CAMILLE LEMKE; Sports Writer;

Pacific Lutheran University recently partnered with Volt Athletics, a sports technology company, in an initiative to provide all PLU students access to professional strength and conditioning training.

“Individualized workouts are accessible via any device through the Volt iPhone app, Android app, or mobile-friendly website and include specific instructions, sets, reps, and prescribed weights, as well as technique demonstrations,” Volt’s Communications Director Doug Buser said. “Additionally, Volt provides dynamic warm-ups, targeted injury prevention routines and detailed metrics to track each athlete’s progress. Athletes can choose to train for over 40 sports, including cycling, tennis, ultimate, swimming and triathlon.”

Volt developed a partnership over the summer with PLU through Coordinator of Recreation Rob Thompson.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said Thompson. “Volt gives us an edge over every other school out there. We have a strength and conditioning coach for varsity athletes and now club sports have the ability to have something similar and train the correct way.”

The partnership allows PLU students to train using Volt for $9 a month, which is a third of the cost the app charges other users.

“With three to four strength training workouts with conditioning options a week, each workout costs a PLU student less than a dollar,” said Buser.

The partnership went into effect at the beginning of this school year but at this point the app is not widely used across campus. Few students know about the partnership let alone the app itself and those that do, most are not thrilled about a price, even a reduced one.

Club athletes like junior Alex Moore, PLU lacrosse player , are one of the people who don’t see the worth of paying for the app and its services.

“Personally I wouldn’t pay to use the app,” said Moore. “Not every conditioning program fits the goals that I need. I play lacrosse, but I also have military fitness standards to meet and they don’t align. As a result, using Volt as a guide for lacrosse could improve my sport performance, but those improvements wouldn’t necessarily carry over to military performance. And on a financial note, it just costs money that lacrosse players would rather spend on gear.”

A common criticism of workout apps is that they lack the coaching required to teach proper and safe form.

PLU Athletics Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Rice said that “one drawback with the app, and this is true for all virtual content, is the inability to teach and correct form,”  Rice said, “Teaching an athlete to squat or clean correctly is often a multi-week endeavor.  In addition, I often uncover a number of movement imbalances or range of motion issues that need to be addressed before an athlete can safely execute a particular movement.  This is a level of oversight that is crucial to success and, unfortunately, not available with a virtual platform.”

Club sport athletes could benefit from using Volt by training as a team with individualized workouts to be at peak performance at the desired time within their sport’s season.

“Each player has their own account and customized loading prescriptions,” said Buser. “We are optimized for teams. You have the flexibility and functionality within your own workout that facilitate different patterns for teams. You can train together.”

Getting an entire team to train the same way together outside of practice is easier said than done, and Moore believes that individual fitness goals could possibly prevent his teammates from using Volt.

“The trouble is that younger players tend to latch onto what the upperclassmen do; they mimic their workouts if their goals are the same,” said Moore. “Also, why pay for an app if I could just look online for the vast amount of sport knowledge that’s out there? Having a tailored program given to you is nice, but it’s not terribly difficult to find or create a program with your needs in mind and execute it to the best of your abilities.”

Students and especially club sport athletes interested in trying the app can access Volt to train at the reduced price by visiting the home page for Recreational Sports on the PLU website.

Despite some initial skepticism, Thompson is eager to see how Volt can help PLU club sport athletes train at a high level.

“Our club sport coaches are great for training on the practice field and Volt gives them another tool to help their athletes train correctly when they’re not there,” Thompson explained. “ In general, Volt is doing us a huge favor by offering to us at such a huge discount. We are a pilot program for Volt and it’s awesome to be the first, and we just need to have students start using it.” ◼︎

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