Operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) may soon be able to do their physical training "own time, own target", to borrow an army catchphrase.
Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing said yesterday that his ministry is exploring ways to give NSmen more leeway in planning their physical training.
Possible measures include extending opening hours of exercise facilities at army camps used for such training and using technology like mobile applications to track training progress.
Another idea is to tie up with commercial or Safra gyms for NSmen to train at their own convenience.
These suggestions were made by NSmen at a focus group discussion on army fitness yesterday. Mr Chan later told reporters that the Ministry of Defence was already exploring some of these options.
Such moves could eliminate the need for them to head to army camps for their fixed training sessions.
Currently, all physically fit NSmen must take and pass their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) once a year. They may choose to attend voluntary IPPT Preparatory Training (IPT), or attend Remedial Training (RT) if they fail.
At yesterday's dialogue, at least five NSmen said they have had problems attending IPT and RT sessions due to work or family commitments. They called for more flexible approaches.
Mr Chan welcomed the suggestions and said: "We want to have a partnership with our NSmen and enable them to do well. Training is not about clocking in and out, but for you to keep fit.
"More importantly, training is about taking ownership of your physical and combat fitness."
Accountant Justin Goh, 26, said that the flexibility would "make life much easier".
"I can go for my RT before or after work depending on whether I have urgent things to do," he said.
The session involved 57 participants, including educators and students from junior colleges, polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) colleges, who discussed how to improve the physical fitness of those waiting to enlist for national service (NS).
Better fitness helps to lower the risk of injury during NS, said Mr Chan.
Students at the discussion said a structured physical education programme would help them stay committed to keeping fit in school.
Currently, all junior colleges and ITE colleges include about two hours of physical training a week in their curriculum, while polytechnics have their own physical training programmes.
Republic Polytechnic alumnus Tu Jun Yu, 25, suggested holding roadshows for pre-enlistees. Mr Tu, now a physical training instructor with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, said: "We can teach them how physical training can benefit them and instil the motivation in them to train."