New gym strengthens airborne soldiers’ fitness facilities

A new gym will help Colchester’s soldiers keep fighting fit and ready for operations as the British Army’s Global Response Force.

The Pegasus Gym was opened on Merville Barracks by Brigadier Nick Cowley, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team. With space for 150 soldiers to train together, it boasts weightlifting equipment, functional rigs for heaves, and tracks for sled training. The gym, built in a repurposed warehouse, has the equipment needed to conduct Soldier Conditioning Reviews, which provide a benchmark of an individual’s strength, power and cardiovascular fitness. 

It joins the barracks’ extensive fitness and sports facilities, which include the Corporal Budd Gymnasium, which features a sports hall, boxing ring and a 25m pool; the Normandy Gym, designed for strength and conditioning training; and the B ground running track and all-weather pitches.

Brig Cowley said:

“Fitness is key to being ready for operations and, as the Army’s very high readiness formation, our soldiers need to be very fit." Brigadier Nick Cowley

“Fitness is key to being ready for operations and, as the Army’s very high readiness formation, our soldiers need to be very fit.

“A key element in how we structure all of our training is ‘the Falklands test’. It was a brutal, physical campaign and while we do not expect to fight the same battle, today’s soldiers need to have the same physical and mental robustness as those who served in 1982.  

“We want our soldiers to have the best facilities to prepare themselves to be able to face ‘the Falklands test’, and the Pegasus Gym is another element to that.”

Physical Training Instructors from 16 Air Asslt BCT’s units were put through their paces to test out the new gym’s equipment.
Staff Sergeant Nick Curtis RAPTC, who oversees fitness and sport for 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, said:

“How we approach soldiers’ physical training is focused on building their battlefield fitness, and our facilities are designed to deliver that." Staff Sergeant Nick Curtis RAPTC

“How we approach soldiers’ physical training is focused on building their battlefield fitness, and our facilities are designed to deliver that.

“Airborne operations are particularly physically demanding when you look at factors such as the impact of landing when parachuting and the equipment soldiers must carry to sustain themselves and fight. A soldier who has not been properly prepared for those demands is more likely to injure themselves, reducing a unit’s operational effectiveness.”