I recently had the opportunity to interview Rob Schwartz, a Team USA Strength and Conditioning Coach for Acrobat & Combat Sports. Rob now works with Olympic athletes who compete in gymnastics, boxing, Tae Woon, judo, fencing, wrestling, synchronized swimming and diving. I wanted to pick his brain and gain some insight into how sports fitness technologies (heart rate, calorie intake, calories burned, sleep monitoring, distance and time tracking, VO2 recording, full vertical gained, etc.) are used in Olympic Athlete training.and how Mr. Schwartz looks forward to consumer adoption of similar technologies in the future.
I live in Denver and I have previously toured the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, I remember the amount of gadgets and devices monitor and track the progression of athlete in training. Can you explain the type of fitness technologies that your athlete uses now and how big a role they play in your daily workout preparation?
A. For daily training activities we mostly use video feedback, both in the weightroom and the practicing setting. In strength and conditioning, we always try to measure our athlete’s readiness, so we measure power outputs with tendo units and force plates; This gives us feedback on how intensely we can train each athlete on a given day. At pre-determined times of the year, the sports dietitian tests athletes blood lactate levels during “live” practices to evaluate the physiological demands that they face in competition. We even had some wrestlers’ tested their blood lactate immediately after actual matches. We are now developing an app for athlete phones to monitor the nutritional, psychological, training and recovery status. This is a short list; We also have many other modes of technology.
K. It seems as if Olympians have used technology in their training programs long before the recent consumer craze, would you say that many of today’s fitness gadgets are a result of what has been tested and proven in the Olympic arena?
A. Not that I know that when training world class athlete for Olympic competition, we simply do not have the time to test technology that have not been tested and proven in the field. We will get some emerging technology from companies such as Nike and Samsung, but they are sure when they hit our desk, they are proven effective.
Q. Do you believe emerging applications and gadgets for fitness and health will improve the health outcomes of our nation and help citizens to be more informed and active participants in their personal health?
A. I hope so; Mainly depends on the person and their goals. If the consumer is serious about getting a mold, I suggest they do their research and ensure that they are purchasing equipment from reputable companies that are proven in the market.
K. One last question, any essential tips for those who want to take a personal strength and conditioning training?
A. I would start with your local 24 hour fitness and getting some personal training sessions. There is nothing better than an experienced trainer to provide feedback and steps for improvement. It is not suggested to surf the internet for training tips or advice because there is no professional feedback and the information you receive may not be credible or suitable for your personal purposes.
I also believe in video feedback for athletes, as with a current world champion boxer that I train when the fight is over the first thing we do in our flat home is review video on our smartphone and prepare for the next fight.
To learn more about the United States Olympic Training Center or to plan a trip, visit them at TeamUSA.org and possibly rub elbows with America’s premier Olympic athletes and coaches.