ST. ALBANS TOWN — A week ago, the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center lifting room reopened with four new sets of Olympic-sized lifting equipment, including a new set of dumbbells and three heavy-duty lifting machines built for superior training and ultimate safety.
“The idea behind getting these stations was to have more multifunction stations and have a better opportunity to work with small groups,” said Collins Perley Head Trainer Adam Parent.
A group of those athletes happens to be those of Bellows Free Academy, who regularly use the space for high school sports training year-round.
“It’ll be a great opportunity for everybody,” said BFA Athletic Director Dan Marlow. “It really eliminates the issue of not knowing what to do and keeping track of the workout and exactly what the kids are doing and the way they’re spending their time in the weight room. We want to make sure we take care of them, so we’re looking forward to that new equipment.”
Marlow said the new weight room will be especially useful once October rolls around, and athletes have access to a new app which will help them plan their workouts during pre-season, in-season and postseason so no matter the sport, athletes will find themselves in a training room.
“It’ll be like having their own fitness instructor for each sport,” Marlow said. “There will be no excuse for them not to keep themselves in shape. Most kids have a phone and they’re very comfortable using the phone, so it should be very easy for them to do.”
With the new equipment, a small group of three to five people training could take up two of the new stations at the weight room and the gym would still have regular operating equipment available for other use.
If needed, the Complex now has the ability to also host larger groups of athletes and shut down their facilities for use by 30 to 50 athletes with three to five athletes at each station, Parent said.
The new half-racks on the weight stations feature a set of safety arms which catch the bar if the weight proves to be too much to lift back up to its place on the rack, and combines a platform area, a bench, a “j” bar, sets of color-coded weights for the bar and kettlebells at different weights.
“We used to only have one platform area where people could do things from the ground like deadlifts and Olympic weightlifting,” Parent said. “This way we have buffer weights so we can be protected in our environment and have less damage to the floor. A lot of Olympic weightlifting has a lot of dropping of weights onto the floor.”
A lot of the technique and strength used by athletes involves using weights to improve power ratios of different muscle groups, so the new equipment purchased was done so with the intention of a wide variety of athletic uses, Parent said.
“It’s a lot of (physical) velocity that we’re trying to build with this equipment,” Parent said. “The idea behind redesigning was ‘how can we work with both large and small groups and do what we were doing but do it better? So because we had one multi-function station and one platform adjacent from each other, we wanted to try to tie in the efficiency of using our space.”
Marlow said BFA is planning on updating their weight room too. It will not only produce a stronger crop of athletes, but will help combat the mental health issues facing many teenaged people during the age of COVID.
“This is taking care of your body and your mind as well,” Marlow said. “You look at what we’ve just gone through over the past 15 months. The biggest issue for kids right now is the danger of mental health. If they take care of their mind and their body and take care of themselves, they’ll continue to exercise. Weight lifting, cardio, stretching and cooling down property, it becomes a lifelong activity. It’s something you can do on your own to manage your own fitness and your own lifestyle.”
BFA Principal Brett Blanchard agreed, and said the high-level facility was exactly what the Bobwhites and the Comets needed to compete in a highly competitive sports atmosphere while learning how to optimize their mind outside of their studies.
“The worldwide data on COVID-19 and its consequences has pointed to the importance of maintaining health in order to increase your chances of recovery. The data regarding academic improvement is also unequivocally connected with student movement and well-being.”