10-session annual requirement.
Those registered will receive a web link via e-mail. Two sessions will be conducted daily - 12.30 to 1.30pm and 6.30 to 7.30pm - except on Fridays.
Before this, NSmen had to attend their fitness training physically at 42 locations in Singapore, such as Singapore Armed Forces camps, Safra gyms, and some public parks.
The head of the National Service Affairs Department, Colonel Lim Han Yong, said NS FIT @ Home will complement the list of current NS FIT activities for NSmen to maintain active and healthy lifestyles and remain operationally ready.
"This virtual option aims to provide more flexibility and make it more convenient for NSmen to participate in, while maintaining comparable standards of training and safety to other NS FIT activities," he said.
Other than providing increased convenience to NSmen, NS FIT @ Home also has the benefit of minimising disruption to training should the Covid-19 situation worsen. NS fitness activities have previously been stopped when there was a rise in community cases.
NSmen can do up to nine NS FIT @ Home sessions for their 10-session NS FIT annual requirement. The 10 sessions include an individual physical proficiency test (IPPT) which must be taken in person.
NS FIT was introduced in April to replace the remedial and voluntary preparatory training aspects of the IPPT for NSmen.
In a statement, Mindef said that NSmen's response to NS FIT has been "very encouraging", with most training sessions fully booked.
NSmen can do NS FIT @ Home wherever they can join the video-conferencing session, as long as the environment is safe, they have at least 2 by 2m of space, and a stable Internet connection.
Measures to ensure their safety include having to fill in a declaration form, which asks participants to key in their workout location, an emergency contact person, their recent health status, and if they have checked that their environment is free of hazards.
If instructors notice any potential signs of injury, they will first call the NSman, and then his emergency contact if he does not respond. Should both methods fail, an ambulance will be sent to his specified workout location.
Reporters were invited to a preview session of NS FIT @ Home last Thursday.
The instructor said participants can do the workout at a higher or lower intensity, depending on their fitness levels. The main workout consisted of multiple sets of static exercises, such as punching movements and knee kicks.
Throughout the session, participants were asked to engage with the instructor through giving a thumbs up sign, and feedback was given on participants' performance.
Cameras have to be turned on and participants need to be fully visible at all times. Participants must also be in proper workout attire, including sports shoes.
Major (NS) Garick Bay, 39, an NSman with the 9th Singapore Infantry Brigade who also conducts virtual workouts as part of his day job, believes the virtual format can be as effective as exercising together at one location.
The photographer and sports climbing coach attended a trial session of NS FIT @ Home as part of a pilot programme.
He said: "A push-up is a push-up, whether you do it virtually from home, or on site at Fitness Conditioning Centres."