Kuttabul PTIs find new ways to keep Navy fit to fight

Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author), ABIS Benjamin Ricketts (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Kuttabul, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Kuttabul, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing, Physical Training Instructor

Leading Seaman Physical Trainer Instructor Ben Springer ensures Royal Australian Navy Sailors maintain their fitness to RAN standards, at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Benjamin Ricketts)
Leading Seaman Physical Trainer Instructor Ben Springer ensures Royal Australian Navy Sailors maintain their fitness to RAN standards, at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney.

With gyms across the country closed for months, including at Navy establishments, the Physical Training Instructors at HMAS Kuttabul had to get creative to address the groundswell of demand for alternative exercise options, including self-guided workouts and small outdoor classes that observed distancing guidelines.

Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Benjamin Spring developed a 31-day home exercise regime and a four-week running program, and said demand for both the programmes had far exceeded expectations.

“We’ve had hundreds of people downloading the programmes and the feedback has been phenomenal.”

“I think we’ve tapped into a broader trend at the moment for people wanting to maintain their health and wellbeing and I think some of these changes will continue into the future,” Leading Seaman Spring said.

Leading Seaman Physical Trainer Instructor Ben Springer ensures Royal Australian Navy Sailors maintain their fitness to RAN standards, at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney.

Leading Seaman Physical Trainer Instructor Ben Springer ensures Royal Australian Navy Sailors maintain their fitness to RAN standards, at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney.

Not only has the take-up of the programmes been strong, but personnel are reporting an average 1-2 minute improvement in their running times over 2.4km.

More recently the Kuttabul PTIs have begun offering outdoor training sessions for up to 10 people at a time in line with New South Wales state government regulations.

The outdoor training sessions, as well as annual Physical Fitness Testing, can be booked online, with demand for the sessions high.

HMAS Kuttabul Command Warrant Officer Mark Cooper - a regular at the outdoor training sessions - said PT staff had been integral in offering opportunities and guidance to Kuttabul and Garden Island Defence Precinct Resident Units.

“The equipment they have procured or had manufactured in partnership with Fleet Support Unit, as well as the introduction of things such as online Pilates sessions and exercise programs, has allowed a lot of personnel to maintain their physical fitness by these self-run exercise options.”

“This has in-turn maintained mental health and provided some respite from the rigours of the uncertainty of 2020.

“Their role in wellness and well-being cannot be understated,” Cooper said.

Another to take up the new training challenges has been Kuttabul Chaplain Jon-Paul Barry, who made use of the online running program and more recently attended the outdoor training.

“Getting outside at least three mornings each week to complete the running program was great for me. It helped me maintain some cardio fitness and improve my 2.4km time, but also gave me an outlet to de-stress, helped me to stay focused during the day and gave me more motivation to eat well.

“It may have been intended as a physical fitness tool, but it maintained my holistic health and well-being in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” Chaplain Barry said.

Despite the success of the new training programs, Leading Seaman Spring said he was looking forward to gym facilities re-opening.

“Hopefully one of the positives of the current restrictions will be that people realise and appreciate what fantastic facilities we have available at Navy establishments around the country,” he said.