It's just after 8 o'clock on the Friday morning after the Star Spangled Spectacular in Storm Lake, and exercise machines are humming in the back room of the Sports Rehab & Professional Therapy Associates building in Storm Lake.
The early morning hour is a time when many high school sophomores are still in bed, but Nick Netsch, Ryne Paterson and Jeff Foell aren't dreaming the summer away about athletic success. Instead, the three are vigorously running on treadmills and riding exercise bikes, part of a cardiovascular and endurance program that may help turn their visions of victory into reality.
The trio of St. Mary's Panthers are taking part in the Explosion Program at Sports Rehab, a three-year old training program that has a goal of improving the flexibility, power, speed, muscular endurance of area athletes through hour-long workouts consisting of cardiovascular conditioning and sport-specific plyometric work.
Founded by Shane Higgins in May of 1999, the program is now under the direction of former North Dakota State softball player Megan Cooper, and Cooper said she feels Explosion is something that can help give the participating athletes a head start in terms of conditioning and endurance for their upcoming sports seasons.
"The best part of this program, and I'm looking at this from an athlete's point of view, is that you're all ready to go once the season starts," Cooper said. "You don't have to waste the first two weeks of the season getting in shape. You're that far ahead already, and for me, that's the best part of this."
Students from Storm Lake High, St. Mary's, Newell-Fonda, Schaller-Crestland, Alta, Aurelia, Sioux Central and Laurens-Marathon all participate in the sessions, which meet three times a week for six weeks prior to the start of practice of fall, winter, spring and summer sports.
While there are a few college students in the program, most of those in Explosion are high school athletes like Netsch, Paterson and Foell, and Foell, who is participating for the first time, said he joined because he wanted to get his body in shape before the season started.
"I wanted to be in the best physical condition I could, and it's definitely working," Foell said. "I wake up pretty sore every day, but I feel pretty good, because it's going to make things a lot easier once the season starts."
"I wanted to get in shape and lose some weight at the same time," Netsch said. "It's working, that's for sure."
Rather than providing a broadbased exercise curriculum, the Explosion program is tailored by Cooper for each individual athlete in each individual sport. For example, workouts for football players and volleyball players will vary, and routines will also be individualized for those playing various positions within each sport, such as linemen, wide receivers and running backs in football and sprinters and throwers in track.
Cooper, who tries out each exercise routine herself before giving it to her athletes, said that sport-specific mindset of the program is something she and the rest of the Explosion staff take pride in.
"We want to try to individualize the workouts for all of the athletes, because it can make a difference," Cooper said. "Being able to have workouts that concentrate on what they need for that specific sport gets them ready for that season, and it also helps them get stronger and reduces the chances for injury at the same time."
Each six-week session costs $50, but Cooper said the price is reduced to $35 per athlete if four students from one team and position participate in the workouts together.
For more information on Explosion and when future sessions will begin, contact Cooper at Sports Rehab at 732-7725.