Meet a trainer: How Coach Volkmar's fitness philosophy leads to big results


Mike Volkmar coaches student

Coach Volkmar emphasizes consistency and commitment with Peddie students.

Mike Volkmar has a passion for all things fitness.

As Peddie’s strength and conditioning coach, he’s developed performance training programs for more than 1,200 student-athletes. Some have gone on to remarkable athletic careers at the collegiate and professional level.

But it’s not just the seasoned athletes who are a source of pride for Volkmar. Equally impactful are the students who have overcome personal insecurities and developed a positive work ethic under his leadership.

“I remember the shy ninth-grader who used to look at the fitness center as a big cavern of insecurity,” said Volkmar. “By the end of the year, she had confidence in her workout routine and started recruiting her peers to join.”

He also recalled, “There was a junior on the boys’ soccer team who saw a freshman struggling with an exercise, stopped what he was doing, and walked over to help. I remember those students just as vividly as the All-American performers.”

By the end of the year, she had confidence in her workout routine and started recruiting her peers to join.”

Frequently, Coach Volkmar’s former students report that Peddie’s strength and conditioning program rivals or exceeds their college program. “I look forward to each fall when recent graduates visit Peddie over break and tell me how they crushed their fitness test or advanced to the returning athlete lift group because they know the lingo and are proficient in all movements.”

Coach, author, amateur powerlifter

Volkmar has coached high school and college students, as well as professional athletes. He worked for three years as the strength and conditioning coach at The George Washington University (GWU), where he trained affiliate teams for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals. He was a performance coach at IMG Academies in Florida and the director of strength and conditioning at the APEX Academies.

Headshot of Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Volkmar

Mike Volkmar has developed exercise and fitness programs for more than 1,200 Peddie athletes.

Along with a master’s degree in exercise science from GWU, Volkmar earned advanced specialty certifications in strength and conditioning, post-rehab exercise, athletic development and sports medicine. An amateur powerlifter, he has also written and contributed to a number of workout handbooks.

Coaching philosophy

Volkmar’s coaching philosophy is one that embraces hard work and consistency over talent. “I tell my students, ‘you must earn the barbell.’ Meaning, they have to pass bodyweight and dumbbell tests before they earn the privilege of using the barbell. It’s a back-to-basics approach.

“I teach them to control what they can control, and that includes their work ethic. I want everyone to strive every day for positive, consistent effort.”

It’s essential to Volkmar that Peddie students remain disciplined in their athletic pursuits. But he motivates each athlete differently. “Some students may simply need the confidence to be in the weight room, while others want to increase speed and strength to make the varsity team. I have to build a relationship with each athlete and push them past their previous physical and mental limits.”

Commitment = big results

Peddie basketball standout Natalie Stralkus

Natalie Stralkus ’18 said that Coach Volkmar has helped her grow as an athlete and as a person.

Girls’ basketball standout Natalie Stralkus ’18, who recently eclipsed 1,000 career points, said that Volkmar taught her the value of patience. “Coach Volkmar helped me grow as an athlete and as a person. I came to Peddie unable to do one real push-up. I'm now attending the United States Military Academy, and in the Army, push-ups are a must! I’ve learned from Coach Volkmar that by consistently putting in work, you will get big results.”

When you commit to his program, you’ll make major progress. Adam Conyer ’18

Peddie football linebacker Adam Conyer ’18, who was recruited to play for the University of Pennsylvania, credits Coach Volkmar in part for his successful athletic career. “He is a very dedicated coach,” said Conyer. “When I arrived at Peddie, I had very little knowledge of weight training. Coach Volkmar taught me the fundamentals and improved my technique. When you commit to his program, you’ll make major progress.”

That’s music to Volkmar’s ears: “My favorite part of my job is seeing the unbridled joy and accomplishment of an athlete in the weight room after a big lift.”