In this new series, I will be reaching out to coaches all over the country to see what it takes to go from having an idea for your facility design to making that idea a reality. Spanning full designs from scratch to larger remodels, we will cover facilities from all over the profession: colleges, high schools, private, tactical, and even home gyms.
All facility designs come with questions and decisions to be made, such as:
- How big can or will the space be?
- What type of equipment do I need to purchase?
- Which brands, purveyors, and manufacturers should I choose?
I want to highlight how to answer those questions and many more during the design process. First, join me in looking at how and why those decisions were made at Urbandale High School in Urbandale, Iowa.
Facility Finders reached out to Urbandale Director of Strength and Conditioning, Pete Traynor, because his space is rare—especially at the high school level. I also wanted to spotlight the unique relationship his facility shares with the school board, which was consulted before the hiring of Coach Traynor to have the facility constructed in a way that would serve the needs of both the strength and conditioning department and the greater community.
Video 1. An inside look at the Urbandale High School performance facility.
Among the most time-consuming tasks of designing a new facility is figuring out how to pay for everything. For Coach Traynor, that was made possible by a school district-wide building/remodeling plan that included their weight room at Urbandale H.S. and updates across the districts, which also encompassed building two new elementary schools. Once the school board decided on the budget and what the project entailed, Coach Traynor needed to prioritize his needs. He determined the top three considerations were:
- Quality of equipment
- Branding capabilities
“We know that this is a once-in-a-25-plus-years type of project, so we had to ensure that the equipment we purchased was of the highest quality,” said Traynor.Among the most time-consuming tasks of designing a new facility is figuring out how to pay for everything, says @johndelf99. Click To Tweet
Because this is a community project, customized district branding—for example, the high school’s logos—was used to help separate the spaces to be utilized mainly by the public, like the studio connected to the facility, and keep people out of the high school weight room. At Urbandale, Coach Traynor works with more than 75 athletes at a time, which requires space to flow properly and efficiently.
Some of the specialty equipment that Traynor uses daily with his athletes are the belt squat station from Dynamic Fitness & Strength and flywheels from Exxentric. He believes both are useful pieces of equipment for intro-level athletes learning how to move.
“Having another joint-friendly option that works all three types of muscle contractions helps us in multiple areas of our programming,” Coach Traynor says about their two Exxentric kBoxes.
The belt squat is a piece of equipment that allows any athletes with upper-body injuries to still be able to squat. It is also a safe tool for beginner athletes. Some exercises that use both the kBox and the belt squat are eccentric-focused squats, RDLs, bent-over rows, and biceps/upper back work.
Take a Look Around
The biggest piece of advice Traynor offered for coaches undertaking a design project or remodel was to tour other facilities and meet with coaches who have been in your shoes—they can tell you about all the mistakes they wish they’d never made! Urbandale High School ended up purchasing from Dynamic Fitness & Strength, which Coach Traynor never even knew existed (shoutout to Coach Joe “Big House Power” Kenn).Coaches undertaking a design project or remodel should tour other facilities and meet with coaches who have been in their shoes. Click To Tweet
This company is based out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Traynor mentioned that the quality of equipment and their ability to customize the space ultimately led to Dynamic winning the job over their competitors. When all was said and done, Coach Traynor visited 39 separate facilities before his facility was finished, and if it wasn’t for all of those facilities, he never would’ve heard about Dynamic Fitness & Strength.
“Visiting so many different weight rooms allowed me to truly get an idea of how we were going to train our students here at Urbandale,” Traynor said when asked about his key takeaways from those tours. “Being able to see how other coaches were utilizing their space, along with different methods being used, allowed me to zero in on what methods we would be able to utilize at Urbandale to train the most efficiently and keep our students engaged. The flow of the room, safety, efficiency, and student-athlete engagement and participation were some key factors in how we wanted to design our room.”
A Dream in the Making
This endeavor with SimpliFaster is something that has been a dream of mine for a while, and now that I am involved in a capital project at my school designing a facility, this series is a way for me to learn alongside our readers. This dream stems from working alongside SimpliFaster, which provides the best information for coaches by coaches—and while I do this firsthand, I can learn from and educate other coaches at the same time. I also want to make a positive contribution to the profession and that means going out and meeting new coaches to see how their personal training style can be matched with an incredible facility.
Right now, I am meeting with companies and suppliers—quality of equipment is the top priority—while I also establish the new construction and budget for the project. I have used software called SketchUp to roughly design my plans to help the “non-athletic department” people see the vision and the need for this space.
Please comment below with other questions y’all would like answered or facilities you’d like to know more about in our future episodes.
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