Fitness then and now

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Guzzler, May 16, 2012.

Welcome to the Navy Net aka Rum Ration

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial RN website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. I've been musing over recent stuff about relative fitness of matelots past and present and sense a bit of a paradox.

    I am amongst the many oldies that mock the apparent inability of young men and women to run a mile and a half in less than a forenoon, but on reflection there seems to be something wrong with my musings.

    I was certainly not a super-fit shining example of Britain's youth when I joined in '77, but had little problems with the fitness regime at Raleigh when I joined - I don't know how it compares to the current one, though I can't remember much being measured as it is now. We just did whatever the (then masculine, tattooed and well hard) club-swingers told us to until we threw up or whatever. My first draft was Yeovilton where my killick taught me to drink about four pints most lunchtimes, and on Saturdays go to the Albion and drink into oblivion before returning to the base and have an incredibly dangerous game of 17 a-side in the gym with everyone completely bollocksed (sp?). By 22ish I prided myself on being able to drink industrial amounts of alcohol - a pride shared by many of my colleagues. Fortunately for me I pulled out of it, and from killick's leadership course onwards my liver, lungs and kidneys returned to only severly damaged, and I distance ran, played football and did other splendid healthy stuff.

    Now there is a far more organised and measured fitness programme and the (scrawny, effete and hair-gelled) club-swingers note everything down on a blue clipboard. However, I get the impression that many of those joining now are, as I mentioned above, unable to run at anything faster than an asthmatic snail's pace, yet soon after they join the fleet many matelots are now as fit and healthy as one should expect from a military organisation.

    This isn't a fight provoker (sorry), and I can envisage theories such as cold war v real war, general (civvy) culture, more 'moral fibre' in us unhealthy but determined coffin dodgers and/or an improvement in attitudes within the forces, but be interested to read the views and insults of others.

    Would say more but need another bottle of rum before bed as I'm up at six for ten smokes and a 'real' field-gun run.

    (Not checked for good English as it's not an exam so why should I bovver? I mean I can speel things right but why should I eh?)
  2. I see where you're coming from Guzzler. My view is that the whole ethos has changed - I sometimes wish I was in the RN of old where you worked in the morning, went to the Mess at lunchtime and sank a few then spent the afternoon either doing nothing or a bit of phys. I suppose the reality is that society has changed - drinking at lunchtime is frowned upon and the health & safety culture has meant that every activity has to be risk assessed, hence the possibly slightly tamer PT sessions.

    At the same time, the RN of old was not a healthy thing. There were plenty of fat knacker CPOs and Lt Cdrs kicking around who would have had bother getting through a kidney hatch if anything ever did kick off. Sure they were good at their job and could drink anyone under the table, but were they the image of a fighting force? I think today's RN is fitter and more task-focussed and probably a hell of a lot more productive. RNFT standards arn't terribly difficult, but the RNFT has helped get rid of a load of people who weren't fit for much.
  3. This is an interesting one. I too do not recall Raleigh as being physically hard, though I was an outdoor type lad and also played rugby. I do remember when they introduced the Fitness Test first time round that there were folk dropping like flies and one poor chap actually died.

    I also recall my first boat chief being told he was overweight and called back aft to get weighed - he was to diet and be weighed again in a fortnight to monitor his progress. When he returned to the Cab Space he said he'd piss it.......... as he removed copious heavy items from all his pockets! His 'weight loss' was praised and he was not bothered any more!
  4. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    The main difference is lifestyle before joining. I joined in 1960, limited TV (not everyone had one and it didn't get broadcast 24/7. No computers on Playstations etc.

    Most joined the RN straight from school where it was PT for everyone. Kids were out and about most of the time rather than sat in the house. Most lads had part time jobs whilst still at school and age restrictions weren't really bothered with.

    I spent the majority of my 12 years service in Boats, we drank and played hard whilst ashore, but for anyone to drink to excess at sea was rare in the extreme. I'm talking about the regulation two cans of beer.

    I frequently read on this forum about drunkeness at sea, I can only say that I very rarely saw it in Boats, perhaps it was a general service problem. The problem drinkers that I came across in Gens. were in the main time serving Senior Rates.
  5. Echoing previous statements I can't remember anyone being taken to school by car which seems to be the norm these days, we all walked or cycled in. I never had too much of a problem with the phys at Ganges however on my first ship there were the hard core 3 badge AB's who were good for **** all most afternoons and many SR's never appeared in the afternoon either. I recall one CPO who couldn't get down kidney hatches and was allowed to wear slippers or sandals as his gout meant he couldn't wear bats.
  6. Likewise!

