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NBTHS first school in New Jersey to use personal training app for students

NORTH BRUNSWICK – To encourage students at North Brunswick Township High School (NBTHS) to live a healthier, more fit lifestyle, the school has employed the use of Volt software with app to track students’ progress.

Dean Petrillo, a teacher and coach at NBTHS, wanted athletes to use the weight room at the school more. So, he and Athletic Director Shaun Morrell looked at four different applications, ultimately choosing Volt, Morrell said.

NBTHS is the first school in New Jersey to receive Volt training since the company received its vendor license to sell in New Jersey, Morrell said.

A panel of individuals at Volt create personalized workouts for student athletes, per position per sport per on/off season – for example, a soccer goalie vs. a football linebacker vs. a football running back. There are warm ups and cool downs, stretching, conditioning drills and footwork drills in addition to weight training exercises.

When the user opens the app, he/she can see each program with each exercise, read training tips and techniques, and watch a video demonstration of each suggestion. He/she will do a pre-assessment on which to base the individualized program, and then a daily check in on soreness, stress and energy levels before beginning the day’s program.

Morrell said sometimes an athlete is strong but needs to be faster, and conditioning drills account for that.

The app also offers a timer for rest periods.

At the end, there is a workout summary that breaks down the day and week.

As the user’s baseline improves, the app will provide more challenging workouts, Morrell said.

“It’s like having a personal trainer going to the gym with you, without having a personal trainer,” Morrell said. “A lot of times students don’t want to go into the weight room because they don’t know the moves or they are uncomfortable … but if you show them how to do it, they are more likely to do it.”

The weight room at NBTHS is open after school three days a week, with one day being allotted to females only. A fitness instructor and strength/conditioning coach are available. About 40 students can be accommodated at one time.

If the student cannot go after school, or does not have access to a personal gym, there are certain exercises that can be done at home with a chair or a wall, for example, Morrell said.

“The beauty of it is that it is for all students,” he said. “We are hoping for some stronger, more fit athletes who are better ready for health and wellness … not only for sports but for working out.”

The app is available to all students at the high school and district staff, not just student athletes. Currently, there are 15 teachers using the app, and since it is being rolled out during different sessions of Physical Education classes to students, everyone will be familiar by the end of the school year, Morrell said.

Teachers can choose to log in and evaluate students’ progress for credit, Morrell said.

The district provided the grant funding for the project, which had a main focus on safe and healthy students, particularly at the high school level.

“The Title IV Part A federal grant first became available to school districts for the 2018-19 school year and North Brunswick received approximately $40,000 in funding which could be applied in the areas of Well Rounded Educational Opportunities as well Safe and Healthy Schools. Mr. Morrell approached me early last winter with the idea of purchasing an interactive platform that customizes student workout plans and focuses on fitness goals. Because this grant, and its allowable uses, was new, [Superintendent of Schools Brian] Zychowski and I saw this as a great opportunity to work with Shaun on applying Title IV grant funds for this initiative,” said Amy Rumbo, director of Accountability and Special Programs for the North Brunswick School District.
The district was able to allocate approximately half of the funding towards Social Emotional Learning programs at the elementary schools, and then half has been invested in promoting healthier student lifestyles for high school students, Rumbo said.
“One of the focuses of this grant is implementing programs that support a healthy, active lifestyle (nutritional and physical education), and this initiative fits this objective perfectly. Through Volt, students can better optimize fitness goals, receive nutrition tips and progress at their own pace. Evidence shows that the health of students is linked to their academic achievement. Students who are physically active tend to have improved grades, attendance, cognitive performance and classroom behaviors. We’re looking forward to monitoring the positive impact that we predict this program will have on our students,” Rumbo said.

Since this is the first year of the program, Morrell said administrators will gauge the progress at the end of the year.

“The goal is to encourage them to live healthier lifestyles outside [of school] as well,” he said.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.

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