The Edge Takes You Behind-the-Scenes of FAU’s Elite Weight Room

The motto for Florida Atlantic University’s athletic program is “Winning in Paradise”. With year-round sunshine, warm temperatures and a campus less than two miles from the beach, the Boca Raton location takes care of the paradise part. As for the winning, that begins in the gym that anchors the Schmidt Family Complex of Academic and Athletic Excellence that sits right next to the football field at FAU Stadium.

Ask any head coach of any major college sport where championships are built and they’ll all say the same thing: “in the weight room.”

All things being equal, the commitment, drive, focus and camaraderie that is established while a team lifts in the off-season and in between games and practices can be a difference maker. That time is what separates the good teams from the great teams and the great teams from the legendary teams. This is why the top athletic programs spend so much time making sure their facilities are up to the task, with cutting-edge training equipment, recovery modalities, nutritionists and dieticians on staff.

“We monitor every aspect of our athletes for peak performance,” Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Guarascio says. “From workouts and meals, to hydration tests, protein, whatever they need.”

On this particular Monday, when we arrive for our tour just a few hundred yards from PUR-FORM’s offices on FAU’s campus, the football team is in the middle of a recovery day following a road game in South Carolina against Clemson that weekend.

The nearly dozen and a half power racks that run through the spine of the eighty yard room are dormant. The several tons of plates are neatly placed on their appropriate pegs, the thick chains used for resistance aren’t clanging and the heavy battle ropes are silent.

The typical weight room hype music isn’t blaring. The lights are even dimmed a bit.

Since the team is in recovery mode, so is the weight room. The talking is in low tones. The flat screens that line the ceiling are showing zen-inspired videos of waterfalls or fields swaying.

Over on one side of the room a few athletes are slowly maneuvering their hips over a row of hurdles for mobility work. On the other side, a group of football players are lying prone on the ground, stretching their legs up against the racks as they increase range of motion. And there’s even a row of players sitting in chairs, wearing Normatec recovery boots with their legs propped up on platforms.

“Every position group and individual has their own recovery routine after a game,” Coach Guarascio says. “We had a game two days ago and we traveled, so today is a repair day to reduce inflammation and improve healing as much as possible.”

Similar to many of the recommendations by Dr. Purita at PUR-FORM, Coach Guarascio and his staff have a laser-like focus on reducing inflammation, boosting mitochondria, and using regenerative medicine tools at their disposal, from the aforementioned normatec boots to cold plunges, red light therapy, saunas, IVs and more.

Sitting just outside the weight room are two football practice fields and Coach Guarascio says when they have practices in the punishing South Florida humidity, the athletes hop into the weight room to get some air conditioning and hydrate to recover properly during practice. And when practice is over, they’re given protein shakes, glucose tablets if needed and tart cherry juice as a recovery aid.

Build. Practice. Recover. Game. Repeat.

This is the rhythm of a college football season. 

And it all starts in the weight room.


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