    I wasn't particularly fit when I joined Raleigh in '71 but was a lot fitter when I left having marched/doubled/run everywhere! But having said that I didn't find the phys particularly difficult or arduous!

    I also didn't find a great amount of drunkeness at sea with very little drinking done away from the wall ... but yes once alongside everyone played reasonably hard. There are obviously exceptions to the rule and there were a couple of Chiefs who still lived in the age of sail and had a tot whatever and yes there was an alchoholics or two turn up now and again but it didn't appear to be the norm.

    Shoreside there were a couple of SR's who liked to go to the mess for a few sherbets lunchtime who hopefully retired to their cabin to sleep it off but occasionally came back to the dept and gave us a beasting ... you learnt to keep your head down and not attract attention!

    As for being fit ... plenty of "Old Salts" down the Falklands who in todays modern Navy would probably have been discharged medically unfit, but they worked as hard and as long as the next guy and fought the ship effectively. So really I don't know if the Navy of today does need to be so fit as the rules appear to demand ... certainly systems were more muscle powered then rather than automated or mechanical so less effort required by the operator now than in my Navy ...

    But I could be wrong ... thats just how it appears to me after reading the posts on BFT's etc.
  7. jockpopeye

    jockpopeye Badgeman Book Reviewer

    I suspect that modern diet makes for chubbier recruits now.

    Also I suspect that most recruits will now worked or been to college / uni or both before joining. As most courses and jobs are now sedentiary they will be out of shape by their early twenties.

    I am a case in point worked on a local farm when at school, cycled everywhere and spent my spare time hillwalking, fishing and playing football. There was a lot of drinking as well but all that activity more than compensated. fast forward ten years and univeristy in the city followed by a desk job and I was one fat knacker.

    When I decided that I wanted to join the RNR it was more than a year of effort on fitness and eating to get into a position where I thought that I would pass the RNFT and mdeical.

    A lot of the helpful comments on here and Arrse for new recruits who are struggling with their fitness are often not particularly useful, as if you went in straight from school you will most likely never have gone through the challenge of regaining your fitness after having lost it. Going from fit to fitter is much easier than going from unfit to fit.

    With hindsight the trick is never to have lost it in the first place.
  8. Maybe it's because we don't tend to have a lot of manual work nowadays that has reduced "natural" fitness so it's had to be made compulsory. Even storing ship is done with conveyor belt machines these days although it still gets humped about once struck below (standfast boats where it's still done manually AFAIK)

  9. The honking diet of the average Joe in the last twenty years doesn't help either, the eighties and "convenience" have a lot to answer for.
  10. I'd had one civy job after leaving school involving hard work loading and unloading trucks before joining up in the 1950s. I'd walked or cycled or ran to and from school and work. I was a junior cross country champion at county level, a keen road runner, member of Ross On Wye A.C. I did not have to pass a fitness test back then and had no trouble with P.T.took everything the club swingers could throw at me. After training I pissed up and bagged off at every chance but still gave my oppos the shits by rising before call the hands to run from The Hard to Eastney and back. No designer trainers just pumps and tennis shoes. In later drafts I was appalled by the state of some obese senior rates. Its a whole new ball game today I know nothing of the ratings of this time, but feel that fitness tests are a good thing and were long overdue.
  11. So far i've been on the old RNAC and recently the new PRNC and on each course only a single person failed both the swim and the run. And we are all civvies still with minimal input from the clubs. Most coped quite well and got home within the required time with some to spare. Even the upper body sessions didn't cause trouble.

    So i would say the majority don't have a problem with the fitness tests. Partly this is down to the threat of failing of course if they don't put out, but they do pass which is what matters most.

    After getting to know a few of the lads i found out that most do play a sport of some kind and are generally very active. As far as the old navy goes i can't compare as i wasn't there, but i would like to think these guys and myself will go on to keep the navy fit and active.

    Maybe the wet ones on here who complain about the fitness required are few and far between?
    Last edited: May 16, 2012
  12. As a sprog civvy, I used to cycle 19 miles to work - and 19 miles back again, Mon-Fri (and the odd W/E). I swam in the
    North Sea, was a lifeguard at the local outdoor pool and could climb cliffs like a fu**ing mountain goat. The RN sort of
    kept me fit'ish but then along came Das Boots and whatever fitness regime I had in my head, went out of the fu**ing
    window, although there was plenty of opportunity to sort your six-pack out by storing ship. Try spending all day loading
    O2 candles and then tell me you've not had a total body workout. Plenty drink, plenty food didn't help much, but I didn't
    turn into a chubster and managed to get meself discharged out after 22 as fit as an elderly butchers dog.

