Episode 165 – Tom van Kalken


At Geelong Grammar School, we believe in nurturing not only academic excellence but also holistic personal growth. With a thriving community of 600 boarding students, we recognize the importance of physical well-being alongside intellectual pursuits. Our state-of-the-art gym is a pivotal part of this endeavor, offering students a space to focus on their fitness goals during specific times of the day. This article delves into how Geelong Grammar School fosters a sense of autonomy and choice in student fitness, creating a structured environment within the backdrop of communal living.

Subject: Long-term athletic development and the importance of meeting the Athlete halfway

Highlights of the episode:

  • How the boarding component shaped his training philosophy
  • What their access to the gym is like at Geelong Grammar
  • The difference between training poorly for little result vs. training poorly potentially resulting in injury
  • Key areas to train students in relation to their programming
  • Common mistakes S&C make in school setting

A Space for Autonomy: The Gym at Geelong Grammar

The gym at Geelong Grammar School is not just a room with exercise equipment; it’s a sanctuary for students to take charge of their physical well-being. Unlike structured athletic programs, training here is a choice made by the students during their downtime. This autonomy empowers them to be proactive about their health, instilling habits that can last a lifetime.

Supervised Sessions: Prioritizing Safety

While we value autonomy, safety is paramount. To ensure a secure environment, access to the gym must be supervised by a coach. This supervision extends to select times over the weekend, providing students with ample opportunities to receive expert guidance while pursuing their fitness goals.

Tom van Kalken: A Mentor in Fitness

Central to our approach is Tom van Kalken, a seasoned fitness coach with a passion for mentoring students. His philosophy goes beyond physical training; it’s about building relationships. Through these connections, students gradually adopt more effective training methods, setting the stage for long-term athletic development.

Foundations of Strength: Tom’s Training Principles

Tom’s training philosophy is rooted in fundamental strength-building exercises. He emphasizes techniques like squats and deadlifts, recognizing their foundational importance in any fitness regimen. Additionally, coordination exercises form a crucial component, enhancing overall athletic performance.

A Holistic Approach to Personal Growth

The gym at Geelong Grammar School embodies our commitment to holistic education. It’s not merely a space for physical exertion, but a venue for character development, discipline, and self-discovery. Students emerge from their workouts not only physically stronger but also with a heightened sense of confidence and self-awareness.

Fostering Lifelong Habits

By giving students the autonomy to choose their fitness path, Geelong Grammar School lays the foundation for lifelong habits. Whether it’s a morning run, a lunchtime yoga session, or an evening weightlifting routine, these choices become integral parts of their lives, promoting a culture of wellness that extends far beyond their time within our walls.

Conclusion: Empowered, Fit, and Ready for Life

Geelong Grammar School’s approach to student fitness is a testament to our dedication to holistic education. Through the gym, we empower students to take charge of their physical well-being, fostering autonomy, safety, and mentorship. Under the guidance of coaches like Tom van Kalken, they not only build strength but also relationships that last a lifetime. As our students graduate, they leave not only academically accomplished but also equipped with the tools for a healthy, fulfilling life.

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