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Spotlight Interview: Ben Drury and Hartpury College

2nd February 2016

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Meet Ben Drury, our Programme Manager for Sports Conditioning and Injury Management, as well as Lecturer in Strength and Conditioning. We recently caught up with him to discuss his recent installation at Hartpury College. Here’s how we got on.

What was the main reason for this new facility?

The gyms main purpose is for University teaching, the facility is purpose built for the students’ education. This means that the primary goal was to build a gym that allows the students to be educated in the highest quality environment possible.

How have the students reacted to the new Gym?

The students have reacted really positively; the returning students have obviously experienced first-hand how the improvements to the gym have upgraded their learning. We have noticed that student engagement has increased, and we think this is because of the much more specific activities that can be carried out. For example, each lifting platform has lifting blocks, each station has prow and pull for horizontal pull, each person has a Plyometric Box and Mini Bands. This makes the learning experience stronger because the quality of the products is so high. The integrated flooring allows more space within the gym. The gym is designed well so although there are 5 racks in the area it is still spacious, made a massive difference.

Students understand that the facility is purpose built for their needs, and gives them a respect and appreciation that Hartpury are working hard for them, and are working towards giving them the best opportunity to succeed. For the long term and short term, it is incredibly beneficial.

Another thing we have found is that the enthusiasm from the lecturers is so much higher. Being able to teach in this environment gives us a buzz, and also enables us to teach the stuff we could not have done before. The gym looks fantastic, and because of this it creates a great learning environment. The new students have been very impressed with the new build, and after looking around other universities they could really see how much Hartpury had to offer.

How has the gym enhanced the reputation of the university?

The university already has a fantastic reputation and the new gym has only enhanced this, especially within our S&C department. We have some of fantastic facilities around the campus, and now we’ve added this new facility to the list of great things here at Hartpury. We are continuously striving to improve our reputation; we have the best degree in term of schemes of work and what we can offer. We have great links with internships, teaching – and now the gym to links it all together.

Have you had any interest from outside the university?

From a consultancy point of view, since we have this set up we have had a lot of external interest and their feedback has been excellent. Everything from the design to the quality of the equipment – the Astro turf flooring has been very positive. It offers so much more than just a standard gym. The better facilities you have the better research you can do. With this, there are more people wanting to work with us, so it’s a real advantage.

Are there any other departments or teams that use the facility?

It is purposely built for teaching, so there are no performance teams who use it. However, we do have a strong link with Gloucester Football Club, where a couple of the youth academy players come in and get S&C support on a regular basis. Hopefully in the future, we can become a base for more elite athletes. Currently, Hartpury are running British weightlifting course and the centre should be an accredited centre with the ambition of running more and more consultancy-based projects in the future. There have been external disabled athletes who use the facility. Also, as equine is a huge area for us and with the limited S&C support in equine we do help with this and try reduce the risk of injury to the riders. But, as it is paramount that we provide the best student teaching experience possible, whatever we look to do in the future this will never be compromised.

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