In the 1977 hit documentary Pumping Iron, Arnold Schwarzenegger screams in pain as he attempts to pump out just one more incline bench press with hundreds of pounds hovering perilously above his neck. The all-out pursuit of perfect aesthetics is his only goal.
Fast forward to 2018, when Head Wesleyan Strength & Conditioning Coach Dustin Wolf describes Wesleyan’s strength and conditioning program as “designed around developing functional movement, learning basic movement patterns of squatting, hinging, and pressing that can be applied to all areas of life and athletics.”
Instead of a select few attempting to obtain a perfect physique, strength and conditioning is now a pursuit for the average person looking to improve their lives. Senior Leandro Haddad came in early before school to work out in order to gain a P.E. credit and unexpectedly gained a valuable experience. Haddad said, “Workouts really helped me to wake up before school, and it also definitely helped me make some gains. I really liked the bench press. That definitely was my favorite part separate from hanging out with Matt Free every time.”
Wesleyan offers many strength and conditioning courses, with the goal of “giving students the opportunity to learn basic performance training methodologies and terminology. Students will evaluate proper functional movement patterns, identify movement dysfunctions and asymmetries and learn corrective exercises to improve movement quality and safety. Students should expect to develop an increase in neuromuscular control, general physical conditioning, strength and power during the semester,” according to the Wesleyan website class description.
Junior Tabitha Conrad said, “The class helped me to be more productive and stress-free because I really feel that each workout served as an outlet for any of the anger or stress that I was feeling that day.”
Wolf said one new development in strength and conditioning that has really benefited him is the “National High School Strength Association: an outlet for communicating, asking advice and being a support system for each other.” This association has allowed Wolf and other trainers across the country to collaborate on workouts as well as discuss new developments in the field of sports medicine.
His favorite part of the job is “being able to spend time with students and develop character. I get most joy seeing you guys succeed on the field knowing hard work in the gym helps that.” That relationship is reciprocated from his students, as Conrad said, “I think that because my class was such a unique group of athletes, our bond with Coach Wolf was great. He knew how hard each one of us could be pushed but also knew when to let us relax or take trips to see his daughter, Parker.”
However, Wolf does admit his best part of his week is from 10:15-11:05 a.m. on Fridays. Bars and weights are replaced with tables and paddles as the “exclusive password protected” ping-pong club rolls in. With topspin serves flying and forehand smashes filling up the room, he disclosed that “ping-pong club is the best.”