Whanganui Collegiate are looking to the future of their young athletes and it all begins in the gym, after the recent redevelopment of their Izard Sports Centre.

Collegiate director of sport Barry Touzel said the "state-of-the-art" strength and conditioning gym will have its official re-opening confirmed shortly.

Appointed in January to run the gym and fitness programmes at the school was highly qualified strength and conditioning (S&C) specialist Gilman Barnitt.

Barnitt is a Collegiate old boy, and graduated with a Diploma of Physical Education from the University of Otago, then a Master's degree from the University of Western Australia in 1984.

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He worked briefly as a teacher at WCS and in Canberra in the 1980's, before concentrating on his passion for S&C.

Barnitt returned to New Zealand to do work in Wanganui rugby and netball, then moved on to the Taranaki Rugby Union to be an S&C coach, which led to the chance to be the Head S&C coach with the Hurricanes for the 2002 Super Rugby season.

In 2005, Barnitt was appointed Lead S&C coach of the Western Australia Institute of Sport.

"A highly qualified strength and conditioning coach fits well with our world class conditioning facility, which consists of over 100 square metres of gym floor space, fitted out with high quality functional training equipment," said Touzel.

Gilman Barnitt.
Gilman Barnitt.

Barnitt said the Western Australian complex where he worked was part of a $34 million institute, yet Collegiate's facilities still stood up as being one of the best he has seen.

"To have over 100m of floor space and all the latest functional training equipment to work with is unsurpassed at school level.

"The quality of equipment is equal to or better than any of the training facilities of professional sporting organisations that I have worked in, including the Western Australian Institute of Sport facility.

"After takeover a week ago I have been working flat out with very enthusiastic students all willing to learn about strength and conditioning in an effort to improve their performance on the sports fields."

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While the Izard centre will be predominantly used by Collegiate's sports teams and individual athletes, Touzel said the doors will be open for the whole school community.

"Mr Barnitt will over the coming weeks induct all our students through the facility to ensure that each are aware of the importance of correct use of the facility and importantly method of gym work and training.

"These induction lessons will begin with Year 10 physical education classes upwards, and all winter sports teams from badminton through to rugby.

"Thereafter he will run induction classes for all students through their allocated Boarding Houses, which should result in every WCS student understanding this facility and be able to use correctly over the coming weeks."

Inductions will also include other school staff and coaches so that there is always adult supervision in the gym during open hours.

Barnitt will offer all attendees personalised training programmes, which should help athletes with both their in-season and off-season work.

"Add to this WCS new association with Proactive Physiotherapy, ensuring a physiotherapist on site at set times, that will cater to all the needs of our sports students," said Touzel.

This is all part of the school's plan to have each of the sports they offer run by a skilled head coach, with the training equipment to back it up as well as programmes to help conditioning and injury prevention.