Lean, mean polic­ing ma­chine

‘Amaz­ing’ re­sponse to cop fit­ness pi­lot, writes BIANCA CAPAZORIO

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

CAPE Town’s Metro Po­lice may be looking a lit­tle more svelte th­ese days af­ter a 30-day pi­lot pro­gramme got them ex­er­cis­ing and sweat­ing their way to fit­ness. Around 600 Metro Po­lice of­fi­cers, all con­sta­bles and sergeants, were signed up for the pi­lot pro­gramme which came to an end this week. Each of­fi­cer had to at­tend at least two 40-minute train­ing ses­sions a week in a bid to get of­fi­cers fit­ter, and, in some cases, leaner.

In class, a group of of­fi­cers are taken through their paces from gen­tle stretch­ing to heavy duty push-ups and mar­tial arts. Trainer Sen­sei Thu­lani Ndlovu (Sen­sei is his real, birth name) makes it all look in­cred­i­bly easy, but he has his stu­dents puff­ing and panting their way through the class in no time at all.

Ndlovu, who is train­ing the of­fi­cers at the Civic Cen­tre site, said that those at­tend­ing had re­ally “seen the value” and many were at­tend­ing ev­ery day, even on their days off, in or­der to ex­er­cise more.

“Like this we can make sure that th­ese of­fi­cers are role-mod­els and not peo­ple to be laughed at be­cause they can’t get out of their cars,” he said.

Ndlovu is one of 16 train­ers who have been putting the of­fi­cers through their paces for the past month. His classes com­bine mar­tial arts, fit­ness, strength train­ing and run­ning drills. Ses­sions are con­ducted at four sites across the city.

Deputy Chief of the Metro Po­lice Yolande Faro said: “There has been a def­i­nite im­prove­ment in fit­ness and en­ergy lev­els. We cer­tainly achieved what we set out to do. But the Fit­ness and Well­ness Pro­gramme did more than just achieve great re­sults on a phys­i­cal level. It did won­ders on an emo­tional level – for ex­am­ple, where team build­ing and group co­he­sive­ness is con­cerned.”

Faro said that while the pro­gramme had been a “re­sound­ing suc­cess”, no fi­nal de­ci­sion had been made on whether to con­tinue it.

And even though it was be­ing de­clared a suc­cess, it was not an­tic­i­pated that the pro­gramme would be­come as pop­u­lar as it has.

“We did not ex­pect the ap­prox­i­mately 600 po­lice of­fi­cers who took part in this ex­er­cise pro­gramme to en­joy it as much as they did. I think many of­fi­cers had their reser­va­tions in the beginning.

“Gen­er­ally, peo­ple don’t like change. But the pro­gramme kicked off with a fair amount of en­thu­si­asm and soon the of­fi­cers were mo­ti­vat­ing and in­spir­ing each other to train harder.”

Most of the Metro Po­lice of­fi­cers work 12-hour shifts, and fit­ting ex­er­cise into their day has proven dif­fi­cult. The ex­er­cise pro­gramme makes time for ex­er­cise dur­ing the of­fi­cers’ shifts. Of­fi­cers are ex­pected to at­tend a class when­ever they are on duty, with a min­i­mum of two ses­sions a week. At­ten­dance is mon­i­tored on cards which are dated.

“Over four weeks, each per­son should have at­tended eight times but we have guys al­ready on their sec­ond card who have at­tended 14 ses­sions.”

Jeni Ab­dul, who was con­tracted by the depart­ment to put the fit­ness plan to­gether, said the re­sponse had been “amaz­ing”. Of­fi­cers who had en­joyed the pro­gramme were now pe­ti­tion­ing to make it a per­ma­nent fix­ture. “In Philippi, I’m told that on av­er­age the of­fi­cers there have cut their 2.4km run time by over one minute.

“There are now only three of­fi­cers there who can’t run the 2.4km in un­der 10 min­utes and one of them is a 54-year-old woman.”

Ab­dul has been trav­el­ling be­tween the four re­gions across Cape Town to check progress, and has been roped into a num­ber of the ex­er­cises, kick­ing and punch­ing the of­fi­cers with gusto.

Ndlovu said he could al­ready see an in­crease in their fit­ness lev­els of those who had been ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly.

Wayne Wil­son, who has been at­tend­ing the classes, has no­ticed a dif­fer­ence in his waist­line and in his at­ti­tude. He has lost 4kg since the start.

“It’s good for de-stress­ing. In the en­vi­ron­ment we work in, we’re al­ways un­der pres­sure from top man­age­ment and from the pub­lic, and this helps us.”

Sha­heeda Ma­datt said she had lost 2kg in the past month. She at­tended ses­sions ev­ery day from Mon­day to Thurs­day. “When I started I used to sweat a lot, but now it’s just sec­ond na­ture to me.”

READY TO GO: Sha­heeda Ma­datt has lost two ki­los over the past month.

PIC­TURES: IAN LANDSBERG

HANDS UP: Trainer Sen­sei Thu­lani Ndlovu helps Metro of­fi­cers stretch be­fore get­ting their blood pump­ing in a 40 minute ex­er­cise ses­sion.

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