More and more, ultimate players and their teams are recognizing the benefits of a progressive strength training plan paired with conditioning workouts and conventional practice. What’s incredible is that the Seattle community has an awesome space to gather and use for their teams to do this strength training work together, and then some! If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of the place. ;)
Yes, this post might sound a bit like an advertisement, but honestly, I want to let you know about the incredible resource we’ve built for you if you’re here in Seattle. If you don’t live here, I want you to know what kinds of characteristics you can look for when trying to find a place for your team to train. Or, you know, you can always move here!
Equipment & Space
Ultimate players can get by working out on machines, but you won’t get all the maximum benefits of strength training until you’re slinging around some free weights. Some bonus things to look for in a gym for ultimate players are solidly built plyo boxes for training jumping and power, and sleds for working on your acceleration (one of the most important parts of winning your matchup!). I also love training with kettlebells in addition to dumbbells, since you can do some more dynamic movements with them as the mass is centered away from the handle. As far as barbells go, you’ll want them on silky bearings that allow you to snap through some Olympic lifts if that’s your jam. Bonus points if the gym lets you drop your weights - many gyms don’t allow this because the weight plates aren’t the right type for this or because there’s not enough space to do this quickly.
The good news is, as a strength and conditioning facility where we thought intentionally about what ultimate players need, we’ve got all that stuff. Most importantly, we have enough of all these things and enough space that your whole team can get involved in this training together. We’ve already had several teams come in and work with us, whether as a team rental or under the supervision of our coaches. Seattle Mixtape players Lexi Garrity and Evan Klein, “love that my equipment is always available,” and that they’ve, “been able to use weight sleds and boxes that are normally not available… in a gym designed for the average joe.” Sockeye captain Simon Montague lauds, “the availability of space/equipment for the entire team to lift, combined with the throwing and training benefits of the adjacent turf, provides the most ultimate-friendly training space in the Seattle area!”
When looking for a Strength and Conditioning Coach, you want to find someone who is certified by a reputable organization and really knows team sports. If you can, you’ll want to find someone who already knows ultimate or is willing to learn about it. There are some things that are good for field sports in general, but ultimate has its own specific quirks that need to be accounted for when programming workouts. The best coaches are also in touch with common injuries and their mechanisms, as well as specific muscle imbalances that arise from our extremely asymmetrical sport. You want someone who knows the movement patterns that are essential to your life and sport and knows how to adapt training to teach and reinforce those proper movement patterns. Even better, you might want a coach who gives back to the community and demonstrates a value set that aligns with yours and your team’s; that way, you know that you’re investing in a business you want to see thrive!
Goodness gracious, we have the best coaches, and they’re also incredible at writing blog posts that you find fascinating and want to read all the way through. In all seriousness, we’re a set of women who are very passionate about this sport, and we want the community to become even stronger in all the senses of that word. As a whole business, we’re committed to providing a hub for the ultimate community and reinvesting in youth ultimate, especially girls, and even more so with kids who normally wouldn’t be able to access strength coaches. Between the three of us, we can help you with strength training with all kinds of weights, targeted core and stability work, running form, soft tissue and mobility, movement evaluations... Each of us has our own passion area and style, and we come at ultimate from different angles and experiences, so there’s bound to be a good coaching fit for what your team needs. If you don’t want coaching from us, that’s okay, too! We’ll still open the space and our hearts to you.
Of course I have to kick off the quotes from players with someone talking about how great I am personally - “it’s great to have other eyes on me for good form, especially from such a great coach as Bert,” but that’s Meagan Kapostasy from my own team, Mixtape, so take from that what you will! Heather Ann Brauer, coach of the Ingraham girls’ team, had her girls work with us and “committed to being in the gym every week during the spring season. We prioritized the time at RenFitness over even practice times - the result was obvious, we had fewer injuries, we were able to keep up with (and challenge!) the most athletic teams in Seattle. Our athleticism was noted by other teams and coaches, it helped us to achieve the most successful season in the program's history… Ren and her staff were flexible with what we needed, adjusting on the fly to really customize to the needs of the team over the season and even on a week by week basis.” Evan is excited that he “can get tailored training routines from the staff designed to aid me in specific aspects of [his] game!”
We have all kinds of team programming and coaching packages that are adaptable to your team’s specific needs. You’re guaranteed that the work we’d give you is designed for ultimate and catered to the timing of your season.
The environment of a gym is so crucial to the experience you have in the place. Look for community gyms that are focused on the workout atmosphere and show their values set clearly through the behavior of their staff and what they ask of you when you walk in. A lot of the big box gyms have contracts that ensure they can take your money. Instead, look for gyms that ask you to be respectful of others, if that’s what you value from the people around you.
When you walk into our gym, one of the first things you’ll see are the words “Strive & Uplift” in large, black font painted on the back wall. This is the environment we want for our athletes that pairs so elegantly with Spirit of the Game. We want you to reach for your goals while building up and supporting those around you!
Lexi says, “I like working in a space with like-minded people. I feel supported and not worried about a ‘jock culture’,” an often intimidating factor when walking into the free weights section of mainstream gyms. Cam Bailey, also of Mixtape and the Seattle Cascades feels “the gym has a great atmosphere for anyone looking to improve…Everyone belongs at RenFitness.”
Finally, when you choose to strength train as a team, you build a team culture around being strong and working hard together, and it makes the work more enjoyable. (Usually, you pick teammates you like and want to be around!) If you’re interested in getting the whole team into a place at the same time, look for a place that can accommodate this through private classes or rentals. If you’re looking to lift in pods, see if you can find a way to have the flexibility that a pod schedule allows, where team members can work out at times that are most appropriate for them.
We’ve restructured our team offerings to provide more options for teams on how to get into our gym. In addition to renting the space outside of business hours, setting up a class with a group of people, or using individual memberships, we’ve added a pod option within business hours. This way, a team can pay for a time during our business hours (like on weeknights!) where a group or the whole team comes in, meaning a team can set up the culture of strength training and provide multiple options for teammates to get their lift on.
All the players from Mixtape I talked to were excited about the social joy and extra motivation that working out with teammates provides. The training the Ingraham girls’ team did at the gym “built a team culture around strength that carried over to how players showed up collectively as a team and individually as leaders. Players were more mentally tough than in previous years and more connected, the gym really created a powerful place to grow confidence in self and team.” This kind of empowerment is true for players of all ages!
We’re so excited that we can offer teams the space to perform this valuable practice together and reap all the benefits of strength training as a squad. This is an exciting time in Seattle, where there is so much momentum behind club teams in every division. We’re so excited to be a part of this movement and growth and are here to help you harness your full potential! Let us know how you and your team want to engage with the gym, and we’ll get you started!