SUPT (NS) Terence Choo says the “secret” to passing the fitness test lies in shifting your mindset and routine.
PHOTOS: TERENCE CHOO
TEXT: ALYWIN CHEW
As the Chairman of The REAL® Run committee, SUPT (NS) Terence Choo has witnessed the transformative power of fitness. In 2017, he embarked on a personal project, compiling a collection of IPPT training tips that could benefit his fellow NSmen. Titled IPPT Ready, the online book was recently updated with additional tips that specifically help servicemen improve their performance in the three IPPT stations. Terence, who is a longstanding HomeTeamNS volunteer, shares with us more about the book — and his views on why passing IPPT is much less difficult than you may think.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO DEVELOP THIS ONLINE RESOURCE?
I wasn’t always as fit as I am today. In fact, I failed my first IPPT attempt in 2014! But I’ve since discovered the “secret” to passing the IPPT, and I wanted to share this with my fellow NSmen, through a dedicated IPPT resource website, which doesn’t quite exist anywhere else today.
This one-stop guide is meant to help motivate NSmen and cultivate a more positive attitude towards IPPT. It’s also aimed at helping them train safely, effectively, and efficiently with three different levels — those who are restarting exercise, those who borderline pass or fail their IPPT, and those aiming for Silver and beyond. I have also included a special chapter for leaders and commanders on fitness motivation and the D.A.R.E. framework.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THIS PERSONAL PROJECT OF YOURS?
The real challenge is not about addressing the fitness ability or knowledge of NSmen. Rather, they need to nurture their willingness to embrace health and fitness by discovering their personal meaning in pursuing better health and fitness. Once they uncover that meaningful purpose (which could be a professional or personal goal) that fuels their desire for strength and fitness, that will become the foundation for lasting transformation.
SO, WHAT IS THIS “SECRET” TO PASSING THE IPPT?
The secret is to be consistent, keep it simple, and have the right attitude towards fitness. A friend of mine who is 50, scored full marks on the push-up test. He doesn’t go to the gym regularly or train for long hours. All he did was incorporate a push-up routine into his daily life for the last 7 years. All he needed was a few minutes before showering or right after waking up. You may view the IPPT as an event that you need to train for and clear once a year. But I encourage you to see it from another perspective. Don’t train for the IPPT. Train for yourself. Make exercise an intrinsic part of your daily life.
HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO PEOPLE WHO ARGUE THAT THEY ARE TOO BUSY TO EXERCISE EVERY DAY?
Life in Singapore can be pretty hectic, but there is no reason why we cannot spare a few minutes every day to exercise. Find a routine that you have to do daily, for example, showering. Incorporate one set of squats or push-ups into your pre-showering routine. After a few weeks, and before you know it, it has become a routine that you’ll do naturally without thinking. One set of push-ups might even slowly turn into three or four sets. You can also look at this as a good way to energize yourself and feel good after a long day. I know this sounds rather unbelievable, but we only need a few minutes of exercise daily to pass the IPPT.
Check out my online book for workout ideas that could help you enjoy working out even more.
A FEW MINUTES? IS THAT REALLY ENOUGH TO GO FROM FAIL TO PASS?
Yes! Close to 25% of our NSmen just missed the passing mark by a few points. By investing a few minutes a day to do a few sets of push-ups or sit-ups or completing a short run helps to gradually improve your fitness over time. The key here is maintaining consistency and gradually increasing the intensity of the workout as you go along so that you improve and reach the required level to pass.
WHAT IF I’M SOMEONE WHO IS COMPLETELY OUT OF SHAPE AND CANNOT EVEN PERFORM A HANDFUL OF PUSH-UPS?
10 years ago, I could not do a single push-up. Consistency and patience led me to where I am now. You need to start with what you can do. Start with 8 to 12 repetitions of the variation that challenges you slightly. Do it daily, and as you get stronger, you can go for more repetitions or variations that are more challenging. Before long, you’ll be able to pass. Results are the fuel for greater action.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK THE MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE?
I would ask such individuals: Would improved fitness make your life more difficult or better? We all know the benefits of working out regularly far outweigh the drawbacks. Firstly, it is far more logical and productive to exercise just a few minutes every day than having to carve out time to attend hours of remedial training (NS FIT), which can be very disruptive. Secondly, it’s no secret that being fit and healthy comes with a host of benefits. You’ll look better. You’ll feel more energetic and healthier. Most importantly, it can also help you to reach your personal and professional goals!
WOULDN’T EXERCISING EVERY DAY BE DETRIMENTAL TO HEALTH? SHOULDN’T I HAVE REST DAYS?
It all depends on the intensity of your workout. After an intense workout, you can opt for passive recovery the following day, either with a massage or simply resting the muscle you trained. Alternatively, you can also do active recovery — light workouts that are a fraction of the normal intensity. Personally, I like to do active recovery, and that is to exercise daily. When I need more time to recover, I will do a light workout instead of an intense one.
SHOULD I ENGAGE A PERSONAL TRAINER AT A FITNESS WORKZ GYM TO HELP ME TRAIN FOR MY IPPT?
A personal trainer can give you more targeted advice and help you to train safely by imparting good exercise techniques. You can also discover more about yourself by asking questions, which can help you make the breakthroughs you want. You can speak with the staff at the Fitness Workz gym to find out what the personal training experience is like.
SUPT (NS) Terence Choo’s “magic ingredient” for improving IPPT scores
“Beetroot can help improve muscular endurance and help you do better, especially in the 2.4km run. A lot of research has backed this claim, and it has helped me personally. The nitrates in beetroot help reduce oxygen costs during exercise, and when you reduce the amount of oxygen you need, you can run at a fast pace for longer before getting tired. I usually start taking beetroot supplements about three days before the test. However, check with your healthcare provider if the supplements are suitable for you before getting started on them.”
Interested in serving beyond your obligations? Consider the Volunteer Extension Scheme, which allows PNSMen who have completed their NS liability to continue serving beyond their statutory age. PNSMen (With NS liability) who have passed their statutory age of 40 years (Junior Officers) & 50 years (Senior Officers) may apply.
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