Navy swings into action

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing

Mr Paul Wolkowinski, a Club Swinging instructor with members of the HMAS Stirling Health Centre on the Stirling Gymnasium floor after a Club Swinging lesson. (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Cooper)
Mr Paul Wolkowinski, a Club Swinging instructor with members of the HMAS Stirling Health Centre on the Stirling Gymnasium floor after a Club Swinging lesson.

Everything that is old is new again, or perhaps ancient in the case of some exercise regimes being undertaken by Navy people in Western Australia.
In a nod to his branch nickname, Chief Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor Paul Williams, has brought the art of Indian club swinging to HMAS Stirling’s gymnasium as part of keeping his charges fit to fight.
Physical Training Instructors in Navy are colloquially known as “clubs” due to the crossed clubs on their insignia harking back to historical fitness techniques of militaries many.
Taking the traditional term of of ‘club swinger’ to the forefront of innovative training, curious onlookers watched as 15 exercisers undertook choreographed routines where the bowling-pin shaped wooden clubs were swung in unison, led by an instructor out the front.
Civilian Indian clubbing instructor, Paul Wolkowinski said that the exercise had a number of benefits from developing upper body strength, endurance and mobility to coordination and mediation.
“Despite their Middle Eastern origin, the Indian clubs were first recorded as being used by wrestlers in ancient Persia and later used by British soldiers in the late 1800s,” Mr Wolkowinski said.
“The wooden clubs come in varying sizes and weights, which are swung in certain patterns as part of an exercise program and the routines varied according to the group's ability and the weight of the clubs used.”
Chief Petty Officer Williams, said that club swinging was an important form of training before the introduction of modern day resistance training equipment.
“I started swinging clubs in February this year and have found it to be very beneficial,” Chief Petty Officer Williams said.
“I played rugby for over 20 years and the club swinging exercises have assisted in the rehabilitation of persistent shoulder and arm injuries which have now completely healed.
“As we are all aware, most of our days can be spent at our desks with our shoulders forward typing away, and this along with continuous use of mobile phones and tablets has progressively exacerbated postural issues people of all ages are experiencing.
“People tend to hold a lot of tension in their shoulders, scapula, and upper posterior chain muscles.
“Swinging clubs promotes dynamic and fluid movement patterns in the posterior chain, functional movements and good biomechanics of the shoulders that lead to increased flexibility, strength, endurance and postural correction.
“The club swinging motion also requires one to engage the core muscles and maintain trunk stability and proper hip extension patterning for hip stabilisation,” he said.
Other benefits of club swinging include shoulder and arm injury rehabilitation, improvement in coordination, a cardio and strength training option for personnel with lower limb injuries/restrictions and mental health rehabilitation.
The introduction session targeted dental personnel who spend their days often leaning over people, computers and equipment.
Able Seaman Dental Assistant Shannon Byzdra was one of the debutant club swingers and said that it was an interesting exercise.
“The workout was different because you had to think about mental coordination, yet it wasn’t aerobically difficult,” Able Seaman Byzdra said.
“It was great to do the club swinging as a warm-up to our boxing session and I would certainly do it again,” she said.
Chief Petty Officer Williams’ vision is to introduce club swinging into the weekly program at Stirling and interest has been growing with personnel realising the benefits of the exercises.