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HMS Excellent sailor rewarded for raising Navy fitness rates

7 April 2016
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Normally encouraging shipmates to shed pounds, Chief Petty Officer (Physical Training) Keith ‘Mac’ McCormick accumulated them – £400 to be precise as his unstinting efforts to get sailors and marines at HMS Excellent fit were singled out.

The establishment’s Commanding Officer Commander Martin Evans determined Mac was worthy of a Herbert Lott award which acknowledges efforts made by military or civilian personnel to make the Senior Service more efficient – and hence more effective.

In the case of the senior rating, during his two years as the ranking physical training instructor on Whale Island – which is home, among other things, to the Navy’s headquarters in Leach Building, the Phoenix Damage Control school and accommodation ship HMS Bristol – he’s promoted healthy living, introduced nutritional advice and encouraged and offered more opportunities for military and civilian personnel working at Excellent.

When the 38-year-old, who hails originally from Newton Heath in north-east Manchester (also the birthplace of Manchester United) took over at the gym (designed for 400 people), it was expected to deal with a population on the island at its peak of more than 2,500.

Mac’s efforts secured funding from the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity to increase capacity by building a mezzanine floor – which has helped to raise usage by more than a half.

CPO McCormick’s ideas, innovation and efficiencies, combined with his warm, friendly approach has made HMS Excellent gym the most inclusive I have ever come across

Commander Martin Evans, Commanding Officer HMS Excellent

With the assistance of his small team, the chief PTI has brought in a range of generic and bespoke fitness programmes, including kratos (fitness/acrobatics) and the 100 and 500-mile clubs, been heavily engaged in the RN-wide Navyfit initiative which has been running since January, and ensured that more than nine out of every ten sailors and Royal Marines posted to HMS Excellent are ‘in date’ for their fitness tests.

The initiatives don’t stop there: Mac, who now lives in Clanfield, has introduced simple exercises and routines for the office environment and provided advice on how to improve posture and alleviate back pain.

He sends out weekly health, fitness and nutritional tips in a simple, easy-to-read email, and twice a week hosts a planned ‘drop-in’ crèche to broaden gym access for MOD staff with young children.

“It has been a pleasure working on Whale Island,” said Mac. “I have loved working with my small team to deliver personal development, advising on realistic and sustainable changes to people’s lives – they’ve been receptive – and looking at physical training in a different way.”

All of which impressed Cdr Evans, who presented Mac with his award as the PTI prepared to move to a new post as a career manager for the Senior Service’s physical trainers.

“CPO McCormick’s ideas, innovation and efficiencies, combined with his warm, friendly approach has made HMS Excellent gym the most inclusive I have ever come across,” said Excellent’s Commanding Officer.

“The impact on Establishment fitness and staff ‘well-being’ has been tangible and CPO McCormick’s achievements have been highly praised by the head of the Physical Training specialisation, who regularly uses them as examples of how participation in, and benefit from, personal development can be increased through initiative and innovation.”

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