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1.0 Introduction

This article provides an overview of the New Zealand Army Physical Training Corps (NZAPTC), part of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and NZA Physical Training Instructors (PTI’s).

2.0 What is the New Zealand Army Physical Training Corps?

The New Zealand Army Physical Training Corps (NZAPTC) provides programmes and activities to maintain fitness levels and build confidence among New Zealand Army personnel.

It also provides initial and career training for NZA PTI’s.

The NZAPTC started life during World War One as the Physical Training Staff. It was given its current name on 01 June 1987 when it became a distinct unit. British Army PTI badges were worn until a distinctive New Zealand badge was introduced in 1995.

In March 2016, all Navy, Army and Air Force Physical Training Instructors were amalgamated into the new NZDF tri-Service unit known as the Joint Operational Health Group.

3.0 Where is the NZAPTC Located?

The NZAPTC is located in Trentham Military Camp, Trentham, in the Wellington region, at the south-western tip of the North Island.

4.0 What is the Role of a NZA Physical Training Instructor?

The role of a NZA PTI includes:

  • General:
    • Developing and maintaining the health, fitness and well-being of soldiers.
    • Responsibility for ensuring that personnel are physically capable to conduct their operational duties, and continue to be ‘Fit to Fight’ throughout their careers.
    • Contributing to soldier’s mental health and resilience; and
    • Supporting well-being and leadership development through team based activities.
  • In Camp:
    • Deliver regular physical training sessions.
    • Deliver purpose designed instruction in strength, conditioning, endurance, resilience, and close quarter battle (CQB).
    • Assist medical and allied health practitioners in conducting exercise rehabilitation.
    • Work across military functional groups to support sport and recreational activities.
  • On Deployment:
    • Deployment on operations may include trade specific functions or general duties, such as force protection (depending on training and experience).
    • When deployed as a contingent PTI, the role differs very little to in camp, training both NZ and allied personnel.

5.0 Who is Eligible to Become a NZA PTI?

There are two methods of entry to become a qualified PTI in the NZA (Defence Careers, 2018; Indeed, 2019):

  • Direct Entry (External Candidates):
    • This method of entry is for candidates who already hold an appropriate fitness-related trade qualification.
    • A recognised tertiary level qualification (minimum of Certificate/Diploma) in Sport Science, Sports, Exercise or Physical Education.
    • Industry experience is desirable.
    • Must pass the selection course.
    • Unlike in-service transfers, direct entry candidates do not have to start at the bottom (e.g. rank).
    • Candidates still have to complete Phase 1 basic training (i.e. initial Recruit Course), during which they are paid as a recruit.
    • On completion of recruit training candidates are paid as a PTI under training, until qualified on the PTI Primary Course.
    • Must be medically fit for service and colour perception restrictions may apply.
    • Must be at least 17 years old.
    • Must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
    • Must have no criminal convictions.
  • In-Service Transfer (Internal Candidates):
    • This method of entry is for candidates who may not hold an appropriate fitness-related trade qualification and are already in the Army.
    • Must be a member of the Regular force.
    • Must pass the selection course.

6.0 NZAPTC Selection Course

Both direct entry and in-service transfers must attend and pass the NZAPTC selection course.

In-service transfer candidates must register their interest with their Regional Physical Training Advisor (RPTA), who will approve or reject attendance at the selection course.

The selection course takes place over four days at the Waiouru Training Facility, central North Island. Previously five days (Archer, 2008).

As part of the selection course, candidates will:

  • Complete fitness tests that gauge potential in a range of fitness components: endurance; strength; power; co-ordination; balance; speed; and agility.
  • Be assessed for psychological suitability, public speaking, teamwork, leadership, interpersonal communication, and potential as an instructor.

In 2008, “Under the overall supervision of Course Manager SSGT Rob Warrender NZAPTC, the candidates were assessed by three qualified PTIs, while three other PTIs put them through their paces.” (Archer, 2008, p.10). Only two of the six candidates were selected.

Tasks as part of the 2008 selection course included (Archer, 2008):

  • Gym work;
  • Timed RFL;
  • Route march;
  • Climbing high ropes; and
  • Life-saving drills.

7.0 Phase 1 Basic Training

Direct entry candidates will undertake 16 weeks of basic training at the Waiouru Training Facility learning various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration.
  • Army Customs and Protocol.
  • Drill and Parades.
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training.
  • First Aid.
  • Physical Fitness.

