His fitness level may have dropped after a year of sedentary lifestyle due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Lieutenant (LTA) (NS) William Xin Loong Werry is confident of scoring a Gold for his Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) this year.
The reason? His wife is training alongside him.
He has signed up for the NS FIT (National Service Fitness Improvement Training) – a new fitness programme that gives Operationally National Servicemen, or NSmen, the option to train with family and friends at community locations across Singapore.
Keeping fit with family & friends
The couple went for their first session on 13 Apr at ActiveSG park @ Jurong Lake Gardens, undergoing Quick HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). This features short bursts of high-intensity exercises that build strength, endurance and aerobic fitness over time.
"Her being here motivates me to push a bit harder," said the 28-year-old. Although he has been able to pass his IPPT for the past few years, he has decided to aim higher this time round.
LTA (NS) Werry had encouraged his wife, Ms Tess Tseng, to join him as the exercise location is not far from their Bukit Batok home. She agreed to join him as it allows them to spend time together and enjoy a common, shared experience.
Launched on 1 Apr, the NS FIT programme offers more convenience and flexibility for NSmen to incorporate regular exercise into their lifestyles through holistic fitness programmes.
They can choose from various exercise activities at 42 locations across the island. Three upcoming ActiveSG gyms will be added to the list of training locations, bringing the total number to 45.
Positive response by NSmen
Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How, who observed the couple and other NSmen participating in the Quick HIIT session, noted that the NS FIT programme has been well-received by NSmen.
"Many said that they live not far from here. And for them, to be able to just nip down to a park surrounding and fulfil their (fitness) requirements in a very fun way is what attracted them," he said.
Mr Heng also noted that demand for NS FIT has been strong even though it has only been about two weeks since its launch.
He said that the SAF and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will continue to monitor the NS FIT booking rate and feedback, and look at ways to refine the programme, such as increasing the number of training locations even further.
Kick-starting their fitness journey together
3rd Sergeant (3SG) (NS) Prabhu Nadarajan welcomed the convenience of being able to train near his home, which is just opposite ActiveSG Park@Jurong Lake Gardens. The 29-year-old passed his IPPT in 2019 but failed last year. He is aiming for at least a Pass or a Silver this year.
Asked how he felt after going through his first Quick HIIT session, he said: "Personally, tonight's intensity was a bit high for me because I haven't trained for a long time. But it's something to kick-start me (to do better next time)."
Under the NS FIT system, NSmen need to either pass their IPPT or complete 10 NS FIT sessions (which includes one IPPT attempt).
"I'm going to come for all the remaining nine sessions, and I want to keep myself fit and healthy," added 3SG (NS) Nadarajan.
His cousin, 3SG (NS) C. Ganesh, also joined him for the session. Taking part in the NS FIT session together, 3SG (NS) Ganesh said, gave them the opportunity to hang out and have fun together again – something they have found harder to do as they enter into different phases of life.
The 30-year-old, who works as a Physical Education teacher, also gave a thumbs up for the Quick HIIT programme.
"For a new person who's not conditioned and coming in for the first time, it can be pretty intense. But it will get better as the sessions go by and it will definitely be effective for everyone."
Leveraging sports science
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Johnson Sim, Commanding Officer of Soldier Fitness Centre, Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance (CESP), said the CESP had leveraged exercise and sports science to design various NS FIT programmes with the different needs of NSmen in mind.
For example, the metabolic circuit and aerobic training at FIT@Park locations and in QUICK HIIT sessions help to improve the general fitness of NSmen, while the Fitness Condition Centres offer various programmes – such as IPPT-specific training, weight loss training, and sport based exercises – to cater to NSmen of different fitness levels.
"We have designed the exercises based on sports science, so that as long as the NSmen come for the 10 sessions, it is sufficient for them to meet the required fitness standards to perform their operational roles," said LTC Sim.