Skip to main content

PTI training heats up in the Middle East

Royal New Zealand Air Force Physical Training Instructor, Corporal Trent Norman has recently returned from a unique opportunity, deployed on operation in the Middle East.

20 September, 2023

He says exercising in the extreme heat in the region was no easy task.

“The midday temperatures reached 45C-50C. A lot of classes I ran were either early in the morning, around 6am or later in the evening, from around 5pm,” he said.

“The temperatures at those times were still sitting around minimum of 25°C overnight and as soon as the sun came up, they would start creeping up to 30°C.”

Corporal (CPL) Norman was deployed to an operational base in the region for three months where he ran training classes, sports tournaments, rehabilitation for Kiwi personnel, and facilitated adventurous activities.

Partners in the region, who had previously supplied physical training instructors, had reduced numbers to the airbase recently, with Aotearoa New Zealand asked to provide someone from the trade to fill the gap.

CPL Norman (right) in baseball cap, t-shirt and shorts smiles at the camera with another person on base. They are both pulling a 'thumbs up' in front of a large sculpture of a kiwi. Four personnel, in camouflage military uniform have their arms around one another as they smile at the camera in front of a New Zealand flag and a large sculpture of a kiwi. CPL Norman takes a knee in front of a large group of personnel on a sandy volleyball court on base in the Middle East.

Corporal Trent Norman (in red t-shirt) with other personnel while deployed on base in the Middle East.

The base CPL Norman was deployed to was also home to coalition forces from Australia and the United Kingdom. He provided physical training to all the deployed forces there and found he needed to schedule his work around personnel workloads as well as the weather.

“During the day personnel were not usually available because they were doing their jobs, plus the midday temperatures were high - a lot of them don’t have vehicles to get where they needed to be, so a lot of them walked.

“It wasn’t ideal for people to be walking from work to get changed into their physical training kit to make their way to the gym, get smashed for 45 minutes or so by me, get back and go and get changed and go back to your shift,” he said.

Even after personnel had been through their acclimatisation training, factors such as dehydration still had to be managed for the safety of personnel. To mitigate this, physical training would mostly take place in an air-conditioned environment.

“When we did go outside for short runs or something, I would raise the big safety point of making sure everyone had water on hand or electrolyte sachets they could take throughout,” he said.

While the extreme heat provided challenges for CPL Norman, arriving home to a chilly Manawatū winter was no walk in the park either.

“I got sick with a bad cold within the first week of being home. I hadn’t been sick the whole time away.”