One High School’s Return To The Weight Room
As high schools look to reopen in different capacities over the summer, one significant question mark remains: How can you safely and effectively operate a weight room with new restrictions in place?
Each state and school will follow its specific protocol, but together we can work to identify best practices.
Let’s take a look at Saint Paul Public Schools in Nebraska, who has been able to get back into the weight room over the last few weeks.
Groups and Schedule
With 118 athletes looking to train over the summer, coach and teacher, Rusty Fuller knew he needed to set a clear schedule and expectations for his students.
Coach Fuller set up 5 training sessions throughout the morning that were capped at 24 athletes per group. Students were assigned a group that they were expected to stick to for the remainder of the summer.
Athletes were then assigned a lifting partner within their designated group. Partners were strategically based on average weights lifted so that it reduced the number of weights athletes need to use and touch once at their station in the weight room.
All athletes have to complete a daily temperature check before entering the building. Either Coach Fuller has another coach there to assist, or athletes are instructed to wait outside and 6 feet apart before Coach Fuller can administer the temperature checks.
After entering the building, all athletes, still 6 feet apart, must wash hands with soap and water, as well as use hand sanitizer.
Upon finishing their lift, athletes leave from a different door, to allow the next group to come in without causing a traffic jam.
As for the weight lifting itself, Fuller has limited the equipment used to only bars, power racks, and benches. No dumbbells are used, so it is easier to maintain the overall cleanliness.
Throughout the last few weeks, athletes were not allowed to switch up which power racks and benches they used, to keep things consistent and controlled.
After finishing each lift, all bars, benches, and weights are wiped down with disinfectant and spray. Each group is responsible for a thorough cleaning before finishing up their lift.
To put one final stamp on cleanliness, the entire weight room is ‘bombed’ with disinfectant spray bombs at the end of each day.
Considering all of the challenges, the first few weeks went really well for Saint Paul and it’s athletes.
Attendance over the last 4 weeks for the program has been tremendous:
- Week 1: 92%
- Week 2: 91%
- Week 3: 83%
- Week 4: 90%
Along with a great turnout, the temperature checks have come up with no fevers over the last 4 weeks.
Coach Fuller knows that this is just the beginning, but a promising start for his athletes showing up consistently, working hard, and following the safety measures in place.
As more schools look into the viability of safely opening the weight room, Fuller and Saint Paul show that given the appropriate safety precautions, it is possible to operate within the weight room even if it does look a little different.