Military & Aerospace

Transiting from an Army Physical Training Instructor to Health and Wellness Trainer
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 23 Feb , 2024

Training for Unarmed Combat

Army veterans can play a crucial role in nation-building. Their skills, discipline, leadership experience, and dedication are valuable assets. Veterans often contribute to various sectors such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and public service.

Many veterans also engage in entrepreneurship, bringing their organizational and management skills to the business world. Additionally, they may participate in community development, disaster relief, and volunteer work. The diverse experiences gained during military service position veterans to make significant contributions to the overall development and well-being of their nations.

Also there is need to mention the Agnipat Scheme which has a fundamental aim to empower, discipline and skill youth of the Country with military ethos as the revert to civil society on completion of four years of service in the Army there-by contributing positively in the development of the Nation..

The Army Physical Training Corps (APTC) Ustaad (an expert or highly skilled person), post retirement is a very visible face in private educational institutions and has held sway in this, for the past many years.

In the recent past, those Ustaads who are specialist in any of the several skills, taught and acquired during service either in the Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT), Pune or else in martial art institutions in civil domain have dedicated and committed themselves to train the youth in their village / town/ city.

Those who are employed as Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) in schools leverage their in- service experience and put it to good use and get a financial compensation for it, but those who put their talents and skills to good use and are driven by a sense of service to the community, is what needs to be enhanced.

It is therefore that, I make an argument for upgrading and buoying up the learning and knowledge quotient in the syllabi and curriculum of the APTC’s mother institution – AIPT, Pune. It has been for far too long that, the APTC has traded in its most favoured tool and which gives it, its most cherished identity. This tool is the foundational gymnastics around which the Ustaad has evolved and grown.

Given that, the Demographic Youth Dividend, which is the potential for a country’s economic production to witness a boost when its active population (15 to 64 years) outnumbers its dependent population (14 and younger and 65 and older), is to our advantage and will remain till 2040.

Hence, to have more fit and healthy citizens will value add to the quality of our demographic dividend. India falls dramatically in health and survival, ranking 135 out of 146 countries. 

While, the health index of a country is influenced by a range of factors, including healthcare infrastructure, access to healthcare services, quality of healthcare, sanitation, nutrition, lifestyle factors, education, income levels, and social and environmental conditions.

These elements collectively contribute to the overall wellbeing and health outcomes of the population. These lead to fitness (perform in their field of activity) of a population, which depends on physical health, mental wellbeing, lifestyle choices, access to healthcare, environmental conditions and socioeconomic factors.

Additionally, factors like healthcare policies and infrastructure play a crucial role in promoting and maintaining the population’s fitness. While, most factors as have been mentioned above remains in the realm of the Federal / State Government and policies enunciated by these, but it is my case that the veteran Ustaad of the APTC, who has years of experience behind him can contribute to the community and society in equal measure. It is a non zero sum game. A win, win situation.

Therefore, there is a huge opportunity for the educationally empowered and knowledge driven Ustaad to become a valuable and skilled human capital, who can make a contribution in realising health and fitness goals of a favourable demographic dividend. We have about 1,00,000 gymnasia in India and which offers a huge opportunity for fitness trainers.

But, unfortunately, the APTC doesn’t have Ustaads who is a fitness trainer in any of these gymnasia. This, may come as a big surprise for the APTC, only because our Ustaad has very rich experience to back him up, but finds himself marginalised owing to his want of pedagogic skills, profound subject knowledge and communication skills.

While our Ustaads are able to train with the backing of military discipline, which is enforced upon the trainees during military service, they woefully lack the depth of knowledge and verbalization that is essential to survive in a competitive capital market. It is this, which is my purpose of writing this essay.

With our Ustaads superannuating between 45 to 50 years of age, hence they have a very long life-span to continue to give service as a trainer , in a growing culture of gymnasia which has engulfed the country. There is a huge opportunity for them. When, I was in service I had the opportunity to interact with and sell an idea of the veteran Ustaad contributing to society in his home town / village, to Mr Mani Shankar Aiyyar, the then Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. He followed it up by asking the Sports Secretary Mr Khanna to flesh out a scheme for the purpose. The Scheme entailed integrating the veteran Ustaad into the village / town development initiatives, which aimed at health and fitness programmes.

The Ustaad, without dislocating himself from his permanent residence would be gainfully employed with a financial compensation. Unfortunately, the proposal tanked because MrAiyyar was shifted from his office for political reasons, as he was at loggerheads with MrKalmadi the Chairman of the Commonwealth Games 2010 Organising Committee, the Games being due two years hence. This was an opportunity, which we lost.

However, now that we have moved ahead in time , the suggestion to empower our Ustaads and develop their communication skills during service, is well worth considering by those who are in harness in the Corps hierarchy. 

Our Ustaad must transit from a PTI in schools, which is the prevailing trend to a Trainer, which has immense possibilities for growth and edification to make a greater contribution with their skill.

Through these efforts, our veterans can contribute significantly to fostering a culture of health and exercise, positively impacting both individuals and communities.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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