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“I am much fitter now than when I joined”

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If the gym is not enough, joining the Royal Navy Reserves could soon up your fitness levels, as the latest in our series of insider accounts reveals.

Stefan Johnson, Mine Warfare Specialist

“I am much fitter now than when I joined. I used to struggle with running and completed my annual fitness test 2.4k run in 11.5 minutes. Ten years later and I run 2.4k in 10 minutes, and I regularly run 10k in 50 minutes,” says Johnson, a Portsmouth-born director with a finance firm who found his fitness drastically improved once he signed up to the Royal Navy Reserves. “My increased fitness was helped by running around the wilds of Scotland in body armour, webbing and an SA80, jumping in and out of ditches.

“My civilian job is fairly tame – I sit at a desk in front of a computer, and the only exercise is walking to the coffee machine or the odd taxi to attend a customer meeting. Then, come the weekend, I am either dashing for a train or a plane, ready for the adventure to begin.”

And for Johnson, that adventure includes protecting warships from mines. He says: “I am a mine warfare specialist, serving as part of the Mine Warfare Branch. Our primary role is making the seas safer for Royal Navy and civilian ships. We are trained to locate mines and destroy them using the latest technology. Not only are mines a threat to our warships during times of war, but they are a big threat during peacetime activities, such as when ships are charged with delivering humanitarian aid.”

Of his time with the RNR, Johnson adds: “I have certainly become more confident and worldly. You have to be when you are sharing living quarters on a ship with 38 other people in a space smaller than your lounge at home.

“I am a lot more adventurous and sporty than previously. I’ve sailed a 50ft yacht over the Bay Of Biscay in gale-force wind, skied and done mountain climbing as well as numerous endurance walks/runs.

“I have certainly had to dig deep and man-up to keep going on many occasions – all of which has made me a better person.”

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Give your work life a welcome boost

Gain qualifications with the Royal Navy Reserves

If the Royal Navy Reserves sounds like it could be for you, now is your chance to sign up.

Some men have used it as a stepping stone to get into the Navy full-time, but many continue their day job. In some instances, it can even help you get a better job, given there are qualifications to be picked up.

Stefan Johnson says: “There are opportunities to gain civilian qualifications, which is always good for the CV, from first-aid courses to leadership and management qualifications – I gained the latter from my leadership course. It’s so rewarding when you’ve finished and received your certificate or qualification for passing the course.”

But while your day job might stay the same, it’s safe to say your life won’t. Johnson adds: “I never thought when I first joined that I would go from wearing a shirt and tie in the comfort of my office to being on a firing range and laying on the ground in the wind and rain in order to try to improve my shooting.”

royalnavy.mod.uk/navyreserves; 08456-003222

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