The University of West Florida is currently relishing over its decision to work with Samson Equipment on customizing the entirety of their brand new strength and conditioning facility, which was completed in April 2018. The Argonauts are also enjoying Samson’s famous innovations in their existing weight room.
“The ultimate goal was to make both facilities so similar that it didn’t matter which one the athlete was in. We could train them the same way and have the same tools,” says Kent Morgan, Director of Sports Performance at UWF.
In the project’s first stage, Morgan was entertaining multiple companies when Samson began to stand out from the crowd. “We had certain needs in our weight room that I couldn’t get elsewhere,” says Morgan. “They immediately sent me some 3D layouts, and from that moment on, I was sold. Those were the racks I wanted, and no other companies I had worked with did anything like that.”
The next step was to decide on the optimal floor layout for the new 3,500 square foot facility. Morgan collaborated with Samson on which would allow for the maximum number of racks in the room while avoiding overcrowding. “We have a glass wall that overlooks our football field, so the space has a beautiful view, and I wanted to be able to lay the racks out in certain ways,” says Morgan. “Also with limited floor space, I was looking to have as many different tools and options at the racks themselves as possible. That way, if I needed to keep athletes at the rack area, I could still get a lot done.”
Among the facility’s most prominent features are the Custom Double Sided FTR Racks with Custom Graphics. Morgan opted for custom color and logo bumper plates and outfitted each rack with four medicine balls and four kettlebells. In addition, each rack has four cable stacks with built-in storage. “The racks definitely add more tools to your programming, so I had to have that,” says Morgan.
The capability to store other equipment inside the racks was also a top priority for Morgan. “I didn’t want the bumper plates for the racks to be stored on the floor as horizontal bumper plate trees take up space. We train a lot with single leg squat stands and needed a place for them as well,” says Morgan. “It would’ve been different if we had a 12,000 square foot space, but in here, every inch of the floor is valuable.”
Samson delivered, providing customized storage within each rack to fit the bumper plates, single leg squat stands, cable stacks, barbells, medicine balls, and kettlebells. There were even spots for accessories like ropes and D-handles. “It started out with elevating the horizontal tree racks off the floor, which allowed the space below to be utilized to cleanly store our DC blocks,” says Morgan. “The elevated tree storage keeps your racks looking really clean around the outside so you don’t have anything standing in the way.”
Inside the floor of the new facility, Morgan decided on Inlaid Platforms with the PerformX Tracking System, along with customized storage in each system for 20 bands. One was added to the floor of the renovated weight room as well. “It runs flush with the floor and allows you to clip in a series of built belts so you can add resistance to your squats, benches, and deadlifts,” says Morgan. “With that system comes a lot of bands, and Samson was able to customize that storage so that they all hang cleanly.”
Samson’s commitment to providing innovative customizations didn’t stop there. “I told them I liked the cross bracing systems that I’ve seen other companies and weight rooms do where they connect two rows of racks together with a cross beam,” says Morgan. “I wanted to have that as a visual effect and so we could hang our TVs up on them. They custom designed Links with Custom Branding and Flat Screen TV Displays for me.”
With every inch of the space uniquely designed to fit the university’s specific needs, West Florida’s athletic department is already reaping the benefits. “In this facility, you’re basically unlimited as a strength coach on what you can do. I would put it up there with the best in the country,” says Morgan. “Anyone can walk into our facility and see that nobody else has these racks. They were custom designed especially for all the things I was looking to do – utilizing space, having storage in the racks, and creating a visual effect. We’ve gotten many recruits already, and a lot of the reason is because of that.
“From the time recruits open that door up, the first thing they see is our rack systems, TVs, connected bars, and our custom colors and logos on the bumpers and elsewhere,” continues Morgan. “It visually sells to the athlete the vision of our athletic department and commitment we’re going to have as a program to ensure they’re provided with all the tools they need to be successful.”
As far as Morgan is concerned, UWF made the right decision by choosing Samson Equipment, Inc. to customize their new state-of-the-art facility. “We may not have all the resources big schools have, but I spent 10 years at the Division I level with major universities, and I’d pick this facility over any of them,” says Morgan. “If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t trade out anything. I’d definitely do exactly what I just did.”
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