8.0 Assistant Physical Training Instructor

In 2008, the NZDF Physical Education and Recreational Training School was delivering a seven week Assistant Physical Training Instructor (APTI) course (Archer, 2008).

This course qualified candidates to:

  • Assist and take physical training classes;
  • Conduct fitness testing; and
  • Manage events.

9.0 Primary Physical Training Instructor Course

Candidates are who selected for further training will attend the 20-week (tri-Service) Primary Physical Training Instructor Course (PPTIC) delivered by the NZDF Physical Education and Recreational Training School. In 2008, the PPTIC was 23 weeks in duration (Archer, 2008).

The School is located at the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Woodbourne, 8 km west of Blenheim at the top of the South Island.

The PPTIC is a tri-Service course, meaning candidates attend with peers from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The PPTIC covers:

  • Physical Training planning and conduct;
  • Principles of training;
  • Exercise coaching;
  • Anatomy and physiology;
  • Group fitness instruction;
  • Recreational event planning & delivery; and
  • Swimming instruction.

Successful completion of the PPTIC means candidates will advance to 18 months of ‘on-the-job’ training as “Primary Qualified PTIs” (Archer, 2008, p.10).

10.0 Advance Physical Training Instructor Course

After completing their on-the-job training candidates will attend the 16-week Advanced Physical Training Instructor Course (APTIC). There can be up to eight candidates attending this course, but that number is rare (Archer, 2008).

The APTIC is delivered at RNZAF Base Woodbourne and is designed to reinforce the relationship that science and research has with practical conditioning practices.

During this course, candidates will study (RNZAF, 2011):

  • Anatomy;
  • Exercise physiology;
  • Kinesiology;
  • Biomechanics;
  • Advanced programming for both sports teams and individuals;
  • Sports medicine; and
  • Carry out an in-depth study of how a particular training system affects different components of physical fitness (aka a major research project).

In 2008, successful completion of the APTIC meant candidates were awarded a NZ National Diploma in Fitness (Archer, 2008). Candidates are now eligible to apply for the Joint Services Diploma in Physical Education and Recreational Training.

The first tri-Service course graduated in August 2011 and was a 13 week residential course (RNZAF, 2011). It was the first course conducted under the new organisational structure of the Defence Training Institute, home to common training in the Training and Education Directorate (TED) (RNZAF, 2011).

11.0 Ongoing Training

Candidates will continue with tertiary study throughout their career, with opportunities to further knowledge through exercise science research becoming commonplace for PTI’s within the NZDF.

Due to the constantly evolving nature of the fitness industry, candidates are also required to maintain professional competency and keep up to date with best practice. This can be facilitated by attending various:

  • Industry best practice training courses;
  • Conferences; and
  • Overseas training with other Defence Forces.

12.0 Specialist Training

There a number of ongoing employment opportunities at various rank levels are, including:

  • Strength and Conditioning Instructor.
  • Close Quarter Battle (CQB) Instructor:
    • All soldiers are trained in basic CQB.
    • PTI’s are trained to a higher level and are responsible for the delivery of CQB courses and maintenance of CQB skills within the NZ Army.
    • PTI’s undergo a progressive training model delivered by experienced NZ Army and civilian CQB instructors.
  • Exercise Rehabilitation Instructor:
    • All PTI’s are given the opportunity to attend this course, which covers the rehabilitation of soldiers from injury or illness, and qualifies the PTI to complement the work of NZDF physiotherapists in returning personnel to active duty following injury.
  • ‘Out of Trade’ Roles:
    • As a PTI’s career progresses, postings out of a PTI role are essential to maintain general soldier competencies and develop leadership skills.
    • At certain stages of a PTI’s career they may be posted out of trade into a regimental or generic training position.
    • These opportunities complement a PTI’s training and open up career opportunities.

13.0 Workplace Locations

As a PTI candidates could be posted to any one of four major NZ Army camps in Waiouru, Linton, Trentham or Burnham.

14.0 References

Archer, J. (2008) PTI Selection Course. Army News: Magazine of the New Zealand Army. Issue 389. 03 July 2008, pp.10-11.

Defence Careers. (2018) Physical Training Instructor. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 27 December, 2018].

Indeed. (2019) Physical Training Instructor – NZ Army. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 02 January, 2019].

RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Air Force). (2011) Common Training Enjoyed by Phys Ed Graduates. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 27 December, 2018].