Indoor cycling classes in Afghanistan

YMCAfit Indoor Cycling course in RAF base

As regular Club members a lot of you probably take part in our popular indoor cycling classes, but have you ever imagined taking part in a cycling class on an active military base in Afghanistan, under the watchful eye of a RAF physical training instructor? And where the health and safety considerations included ‘Action to take on incoming rocket attack’ or ‘Coming under enemy fire’? Well, this is exactly what happen when YMCAfit (the fitness training arm of the Central YMCA charity) provided probably the first fitness training course to be delivered to military personnel on a forward operating base.

Hi, my name is Calum MacIntyre and I am a Warrant Officer in the Royal Air Force working full time as a RAF Medic and in my free time as a YMCAfit Tutor. I am currently deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Working out here can be physically and mentally challenging due to austere weather and living conditions; it is every military person’s duty to remain fit for operations and we are lucky to have a fully equipped gym to workout in during our down time which includes a Indoor Cycling studio.

The RAF Physical Training Instructor (PTI) Sergeant Mark ‘Rooners’ Rooney provides a whole array of fitness classes most evenings and early mornings including Indoor Cycling, but even he cannot be everywhere at once! He was also keen on utilising the Cycling studio on a more regular basis, which would also cater for more personnel being able to take part in classes around their unique work patterns.

He approached me to ask whether between us we could set up training to allow interested personnel to provide classes for their own sections; I said: "Why not arrange a fully certified course where they will receive a recognised qualification that they can use not only here but also when returning to their units in the UK and Germany?"

So after getting the support of YMCAfit we advertised a course that was spread over several evenings to find around everyone’s primary work commitments. In the end we had 16 eager to learn students, from a variety of Army units and the RAF, attend the teaching sessions and fully immersed themselves in the training package.

With a thirst for knowledge they soaked up all the theory putting it all into practice to develop into keen and confident indoor cycling instructors. So after what I believe to be the first Indoor Cycling instructor course to be held at this base, if not in the whole of Afghanistan, we have 16 new instructors, keen to make their mark and help their friends and families progress and maintain their fitness.

Keep an eye out, as on return to the UK and Germany, they may just be instructing your class.

About the Author

Calum MacIntyre is a Warrant Officer in the Royal Air Force working full time as a RAF Medic and a YMCAfit Tutor in his spare time. 


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ymca | 4 March 2016