Singing a song and fitness tests

I hope the door of our flat provides adequate sound proofing. As well as my almost constant swearing and playing of NWA’s greatest hits, today I started singing, in a Weimar cabaret style,

Money money money, is stuff I like to spend
If you have someone else’s money, you do not need friends
Spending spending money, always very nice
Try to avoid being tracked by a device
Monet money money, more of it for me

… and so on. Without aspirations to start my own nightclub in pre-WW2 Berlin, that song is not much use, so I hope the only audience were a series of cephalopod-shaped stuffed toys. If my neighbours down the hall hear me extolling my spendthrift ways, they might take umbrage. Or it might count as a patriotic attempt to pump the economy – there’s only one way to find out.

In the news today in Singapore, it was announced that the fitness test for National Servicemen has been modified. As I’m not a Singaporean or a second generation male permanent resident, this has little impact on me directly, although I found it odd that the paper talked about bringing the test more in line with tests in other countries like the US and the UK, neither of which have compulsory national service, and thus don’t need to test all their men-of-combat-age for fitness.

The test used to require you to run 2.4km in under 13 minutes. Let’s be honest: that’s really a mile and a half, so why not call it that, instead of going for such an arbitrary metric distance? Some sit ups, some chin ups, a 4x10m shuttle run, and a standing jump, the last of which simulates jumping over holes in the ground, or some other such military application.

They’re getting rid of the shuttle run, the standing jump and the chin ups, and adding press ups in. News of this was met with delight from some people, as the standing jump and the chin ups are quite hard, but it seemed a bit odd, to say the least. If you’re going to make people do a fitness test to ensure they can fight, surely you’d want something that was reasonably stringent. If instead, scrawny and ill-disciplined people like me, who can run 2.4km in well under ten minutes, can pass the test, I wonder what you’re testing for. There was some grumbling from fitness instructors about it being too easy, although they could be biased – perhaps there’s a good niche in Singapore for personal trainers to get people through their compulsory fitness tests.

Then again, with the increased automation and mechanization of warfare, perhaps cardiovascular ability is to be prized over brute strength. Skinny computer operators may be less likely to keel over while flying drones than chubbier people, but then what is the point of the press ups?

I shouldn’t criticize. After all, I don’t have anything in this game. Even if I became a permanent resident, at this point I wouldn’t be able to do national service even if I asked to. Although if they asked me why I wanted to, and I told them it was because I love firing guns in the air (it’s all that NWA and gangsta rap I’ve been listening to) any sensible NCO would have me confined to the Stores, counting bootlaces for the whole of my engagement.

2 thoughts on “Singing a song and fitness tests

  1. Can anyone actually do chin ups? I speak as a lowly-upper-body-strengthed female.

    Is failing the fitness test not a good way of getting out of National Service, or does it not work like that?

  2. I’m sure it’s good to let your neighbours hear different types of noise, after all, they seem to tolerate the songbirds in the square below !

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