Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Rob Schwartz, the coach of the U.S. team in strength and physical training at Acrobat and Combat Sports. Rob currently works with Olympic athletes in gymnastics, boxing, taekwondo, judo, fencing, wrestling, synchronized swimming and diving. I wanted to pick his brain and get an overview of how sports fitness technologies (heart rate, calorie intake, calories burned, sleep monitoring, distance and time tracking, VO2 tracking, overall vertical growth, etc.) are used in workouts. Olympic athletes and as Mr. Schwartz expects consumers to adopt similar technologies in the future.
I live in Denver and have been to the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center before. I remember the number of gadgets and devices that track and monitor the progress of athletes during training. Can you explain what fitness technology your athletes are currently using and what role they play in your daily training?
A. For daily workouts, we usually use video commentary both in the gym and during exercise. In the “Strength and Physical Form” section, we always try to measure our athlete’s fitness, so we measure power output with Tendo units and power plates; it gives us feedback on how hard we can train each athlete every day. At a predetermined time of year, a sports nutritionist checks the level of lactate in the blood of athletes during “live” training to assess the physiological needs they face during competitions. We even tested the level of lactate in the blood immediately after the real matches. We are currently developing an app for athletes’ phones to track nutrition, psychological state, training and recovery. This is a short list; we also have a lot of other technologies that we use.
B. It seems that the Olympians used technology in their trainings long before the recent craze of consumers. Is it possible to say that many of today’s fitness gadgets are the result of what has been tested? And proven in the Olympic arena?
A. I don’t know when we prepare world-class athletes for Olympic competitions, we just don’t have time for field tests of technologies that have not been tested or tested in practice. We will get the latest technology from companies like Nike and Samsung, but we are confident that they will be effective when they reach us.
Do you think that new gadgets and apps for fitness and health will improve the health of our country and help citizens become more informed and active participants in their personal health?
A. I hope so; basically it depends on the person and his goals. If the buyer is serious about getting in shape, I recommend that he do the research and make sure that he buys the equipment from respected companies that have proven experience in the market.
A: The last question, any basic advice for those who want to start personal strength and conditioning training?
A. I would start by visiting your local 24-hour fitness center and doing face-to-face training. There is nothing better than an experienced coach who will share his feedback and offer steps to improve. It is not advisable to search the Internet for advice or training tips, as there are no professional reviews, and the information you receive may not correspond to your personal goals.
I’m also a big fan of video feedback for athletes, as is the case with the current world boxing champion, whom I train after the fight. Fight.