Chris Stachewicz, director of campus recreation at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and Ami Galindo, coordinator of facilities and activities, play a part in preparing the Chicago Blackhawks – a member of the National Hockey League – for the ice each season. While Galindo’s participation is relatively recent, Stachewicz has worked with the team for the past 10 years.
“When I started my (previous) job at the University of Illinois at Chicago, my boss at the time was in charge (of the team’s pre-season testing),” he said. Stachewicz was asked to help run a battery of fitness and agility tests for each player, and he soon mastered administration of the wingate test – a 30-second maximum output test performed on a stationary bicycle.
“(The wingate test) shows how quickly you can get to peak power and how long you can sustain it against a load. … Sometimes for this team it was against nine percent of their body weight,” he explained. “I currently do another test, which is a vertical jump test. … They look at a lot of different things; it’s not just how high (you can jump). It’s your maximum take-off velocity, … and average peak power.”
Stachewicz says the pre-season tests measure more than just physical fitness. They can also evaluate the potential for player injuries, decide who makes the team and help injured players return to pre-injury capabilities.
“(This vertical jump test) has a video that goes with it that shows how (the player) stands (and) what they look like when they’re taking off or landing, so you can find abnormalities that can maybe lead toward injuries. So, there’s injury prevention that goes with it. There’s so much more. It really has evolved into a critical science,” he said. “What I do is administer the test, go over the results and make sure it is now uploaded into an app that they have so they can compile all their data.”
UT Martin students, faculty, staff and community members can now benefit from the Blackhawks’ work through an online platform developed by a Blackhawks coach. Referred to locally as “Skyhawk Strong,” this platform provides customizable daily workouts for users that go beyond lifting heavy weights.
“I get a link text messaged to me every day, and then I fill out the survey. … It wants to know your energy level, how do your muscles feel, how did you sleep last night and how motivated you are to workout. It’ll ask you how long of a workout you would like, but then it will also ask if you have a full gym (or) a hotel gym or if you want a body workout,” he said. “You put all that information in, and it spits out your workout. So, it’s all based on you. It’s not just ‘I feel like lifting upper body today.’ It gives you a full-body workout, and most of it is not about lifting heavy weights. It’s more about mobility, strength, core.”
For $30 per month (half the cost of a professional subscription), Stachewicz says the use of this technology is a way to make daily workouts more accessible and approachable for everyone, even those without access to a full traditional gym.
“I used to think you had to bring (students) in here (at the Student Recreation Center) to work out, but when you go on vacation (between semesters), you don’t want to come to the rec center. You want to work out at home. We can help facilitate all that and help that healthier lifestyle,” he said. “I work with one of the coaches from the Blackhawks, who made (this platform), and was able to bring it to UTM.”