Sparta Sports Science Lab
October 10, 2012
In addition to sleep consulting, Sparta athletes receive individual counseling on nutrition and flexibility, including expectations regarding how much protein and vegetables they should be taking in. The trainers teach the athletes correct stretching techniques and use foam rollers to target key areas that each individual uses differently.
The makeup of the program is about half professionals and half high school or college athletes. The major sports represented by Sparta athletes are baseball for men and volleyball for women, although trainers have played and studied enough to accommodate most sports.
Some of the professionals who have trained at Sparta include Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles, Tyson Ross of the Oakland Athletics and hometown hero Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets. Teresa Noyola, who also works out there, just finished her soccer career at Stanford University.
Sparta has many Paly athletes participating in workouts as well. Pitcher Brian Kannappan (‘14) likes that it is not only specific to the sport the athlete plays, but also the athlete’s position. He has worked out at Sparta since the middle of last summer.
“They analyze how balanced of an athlete you are, then adjust your workout to accommodate that balancing rate, force and timing,” Kannappan said. “They helped me as a pitcher by making the most use out of my body. They helped my rotational power, leg strength and shoulder flexibility, which increase throwing speed.”
Sparta’s individualized attention separates it from other gyms. There are different workouts for each sport and individual, depending on what his or her strengths and weaknesses are.
“The force plate really addresses the individual and then we use what we call skills to address the sport,” Wagner said. “With a pitcher, we work a lot on lateral drive like they do off of the mound. We will bench with football guys and work on approach jump with volleyball players.”
Sparta also mixes different types of music into the workouts to help the athletes with the rhythm of their movements. During the running and jumping exercises, hip-hop and other music full of beats and rhythm are played, whereas during the weightlifting, more heavy electronic music is utilized to help pump up the athletes.
Sparta faces competition from the colleges and professional programs that are free to athletes. Since Sparta is a privately owned business, the programs start at about $130 per workout. Sparta differs from those other programs because of its focus on the individual rather than the general position or sport the individual plays.
“[We are] able to objectively assess somebody and say, ‘this is what you specifically need,’” Wagner said. “There are other assessments out there for athletes, but they are subjective and not certain.”
Basketball player Hope Crockett (‘14), who has worked out at Sparta since February, enjoys the individualized attention and instruction that the trainers give to each athlete.
“It is an all-around better athlete training,” Crockett said. “It is tied into science a lot, so they have lots of facts to back up what you do. They have really good instructors and they focus on mechanics so you feel like you are getting the most out of all your workouts.”
Most gyms around Palo Alto help athletes get faster and stronger, but without any scientific evidence to support the exercises they do. Sparta is the only place in the area to help individuals find their weaknesses and improve them using their scientific technology. It has shown great success, in its three years of operation, by producing professional athletes in the Bay Area, like through Noyola and Lin.
James joined The Viking staff this year as a junior at Palo Alto High School. He plays varsity lacrosse and in his time likes to play other sports with...