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University of St Mark and St John Sports Science Workshop

On the 21st of March our Sixth Form PE students visited Plymouth Marjon University, home to a world-class sports centre and dedicated sports science laboratory.

The day consisted of tours around the University's state-of-the-art sports centre that is popular with both local and international athletes. The centre is loaded with cutting-edge sport and fitness equipment, which the students were lucky enough to experiment with as they took part in various fitness tests.

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First, they were shown to the Environmental Chamber, which can simulate altitudes of up to 21,000 ft. and temperatures between -20c and 40c. This equipment is generally used for the purpose of athletic performance testing, pre-acclimatisation and studies of physical wellness.

Next they were shown the Bod Pod, a gold standard body composition tracking system which is an air displacement plethysmograph. It uses the whole body densitometry to determine body composition with gold standard accuracy in adults and children.

In the practical lab, the students completed tests investigating their speed, reaction time, power and BMI. They used state of the art equipment including light gates, pressure pads and a Batax reaction wall. In the afternoon they tried out the anti-gravity treadmill which allows performers to reduce gravity’s impact on their joints by selecting any weight between 20% and 100% of the body weight. It is often used to rehabilitate local professional footballers. All of the tests that the students administered were entered into a work booklet and compared against normative data.


Finally, the group finished the day with a VO2 max test which two students took part in. The test measures maximal aerobic capacity to indicate cardio-respiratory performance. It looks at the efficiency of several mechanisms including the pulmonary, cardiac and vascular systems and its ability to transport oxygen to the active skeletal cells for exercise.

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PE teacher Chloe Smith said “Overall, it was an extremely interesting, interactive and informative trip. It’s not every day that our students get to run on an anti-gravity treadmill worth £50,000! We all learnt a great deal and experienced a number of cutting edge sports science tests that gave us a valuable insight into how technology can positively impact sport, performance and physical activity”.

Marjon anti gravity


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