Come With Me If You Want to Lift: A Day in the Life of the RMC PE Staff
Article by Kevin Wakelam, Supplementary Physical Training Coordinator – Physical Education Department
The sea of Red Coats that normally flows between the weight room and field house has dried up to but a trickle. Yet there is still a strong RMC presence in the KMCSC during the hot Kingston summer. The RMC PE Department remains to watch over the domain. There is but a moment to celebrate the end of classes and the accomplishments of the past year before we retreat to our iron palace to make preparations for the coming year. I invite you to come along with me to see all it is that we do here in the RMC PE Department during the summer months.
As you near the PE hallway, you begin to hear a soothing trickling sound and not long after your nostrils are filled with the heavenly aroma of the world’s greatest beverage. This warm welcome is coming from the most valued and hardest working member of the team, the office coffee maker. You then get just outside our hallway door when you begin to hear the clanging and banging. It is only when you finally open the door to our glorious and illustrious hallway that you hear the full evidence of the work going on. Your ears are met with the sound of furious typing, of questions and answers being shouted up and down the hallway, and of constant ringing of phones, but they are all but drowned out by the booming voice of Jean Blanchet the Department’s ‘RSM’ keeping us all on task. All this is not just noise it is the sound of our finely tuned 2.5L Dual, 4-cylinder BOXER high-performance engine with turbocharger revving to go as we go about accomplishing the tasks we have taken upon ourselves to support the College and prepare for the 2018-2019 school year. Our work covers a range of activities: supporting RMC summer ops, conducting R&D alongside PSP’s Human Performance Division and our counterparts at CMRSJ, reviewing and amending physical education curriculum for the upcoming academic year, focusing on our own personal and professional development, and a host of other tasks. Now let’s dive a little deeper into what the summer of 2018 has had and still has in store for us in the PE Department.
EX Eagle Quest: ALOY
Over the past several years the Department has supported the ALOY program’s end of year canoe trip. PE teachers Bert Breuvart and Kara Mazerolle volunteer their time to work with and lead the young men and women of the ALOY program in this water adventure. Before setting off on this year’s trip both Kara and Bert taught the ALOY students all about water safety and the fundamentals of canoeing. Once the training was completed, Kara and Bert led the eight day exercise from Smith Falls through the lock systems to Seeley’s Bay and eventually back to RMC. But it was not all canoeing. There is a famous saying by an unknown philosopher that reads: “You can take the gym teacher out of the gym but you can’t take the gym out of the gym teacher”. Wiser words have never been spoken. The pair of PE teachers couldn’t leave RMC empty-handed, grabbing as many kettle bells and sports equipment as possible so that they could continue to teach and to expose the group to our fitness philosophies. Both teachers are sad another year and another adventure came to an end, but with August here there will be a new group of young men and women to work with. Back to the office they have gone to organise for orientation and next semester’s ALOY PE schedule.
Preparing for FYOP
The PE Department has grown this past year adding three new staff members to the mix to completely round out the department. Now fully staffed we will be able to fully support FYOP 2018 in physical training and development of cadets. With this realisation the Department quickly organised itself over the summer making FYOP a priority as we wanted not only to be well prepared for when the First Years arrive but also to give these new cadets the ability to increase their fitness while decreasing chance of injury. The Department has schedules and programs ready and we are eagerly waiting the arrival of the First Years so that we can introduce them to the RMC philosophy of fitness. We will be exposing the new arrivals to the fundamental movements of the resistance-training world: they will begin their journey of mastering the squat, hinge, press, pull and loaded carries. If that isn’t enough we will also be touching on and performing other styles of training like circuit based training, and long runs combined with interval training and swimming. You might think that sounds great but you might think there is a lot of teaching going on without a lot of sweat being produced. Don’t you worry, the PE department believes in reinforcing new-found knowledge through repetition upon repetition upon repetition and so on. The First Years will understand the meaning of “Pain and Gain” by the end of the two weeks of training. Now you are wondering about what happens to the new cadets who arrive injured on medical category? Fear not, we have an injury program ready and waiting which will be focused on rehabilitative and corrective exercises to allow these cadets to recover quickly and return to FYOP PT. It might seem crazy to some but we are all looking forward to the early mornings that allow us to begin our journey as a department in shaping these young men and women into capable physical specimens.
R&D with the Human Performance Division
The summer here at RMC is when we as department don a new uniform, shedding our Lulu Lemon athletic outfits and replacing them with khaki pants, a collared shirt (with the pocket protector firmly in place), a tightly fitting lab coat and thick rimmed glasses. We pride ourselves on always striving to understand and implement the newest and best techniques when it comes to human performance. This summer the Department hosted members from the CMR St. Jean PE Department as well as personnel from PSP’s Human Performance Division. The focus was on identifying new performance indicators that can be used to enhance our curriculum and programming. We also worked with St. Jean to align our programs to allow for an easier transition of those cadets entering into RMC from CMR.
