Three decades ensuring sailors are ship-shape

12 February 2024

She’s the physical training instructor charged with ensuring the next generation of naval officers are fighting fit.  

When officer cadets arrive at HMAS Creswell, it's Petty Officer Jan Gilmour who puts them through their paces, ensuring they meet the peak physical benchmarks required to serve in the ADF.

It’s an area where Petty Officer Gilmour, who recently celebrated 30 years in the service, has excelled.

It was a journey that originally began in 1983, as an opportunity to travel and be a part of a great work family and culture.

“I had family members who served in both the Army and the Navy, but this service was the obvious choice for me when it came to work-life balance,” Petty Officer Gilmour said.

“Personal training was an area I was interested in, and I had the natural talent. I knew I would enjoy the role and it has given me a great sense of purpose.”

While the role itself interested Petty Officer Gilmour, it was the years that followed that steered her to a long-term commitment.

'I really can’t fault the support I received throughout that time in my life, as I was able to have the flexibility that worked for my family.'

“With four children, I found myself widowed – which no one expects to happen to them. It was a real juggling act but the Navy supported me however I needed,” she said.

“After marrying my second husband, I had two more children, and once they were in school I needed to step into part-time work for a while.

“I really can’t fault the support I received throughout that time in my life, as I was able to have the flexibility that worked for my family.”

Now, as an over 60-year-old, Petty Officer Gilmour prioritises her health more than ever.

“I stay fit by doing the things I enjoy and doing them every day,” she said.

“I might start the day with mobility and breath work, and whatever I do in the middle of the day is dependent on how I feel. At the end of the day, I’ll finish off with more mobility and breath work – it’s all about listening to your body.”

After 30 years in the Navy, Petty Officer Gilmour has some words of wisdom to share with future recruits.

“My advice to others is to remember to be yourself. It’s so much easier to navigate life if you embrace your strengths and trust in your own capacity,” she said.

“You cannot do this job on your own. Even if you’re in a solo billet, you need to network.

“You won’t know everything at every given time, so reach out. The PT branch is small, but they will be there for you like your real family. That goes for any role in the Navy.”

When Petty Officer Gilmour is not working with others on their fitness, she can be found enjoying the peaceful surrounds of the outdoors. 

“I like to spend time in nature. If I can go out and explore the wilderness on my own, I’ll choose that,” she said.



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