LATHAM — If the Shaker crew team elevates itself to elite status this spring, it will have the folks at Plaza Fitness Performance to thank for it.
Shaker rowers have been working two days a week with Anthony Demetriou at the Route 9 gym to improve their strength and endurance in order to better handle the rigors of competing against some of the top high school teams in the state.
“I think we’re going to be much faster and much stronger this year,” said senior Samantha Mysliewiec. “A lot of us have hit our personal records, and that will translate into our performance on the water.”
This is the first time Shaker crew has devoted itself to offseason weight training.
“One of the moms of one of the kids is a member here, and she was the one who actually asked me about doing this,” said Demetriou, Plaza Fitness Performance’s program director. “It was just coincidence and communication.”
Demetriou evaluated each of the rowers when they began the program in December, and he said the improvement everyone has shown has been impressive.
“(They’ve had) significant improvement in strength, significant improvement in endurance and significant improvement in power,” said Demetriou.
Demetriou said he deliberately targeted three areas for the rowers to work on.
“We knew that rowing has something to do with upper body strength, upper body endurance, core strength and lower body strength,” said Demetriou. “So, we put the program together from there.”
For the last three months, Shaker’s rowers have been using weights, kettlebells, resistance bands and ropes to build their core and improve their stamina. Moving around the gym in small groups, the rowers have been lifting, pulling and jumping their way to a level of fitness they never knew they needed to compete in the sport.
“I thought this was crazy,” said sophomore Ryan Parker. “I don’t usually do this much exercise. I’m usually sitting in front of the TV. This program has shown me what hard work can do for me.”
Mysliewiec said she’s seen a lot of personal progress since the workouts began. She just hit her personal fitness record at the beginning of the month, which she said should help her when the first regatta takes place in April.
“I was really excited because usually we just do erg(onomic) and cardio work during the winter,” said Mysliewicz. “So, to add weight training is just icing on the cake.”
If the program pays off the way Demetriou hopes it does for Shaker’s rowers, he said he’s looking forward to hearing about more first-place finishes for the Blue Bison.
“Our hope is that we’ve done so well with these kids that … they’ll have great success this season,” said Demetriou.