Musician Martin Gladstone is a member of the Corps of Army Music and is currently assigned to the Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland based in Edinburgh. He recently passed the Army Physical Training Instructors’ course in Aldershot and this is his story about those tough couple of weeks…
To say the first day at the Army School of Physical Training (ASPT) was daunting would be an understatement. 117 soldiers from all cap badges and backgrounds were sitting in Fox Gymnasium. Everybody is there to prove they have the physical and mental determination to pass the initial fitness assessment. Success will allow them to continue the nine week course and subsequently become All Arms Physical Training Instructors (PTI).
The morning consisted of an opening brief by Sergeant Walsh, the course co-ordinator, highlighting what was expected of us during our time at the ASPT followed by the eagerly awaited personal fitness assessment.
The fitness assessment was split in to two separate waves because of the large intake. The first part of assessment included the normal timed press-ups and sit-ups, however, the PTI assessment required slightly more – 50 press-ups and 60 sit-ups completed under the watchful eye of the ASPT permanent staff making sure there was no slacking and the exercises were performed correctly and efficiently.
The aerobic phase of the test was carried out on the track, the first part being the 800m warm-up followed by the 2.4km ‘best effort’ run – to be completed in less than nine minutes 30-seconds. The experience of 60 candidates running on a track at the same time is one I hope I never had to endure again! After you cross the line, the waiting game begins. You are then told later that day if you have passed or failed.
The second of the tests, held on Tuesday morning, was the Military Swim Test (MST). This included jumping into the water, treading water for two minutes and swimming 100m, as well as getting out of the pool unaided. This was a straight pass or fail.
The final test of the week was the Annual Fitness Test (AFT) consisting of eight miles carrying approximately 25kg (a bergan and a rifle) – a lot heavier than the usual 15kg the Corps of Army Music carry! This was a physically demanding loaded march over undulating terrain on the Aldershot training area. This had to be completed in less than one-hour and 50-minutes. The AFT marked the end of the test week and a weekend to rest. It was a great feeling to know that I had passed the PTI tests and could continue on the course.
The week after the course was split into six sections, each with its own section commanders who were all Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC) instructors. As well as taking and participating in lessons daily, there were flag competitions.
Flag competitions were held every Friday morning. They included a variety of different activities ranging from athletics to battle PT. This was an opportunity to go up against other sections throughout the course to compete for pride but also for the flag of the RAPTC, which was presented to the winning section on pass off day.
Pass Off Parade
The pass off parade consisted of six displays, one display per section, to demonstrate the skills obtained throughout the nine-week physically demanding course. The audience included family members of those who undertook the course as well as the Colonel Commandant of the RAPTC in attendance. The parade concluded with the high horse display, performed by the permanent staff, newly badged personnel from the RAPTC and the PTI class one course.
It was a proud feeling to finally stand on parade wearing the crossed-swords across our chests having successfully completed the course.