With gyms closed across the country, including at Navy establishments, the physical training instructors (PTIs) at HMAS Kuttabul have addressed a groundswell of demand for alternative exercise options, including self-guided workouts and small outdoor classes that observe current government guidelines.

Leading Seaman PTI Benjamin Spring developed a 31-day home exercise regime and a four-week running program, with demand for both far exceeding expectations. 

“We’ve had hundreds of people downloading the program and the feedback has been phenomenal,” Leading Seaman Spring said.

“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.” 

Not only has the take-up of the programs 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 current New South Wales government regulations for social distancing. 

The outdoor training sessions, as well as annual Physical Fitness Testing, are 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 Resident Units while social distancing has been in force. 

It may have been intended as a physical fitness tool, but it maintained my holistic health and wellbeing in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

“The equipment they have procured or had manufactured in partnership with Fleet Support Unit South East, 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,” Warrant Officer Cooper said.

“This has in turn maintained mental health and provided some respite from the rigours of the uncertainty of society. Their role in wellness and wellbeing cannot be underestimated.” 

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 has taken up the outdoor training. 

“Getting outside at least three mornings each week to complete the running program was great for me,” he said. 

“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 wellbeing in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”  

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,” Leading Seaman Spring said.