    And now?

    Well - from 2007 up until the present day, I have endured arthritis and undergone three knee replacements and you
    only get issued with two fu**ing legs! Joint pain is a son-of-a-bitch, but I've just come indoors for a quick browse
    (been outside laying new decking), saw this thread and thought I'd add me ten pence worth. I do what I can, I
    limp a lot, I can't kneel down/get out of chairs/climb ladders etc and I'm normally a right grumpy bastard, but
    what can y'do? Back to hospital on 14th June for yet ANOTHER hack'n'slice on the left knee (3rd time), and it's
    getting right on me tits it is............57 year of age, weigh in at about 14 stone, six feet one inch and bald, but
    hanging in there with the help of Oral morphine, Co-codamol, Naproxen, Gabapentin, Quinine and fu**ing horrible
    knee bandages. It's hard to jog when you can't even fu**ing walk properly, so diet keeps me tonnage down and
    as much D.I.Y. as the bones can deal with keep the belly at a reasonable dimension. Passed all the Royal Arthur
    courses they sent me on, and I did actually come 4th out of about 25 on a Squad Run once, and I was the oldest
    twat in the class at the time, and the only sun-dodger to boot so I must've been doing something right. So there
    you have Gym membership for me, no jogging down the pavement at half six in the morning and fu**ing
    FORGET about trying to get on a racing bike. Normal everyday living and a full day doing what I'm told to do
    keeps me looking like Rocky Balboa after ten years on the piss. (i.e. half decent, but could do better).


    Billy the one with no friends.
  13. I have a theory (based on nothing but observation) about fitness. I think if you are thin and fit in your teenage years when your body is changing, then you'll always be able to get back to it reasonably easily even if you put on a few pounds in between. If you're a chubby teenager, then you will never be on the cover of Men's Health no matter how many protein shakes you down and how long you spend in the gym.

    This sort of is in line with what posters above have said about being fit when at school and then not having probs in RALEIGH.
  14. After a gap of four years of being in a proper navy unit. I am pleased to say it seems that standards seem to have increased quite a lot. The number of fatties has reduced a lot or at least i have memory's of there being far more. Dont get me wrong there are still a few people who appear to be morbidly obese. And with a new RNFT supposed to be coming in next year seems the navy is taking a positive new path.
  15. You make me feel great Billy, I'm 55 and never been in a hospital or had any ailments apart from hangovers, did 33.5 years and only 3 days sick on shore the whole time, just picked up the usual scars and bruises that pusser gives you.

    Agree with loading of candles for the workout, that and abortion unit canisters especially when you realise you've stowed them the wrong way up.

    Wrecker the smug bastard
  16. Ill admit I am struggling with preparing for my fitness test which I am expecting in around 6 weeks or so mainly due to a lack of consistent exercise since I left school 6 years ago. I was at my fittest around 2 years ago whilst spending just over a year training in mma on a strict basis(at that time id piss the test) To comment on an above post ive always been stocky, at the moment im 15stone (6ft 2") and i blame it mainly on crappy work lunches and lack of exercise. I dunno moral is low at the moment, just brought some insoles though for my incredibly flat feet hopefully they will take some of the running pain away!
  17. "Ubberly bubblery" That's the phrase I was trying to remember in my last post;- is how we used to describe fat knacker senior rates.
  18. (granny)

    (granny) Book Reviewer

    Fitness never seemed to be a problem when I joined as a young OD in 1951. The majority of us seemed to be built like whippets. We had gone through the rationing of the 2nd ww and 'fatties' were rare. Don't ever remember having to run any distance, just gym work. My biggest problem was the swimming test. I could just about 'dog paddle' 20 feet. It took me a good 12 months to pass the swimming test. By todays standards I would never have been able to join. I was quite proud, and utterly knackered, when I eventually passed. No one accepted my excuse that I intended to float on top of the water, not be in it.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Jacks fitness doesn’t bother me that much, I don’t see an occasion when I’ll be trying to catch one, what does concern a little is that we are giving weapons to people who, on here ask questions like, will I get the opportunity to travel in the Navy, will I be away from home if I join the Navy, during the swimming test do I have to swim, I’ve lost my………insert anything from dog to, will to live , what do I do?.
  20. Don't worry Sharkey, when they get down the ranges and ask which end the bullets come out of the opportunity will present itself to cleanse the gene pool.
    • Like Like x 3

Share This Page