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The Importance of Facility Design

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Designing a new strength and conditioning facility entails many factors, but it all boils down to knowing your needs and working with others.

In years past, most people viewed the weightroom as being primarily for the school’s football team. But today’s strength and conditioning facilities have grown into essential components for training male and female athletes from all teams as well as for recruiting new student-athletes. As a result, athletic programs around the country—from major NCAA Division I-A universities to small colleges and high schools—are allocating more and more resources toward their strength and conditioning facilities.

With the increased use and visibility of weightrooms, having the proper design has never been more important. From layout to equipment, even a top-of-the-line facility from 10 or 15 years ago probably won’t work well today, with the larger and more diverse groups of athletes we now have to train.

In 12 years as a head strength and conditioning coach, I have designed and been involved with upgrading seven training facilities. During my 10 years at the University of North Dakota, I designed the layout and selected the equipment for four weight-rooms totaling 25,000 square feet, the largest a 10,000 square-foot state-of-the-art ice hockey weightroom housed in the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The circumstances surrounding the planning and design of the Engelstad Arena were exceptional. Due to an incredible $100 million gift from the late Ralph Engelstad, there were virtually no budget or space restrictions for the Arena or the weightroom. Along with a great arena, Mr. Engelstad and the university wanted to build the largest and

most well-equipped hockey training facility in the world.

During the design process, I met with the arena engineers and outlined the dimensions needed. At completion, $300,000 was spent on equipment, including 10 Power-Lift half-rack combo stations with platforms, 24 Hammer Strength pieces, 24 cardio machines, 20 other various machines, and a 1,000 square-foot hardwood warm-up area. When the facility opened in the fall of 2001, the arena and the hockey weightroom were truly state-of-the-art facilities.

Paul Chapman, MS, SCCC, USAW-Level I, is the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of New Hampshire. He also spent 10 years as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of North Dakota.

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