Wayzata High School debuts their new and improved weight room design, which now offers more open space, and updated equipment. This welcoming, and spacious floor plan draws athletes in by offering more personalized training sessions with Coach Ryan Johnson. With this new layout, the equipment is now strategically placed around the room, freeing space and providing athletes with more room to train. Here’s how turf can benefit your weight room.
I’m Ryan Johnson and we’re at Wayzata High School. I’ve been here for 15 years as a strength and conditioning coach. We’re very happy to show off our brand new facility. We wanted a large door, wanted to get equipment in and out. We also wanted to be able to move a lot of kids in and out. But another big factor of it was we wanted an environment that was inviting and not the old small dark rooms with the small doors trying to manipulate equipment through. And a lot of times people felt apprehensive about approaching the weight room and looking through a little window. Now what we’ll see is people come down the hallway, see the open and the big door and well lit room and it invites them in. It draws people in.
Why did you choose this design?
We wanted to open the facility up. In our other weight room we had raised platforms. We had a lot of 90 degree turns with equipment, narrow spaces, looking at accessibility, issues like that.
We wanted a much more open flowing floor plan. So that’s why we came up with the idea of putting the largest equipment to the edges, and then putting the platforms basically built into the ground, and having our open space down the middle for all kinds of training.
I mean the biggest change in what I’m doing as a coach is probably because of this turf down the middle. And it’s very common to walk in here and see one group of kids, say they’re going to be doing goblet squats here, the next group is doing front squats, inside the racks will be back squatting. So it allows for that differentiation so that I can meet the needs of the athletes better as opposed to training a hundred kids at once and we’re all squatting today.
What is the benefit of the racks and platforms being aligned?
By staging the racks closest to the wall 1. that allows for our sight lines. Our view isn’t disrupted by anything. I wanted the large pieces of equipment closest to the walls, and again to open it up. We wanted platforms set back from the racks and not necessarily joined so now I’ve got two separate work stations here. It just made the room much more user friendly.
And the biggest thing with high schools is the ability to train a lot of kids at once. Because that’s what we need to do. We need to have good sight lines, we need to supervise them, we need to coach them. And being able to see everybody at one time is a big component of coaching. Especially the high school kids.
A little feature of the logos and the platforms is they’re a certain size based on where we want kids’ foot placements. So we’ll tell them on a pull stance we’re going to narrow our feet. Now we’re going to be hugging the ‘w’. And on a push or a press stance we want to be a bit wider, so now we’re hugging the Trojan face. So we use those as coaching cues built right in the flooring.
How has this weight room design improved participation?
This design did allow us to reach other coaches and other sports. Now instead of us doing barbell lunges, now they can take their athletes and do power lunges with bands and have the athletes marching up and down the turf. To them when they see that in their mind they can see that applying to the track. Where as some of the things we did just on the platforms or just on the stations, they couldn’t quite see that in their minds how that was going to help out the athlete. So when you can do some things that relates it, puts in the field or court for that coach, I think that helps out a lot.
What is the functionality of this weight room design?
I have twelve racks in the room. We have seven stations or platforms on each side. I wanted to break the room up because after school or even in some of my classes, I can have anywhere up to 4 weight rooms in one weight room right now.
I can have this area dedicated to one sport right after school. This area can be dedicated to just open lifting. A track team here. A basketball team here. In classes I can put Level 1 here, Level 2 here. This floor plan and breaking them up like this allows me to have kind of mini rooms within the rooms. So from a management and coaching standpoint I know what to expect from this group. I know what to expect from this group.
I left the middle two racks open because I didn’t want to fill it up right away. One was cost. We didn’t have a huge budget right away. And the other was I want to train this room for a couple years before I buy too much stuff. We out equipment in right away, we knew that we were going to need bumpers, we knew we needed weights and bars but I also kind of want to wait and see what else is out there because I’m going out to other clinics and schools and learning. I didn’t want to fill it up with everything we had done before because I wanted to leave room for expansion and growth in terms of training, as well.
To train with the same high-quality equipment featured in the video, check out the following!
Johnson is a graduate of Normandale Community College, Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota, playing football at both NCC and Augsburg. “RJ” teaches physical education at Wayzata High School and is the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Wayzata Public Schools, a position he began in 2000. Wayzata Athletics have captured 52 team state titles in histenure; Johnson works directly with the three-time state champion football program as Director of Operations and Player Development. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist as well as a Registered Strength and Conditioning Specialist – both certifications with Distinction and is the Minnesota NSCA State Director. NSCA awards include Minnesota High School Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year 2010; State Director of the Year 2013; Strength of America Award 2015; and 2017 National High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. In 2017 he became a founding Board Member of the National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA); and serves as a Regional Director for the organization. A former volunteer firefighter, he also received an Award of Merit from the Minnesota Department of Health and Safety for participation in a lifesaving CPR/AED effort to revive a player that suffered sudden cardiac arrest while at practice. Johnson is a frequent clinician, speaker, author and his Wayzata Trojan Power program has been visited by over 50 other high school and small college programs. He also volunteered his time in the Rockford School District where he and his wife and four children reside by serving as the Rockford Area Youth Athletic Association President and Youth Football Director.