The military profession involves a lot of physical and mental strain for the successful implementation of its role of defending the nation. The importance of physical education was much regarded after the First World War and at the break-out of the Second World War, the physical fitness of soldiers was given more attention to enable them fight even after prolonged exhaustions. Thus daily physical fitness exercises were introduced to make fit, keep fit and re-fit.
In Nigeria, the need to give sound physical and mental fitness to the Boys of the Nigerian Military School, Cadets and Recruits led to the establishment of the School of Army Physical Training in Sierra Leone in 1941 under the command of Maj Willer with QM SI Page (Snr) as his assistant. The breakout of the Second World War brought about the creation of more training Depots.
The first Training Depot in Nigeria was located at Ibadan in 1941. In 1942, part of physical education school was moved from Sierra Leone to Kaduna under the command of QM SI Page (Snr). In 1943, Ibadan and Kaduna were merged together, later to be moved to Ghana in 1945.
The Physical Training School returned to Nigeria in 1954 and was located at Obalende (Lagos Garrison Command). Senior Staff Instructor (SSI) Wing was in charge of Physical Training Office at the Army Headquarters. The Physical Training School became permanent in Lagos in 1961 when Nigeria Army Physical Training Corps was set up. From 1967 – 1969, the Headquarter was moved to Abatti Barracks, Lagos. The Physical Training School was later moved from Lagos to Zaria in 1972 with SSI Shepard as the Commandant.
Since then, the School has undergone several re-designations and has been successively commanded by not less than 28 Commandants till date. In Zaria today, the Army School of Physical Training (ASPT) is headed by Brig Gen AOI Kalejaiye as Commandant, under the Directorate of Army Physical Training (DAPT) headed by Brig Gen UO Olatoye as Director.
Amongst other things, the School today provides physical training programmes which involve morning physical training (a purely military fitness training which prepares soldiers for battle-readiness) and evening games consisting of athletics, racquet games, ball games, combat sports, swimming and gymnastics. Bush exercises and range classification also comes up once a year.