CTC in Gagetown
This year both Craig Palmer and I were privileged to be chosen to accompany the Commandant during his visit to CTC Gagetown. This was a great opportunity for the Department to get a first hand view of our Army cadets’ summer training. We were able to visit all the Army schools in the span of two days where we took part in a multitude of training events ranging from observing a platoon attack, witnessing young artillery officers issue orders, experiencing tank simulators and taking part in lifting a section of bridging with the engineers. We were proud to receive feedback from CTC Staff who have found the fitness of our cadets to be at a very high level. The trip provided great insight for both Craig and me; we came away with a greater understanding of the physical rigors the cadets go through during a summer of training. The trip has also led to follow-on discussions in the PE hallway and plans to create a new PE course focused on combat fitness. Experiences like these are definitely something we hope to continue in the future. The more we immerse ourselves into the cadet way of life the better we feel we are able to support them.
Commando Krav Maga staff certification, Water Safety/National Lifeguard Service Training
Here at RMC we strive to obtain the best qualifications available so that we can better serve the cadets. With three new staff entering the Department we have been busy getting them qualified in both advanced waterborne training and combatives. They started the summer off in the pool for two weeks led by Aquatics Coordinator Bert Breuvart. Through hard work and perseverance all successfully received their Bronze Medallion. While they waited to get back in the pool to complete Bronze Cross and NLS certifications the staff exchanged theirs speedos and wet suits for guns, knives and blunt objects. All have now successfully completed and attained their Commando Krav Maga instructor’s qualification. This course, led by Combatives Coordinator Joel Ridley (a 5th dan taekwondo martial artist, 1st dan hapkido and Level 4 CKM instructor), is comprised of two weeks of pain that must be experienced before our staff can begin to assist in teaching the cadets the fundamentals of CKM. After the intensive two week long course these new instructors are now able to deal with several situations involving unarmed combat, knife attacks and gun attacks. CKM is not your typical combative course. You are taught to avoid conflict and only when necessary to you engage your attacker to inflict as much damage as possible before retreating to safety. These several weeks, although gruelling, were extremely satisfying for the group and prove once again that the learning is never done in the Department. We look forward to our next round of professional development so that we can become subject matter experts on as many fitness styles as possible.
Daily personal and professional development
Last but not least our team has used the free time when not dealing with summer tasking for either professional or personal development. We strive to learn something new every day which we can then incorporate into our teaching.
- Stephane Robert, our fearless leader, was handpicked to attend the PSP leadership course in Cornwall where he was able to network and continue to sharpen his abundant skills in leadership and management.
- Our team continues to learn on a daily basis, reading training material from leading experts like Dan John, Mark Rippetoe and Eric Cressey. We not only read about new techniques but experiment with them in our daily personal fitness training to see if a new approach could be worth adding into our curriculum. It is not uncommon to see the Department staff trying new training styles during the summer months. To mention a few: PE Teacher Tomasz Darren and PE Manager Stephane Robert both worked through some of the Invictus Cross fit program, SPT Coordinator Jackie Clark has incorporated some of Eric Cressey training ideology into her workouts to deal with some long standing injuries and last, I completed professional development where I trained with Jackie on the fundamentals of the various Olympic lifts. As I said this is just some of the training we do. We all strive to make sure we come back after every summer bigger, faster and stronger.
- Jackie Clark continues to improve upon her Crossfit qualifications, completing and successfully challenging the Level 3 course. She also has been accepted into the Crossfit internship program with Crossfit headquarters where she continues to develop her skills as a coach.
- SPT Coordinator Erin Thompson is taking part in Coaching at a local soccer camp to continue developing her skills for when she teaches the Soccer PE class in the Fall semester.
- The four SPT coordinators held several PD sessions and meetings over the summer to create a unified action plan for the coming year. The team is gelling nicely together and have made good use of the summer bonding as a team teaching one another developing each other’s skills. Now all we need are the cadets to return because we are all itching to get those 0600 sessions going.
- In order to keep our combative skills honed in, many of our team have been training heavily in combatives with special attention in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The group tries to practice one hour 4 to 5 days a week, trapping each other in chokeholds, arm bars and heel hook. This sounds painful, and it is, but the group find it strangely enjoyable and are always eager to answer the bell when the next training session begins.
- In the remaining time this summer many of our staff continue their education and to obtain certifications in CSCS(Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), FMS(Functional movement systems), First aid instructors and similar qualifications.
- Lastly several member work closely with varsity and competitive teams throughout the year. The athletes may disappear during the summer months but that does not stop our staff preparing for the season to come. Tomasz looks to prepare the Sandhurst team to improve upon their 2nd place finish from last year. Kara works her magic with both the women’s Volleyball team and men’s Rugby team performing FMS screening with several of the athletes before they leave for the summer. Kara and I also tackle developing and leading the strength and conditioning program for the RMC Rugby teams training camp. Lastly Joel Ridley spends a portion of his summer months sharpening his deadly skills while planning and organising the Taekwondo team for its coming season.
As you can see our work never stops. In one way or another the PE Department is always working to create and adapt a better PE product so that the cadets receive the best possible training. Now enough talking about how hard we work: I must leave you and put words to action as there’s only a few days left before the Red surge returns to the gym.