Aylin Karagozoglu '21 is the first Peddie student to earn Iron Falcon status.
Treadmill. Stair-step. Lift. Stretch. Repeat. Your exercise regimen can become boring, especially when it’s confined indoors during the cold winter months.
“It can sometimes be difficult going through the workout routine,” says Ethan Madden ’21, “but I know in the long run it will prepare me for the upcoming season.”
That’s why Madden, a rower, is among the many students excited about Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Volkmar’s new “Iron Falcon” program. Introduced this winter, the Iron Falcon program seeks to inspire and motivate athletes to make the most of their workout routines. It’s designed for the full range of student ability and tailored for specific sports and individuals.
From the bench press and broad jump to agility drills, Volkmar took 12 foundational activities designed to build strength, power and speed and assigned points based on data he’s collected in the fitness center over the last decade. The program is then further tailored to individual students’ goals.
Rowers, for example, are assigned selected exercises based on the 500-meter sprint, 2k and one-minute max power test. Football players’ programs include the NFL Combine agility tests, and swimmers select the main event they want to focus on to tailor their program.
The ultimate goal for students is to earn the Peddie Strong t-shirt by scoring a minimum of 48 of the possible 60 points, or a score of 80 percent. And by design, it’s no easy task.
"It's a school-wide program that encourages kids, but they have to be proactive,” says Volkmar. “I am not giving the honor away. It's my hope that every athlete works towards this recognition."
Gianna Zanghi ’20 is working toward that goal and is learning a great deal about herself in the process. “It’s motivated me to become a more well-rounded athlete,” Zanghi explained. “The wide range of exercises within the program inspires me to set goals I would not otherwise set for myself, and I’ve also noticed that my time is spent more efficiently in the gym since the program was implemented. Now, I walk into the gym with a purpose — a prerequisite for athletic success.”
Madden particularly appreciates the goal sheets given to each participant. “I am able to set achievable goals while also managing my progress and it’s a major boost in morale,” he says.
As always with programs he designs in the fitness center, Volkmar keeps the mission of Peddie in the forefront. “The Iron Falcon program is about the workouts, but it’s also about teaching student-athletes to work towards something long-term and to make healthy, well-thought-out decisions,” he says. To this end, bonus points can be earned for consistency (i.e., making every workout on time) and scholarship (raising GPA), and, particularly for multi-sport athletes, for effectively balancing time and commitment.