Welcome back to another installment of Facility Finders, where I find the newest weight room remodels or projects from across the country, spanning all sectors of strength and conditioning. This process isn’t taught to any coach in school, and it is a once-in-a-career type of activity for many of us.
All facility designs need questions to be asked and decisions to be made, such as:
- How big can or will the space be?
- What type of equipment needs to be purchased?
- Which brands, purveyors, and manufacturers should be chosen?
I want to highlight how to answer those questions, and many more, during the design process. First, we will examine how and why those decisions were made at Trinity College.
Facility Finders reached out to Coach Bill DeLongis, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, who recently remodeled his weight room. Most coaches find themselves involved in renovating an existing facility because it is rare that the budgets at most schools allow for a brand-new building where the coach gets to design every square foot. This type of redesign is common at Division III schools like Trinity College, and DeLongis was able to upgrade the facility to a space that better fits his coaching philosophy.
Video 1. A virtual tour of the facility at Trinity College, remodeled under the direction of Coach Bill DeLongis.
In 2017, Coach DeLongis was asked to design a complete renovation of Trinity’s varsity weight room. After a year of meeting with equipment companies and choosing everything that he wanted, he saw his hard work pay off in 2018. His three main concerns for this project were:
- Quality of equipment.
- Flow of the room.
- Cost (via versatility/reliability).
“We run a lot of small group sessions with various teams sharing the room, so I needed sections in the room to create a better flow for when the room is crowded,” said Coach DeLongis, discussing how he needed the room to flow.
Trinity has a utility space that athletes use for warming up and medball work. It also serves as an auxiliary training space for larger groups.
“We sometimes put out squat stands on the outdoor turf to use if we need,” DeLongis said, mentioning a key small school hack to grow their square footage when needed.
It is multi-use spaces close to one another that enable schools like Trinity to train all of their 28 sports in a facility the size of theirs. Turf space in the front and back of the weight room gives coaches a place to have a team warming up or finishing while another team is in the weight room training. That ability—along with staffing—allows smaller weight rooms to function with a constant flow of teams and groups.It is multi-uses spaces close to one another that enable schools like Trinity to train all of their 28 sports in a facility the size of theirs, says @johndelf99. Click To Tweet
When deciding on the company they wanted to bring in to source their facility’s needs, Trinity chose South Carolina-based Sorinex. Why Sorinex?
“Sorinex is the industry-leading equipment company our country has to offer for our athletes. They are the best,” DeLongis said. “Our budget for this project was not massive, so a lot of the bells and whistles as far as attachments were something we would shoot to add over time. That ability to have a base rack from Sorinex that we can add on to slowly was the piece that schools like Trinity need.”
Similarly, many schools do not have the huge budget to pay for everything in one fell swoop, and new attachments are created after facilities are remodeled. The fact that Sorinex designs its products to essentially “plug and play” is an essential aspect of their versatility. As things evolve and change within the industry, the ability to add pieces that the athletes need—and remove the pieces that no longer serve their purpose—is something you don’t get with a fixed machine or specialty equipment.
Think about this: Jammer arms were a must-have for “explosive” training, then coaches realized how much better they were as liftoff releases. That versatility gives longevity to those add-ons, and I think Jammer arms would be obsolete now without that multi-use functionality.
Reliable quality was the last factor that Coach DeLongis praised, explaining that they were replacing old Sorinex equipment from the early 2000s with new Sorinex equipment.
“Being at a D-III school, there is no telling when the next renovation will be—so I didn’t want to skimp on the racks,” DeLongis said, a statement that should resonate with a lot of coaches undergoing similar projects around the country.
DeLongis also went to numerous other college weight rooms on site visits to learn from their coaches and see their spaces. These visits gave him ideas and helped him solidify his decision to source from Sorinex. He specifically remembered that Sorinex representatives brought him to their headquarters in South Carolina, where he was able to design the space with their sales teams and put his hands on and try their products. These companies specializing in customization want to make your space as efficient as possible.These companies specializing in customization want to make your space as efficient as possible, says @johndelf99. Click To Tweet
I think about how coaches have always complained about pillars or poles being in the middle of the room and how it wasted square footage. Now these companies design storage that wraps around those poles and pillars, so there is no more wasted space. They are geniuses who lean on their expertise and the input and philosophies of the coaches who are their clients.
“Feeling like a valued customer was the icing on the cake,” Coach DeLongis added.
We all love specialty equipment, and at Trinity College, they are no exception. Trinity utilizes technology like the RepOne Velocity Based Training Encoder (tether) and B Strong Blood Flow Restriction Kits for hypertrophy training and athletes recovering from injuries. Other pieces of specialty equipment they use in programming are cable stacks with low row stations, weight releasers for eccentric work, jammer arms, overcoming isometric boards, and triphasic hooks for plyometrics.
Additionally, they break out some “strongman”-type equipment: atlas stones, sandbags, yoke, logs, and farmer’s handles to help with general physical preparation work.
“Having the strongman equipment is something that our athletes do within training or on off days to help with cardio and general strength building,” DeLongis replied when I asked how they were able to use it enough to justify the purchase cost. “These pieces of equipment are used almost every day by almost all of our sports.”
Lastly, some recovery modalities they use outside of the training room include foam rollers and body tempering rollers.
Video 2. The importance of a balanced strength coach refrigerator and the need for coaches to stay fueled between sessions.
Stay in Touch
Thank you again for reading this Facility Finders installment featuring Trinity College. Remodeling a facility is something that a lot of coaches will have the ability to do at some point in their careers, and I hope the remodel at Trinity can help you in your next project. As always, feel free to comment below on things you would like to see next or something you have questions on!
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