Since arriving on the Island two years ago, coach Nhat Mai has helped build a strength and conditioning program for students of all abilities, from elite athletes to intramural players and individuals simply seeking healthy fitness habits.
With a positive culture, the program engages varsity and teams, club sports, athletes in their off-seasons, and many others. The program’s philosophy works hand in hand with the school’s best self curriculum, which aims to develop students in mind, body, and spirit.
“It is my goal to help the students at Loomis, whether they be varsity athletes headed off to play college sports or intramural participants, learn how to be fit for life” Coach Mai said.
For in-season varsity teams, Nhat leads the athletes through two lifts a week. “Each lift is different when I am working with varsity teams that are in season,” he explained. “Oftentimes they are tired or beat up from a game the previous day, so instead of lifting we will do recovery stretching and foam rolling to help them recover. Other days they are coming off a couple days off, so we lift hard and train for the next game. I do my best to ask captains and coaches what they think is best for the team.”
For varsity athletes looking to train in the off-season, Nhat runs performance training classes in the morning before school and in the afternoon immediately after the class day. He works to establish a baseline record for each athlete through functional movement tests, which are used as a screening tool to help identify injuries or movement limitations in student athletes. Nhat and each student then can work to improve those indicators. Once student athletes are capable of passing all the tests, they move to more weight training and sport-specific training.
“It is important that students understand what their strengths and weaknesses are and understand their bodies before they begin moving weight around and building strength. The functional movement system allows me to make sure that athletes are physically ready and healthy enough to begin building strength,” Nhat said.
“Coach Mai has done an incredible job thus far and has helped students become more confident in the weight room,” remarked Director of Athletics Sue Cabot. “Before his arrival our students weren’t sure of what to do in the weight room or how to do it. They seemed intimidated. Now they are hungry for more knowledge and constantly looking to Coach Mai in order to get more work.”
Nhat also provides workout programs and nutrition information for everyone on the Island. His Loomis Chaffee portal page provides students and faculty members with resources about workouts, nutrition, meditation, and sports psychology.
Even with the remote curriculum currently in place, Coach Mai is working with students to make sure that they are working out and training to stay fit. Varsity team strength workouts are continuing this spring via the Zoom video-conferencing platform even though the school had to cancel the competition season.
Coach Mai also leads online Zoom workouts Mondays and Wednesdays for all members of the school community, with beginner and advanced levels for interested participants. He also hosts a “Friday Flexibility” Zoom session.
Nhat “is helping our varsity teams become faster and stronger while also providing fitness for life for non-varsity athletes and students,” Sue said.
As part of his work building the strength and conditioning program, Nhat helped make several updates to the facilities over the last two years. Many older exercise machines were removed from the weight room and the Olin Fitness Center, opening space for more functional and aerobic movements. New treadmills, elliptical machines, and spin bikes were added to the fitness center, enabling the introduction of spin workouts and High Intensity Interval Training workouts through online and in-person classes.