Adversity Has Helped Cincinnati Create an Amazing Weight Room
Being able to overcome adversity is essential in athletics. In 2017, the football staff at the University of Cincinnati has dealt with some decidedly unique challenges. The fun started when Brady Collins, the director of football sports performance, and his athletes were evicted from their weight room below Fifth Third Arena, the home of Bearcats hoops, due to an $87 million renovation.
“After the winter offseason, we were told we had to relocate for the next 12 to 18 months,” explained Collins. “We made it work during the spring by relocating to the Sheakley Athletics Center locker room area, utilizing a small space both inside and outside. Luckily, the weather was in our favor.”
Eventually, Collins and the athletic staff figured out a way to improve on their spartan digs at Sheakley. The university reinstalled the “Bearcat bubble” a massive 75-foot-tall inflatable structure that normally provides 72,000 square feet of protection for Cincinnati athletic teams during winter months.
“We came to the conclusion to put the bubble back up, and we could build the weight room inside,” said Collins. “The bubble was put up the first week of May. We moved all of our dumbbells and machines in and place them along the sidelines. Once we got the floor laid down, Hammer Strength came in and went to work.”
The installation of 14 new HD Elite Racks and a variety of plate-loaded and cable motion equipment on one end of the bubble created an impressive 9,500-square-foot weight room area adjacent to a large artificial turf field.
The setup gives the Bearcats plenty of training options. In a few months, the Bearcats went from a dungeon in the basement of an arena to a spacious and versatile training space.
"Hammer Strength fits perfectly with our training philosophy,” said Collins. “If we’re not at the racks, you can find us training our guys on the different variations of Hammer Strength plate-loaded machines. We train in a ‘hybrid style’, mixing in variations of Olympic movements with an emphasis on high-intensity training. It's a comprehensive progressive overload system. We focus on strength, power and explosive development. We coach and train extremely hard, with all aspects of safety being our first and upmost priority. We ‘back you into a corner and make your fight your way out.’"
Future plans for the weight room are murky. But for now, it appears the Bearcats have found a home under the bubble.
“It has been a crazy situation, but I enjoy crazy situations and look forward to all the challenges it has given us,” added Collins. “It doesn't matter where we train, it's all about the why and how. Logistics wise it couldn't have worked out any better. We have our own area of training, and an area for practice completely closed off. There's no saying how long the construction will continue to go on, but as long as we have our ‘Thunderdome’, the Bearcats will be in great shape. With all that has happened—the adversity, the moving, the planning, designing—I wouldn't have had it any other way.”