NSmen may soon train in gyms at 'own time' for IPPT

NSmen may soon train in gyms at 'own time' for IPPT

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.

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This is the report from Cyber Pioneer:

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) will be looking to work with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to introduce more holistic and structured physical training programmes to boost the fitness of pre-enlistees, said 2nd Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing.

Speaking to the media after a focus group discussion on improving the fitness of national servicemen, Mr Chan said they will be looking at how these programmes can include "more regular NAPFA (National Physical Fitness Assessment) fitness testing, diet and lifestyle recommendations" as well as "institute the mindset whereby individual students take ownership of their fitness."

Organised by the Committee to Strengthen National Service, the focus group discussion on Apr 5 involved 57 participants. They included Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen), Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs), pre-enlistees and educators from junior colleges (JCs), polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs), as well as sports scientists.

Currently, only JCs and ITEs have compulsory physical education programmes. A few polytechnics run optional "semi-structured" programmes, and have seen positive results. For instance, all first-year Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students have to take part in a compulsory Sports for Life programme to play a sport of their choice such as yoga, in-line skating or boxing. Second- and third-year students can choose to take it as an optional elective.

Since the programme started in 2011, the NAPFA passing rate for SP final-year male students has jumped from 35 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent in 2012 and 2013, said Mr Choo Keng Hui, SP's Director of Student Development. "We have a structured programme in place. For Year-1 students, it is compulsory. Year-2 students have a choice - it's an elective. For Year-3, it's also an elective, (but) it is more of a fitness workshop to prepare the male students...so that they can clear their NAPFA test and eventually go on to their NS (National Service)."

Mr Choo added that SP will consider making the programme compulsory for all students, but further studies and pilot trials were needed. Besides looking at ways to improve the fitness of pre-enlistees, the focus group participants also brainstormed for ideas to help NSmen maintain their fitness and pass their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT).

Most of the suggested ideas looked into making the existing IPPT Preparatory Training and Remedial Training (RT) more accessible.

Sharing his observation, Mr Chan said: "There are a lot of ideas about having more flexible hours to allow NSmen to return to camp or to go to one of the fitness conditioning centres, or even some of the gyms perhaps in SAFRA, to train at a time which they can fit into their work schedule."

Other ideas suggested included having personalised IPPT, such as having a swimming test in lieu of 2.4km running for NSmen with knee injuries, or providing subsidies for gym membership.

This is the 38th CSNS focus group discussion. Since last May, the committee has consulted some 40,000 Singaporeans for ideas to strengthen NS.

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