Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This morning we woke up to very cold weather. Breakfast was at 7am. We were pleasantly surprised with a hot breakfast of bacon and eggs instead of the expected toast and cereal.

John our bus driver for the day picked us up to go to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). The development of the AIS was greatly due to Australia's poor performance in the 1976 Olympics. Australia wanted to create a space where their elite athletes could train and increase their performance for future competitions. Athletes at the AIS may be as young as 15-16 years of age. If athletes are school age, training programs are scheduled around attending the local high school. The AIS encourages all the athletes to do things outside of their sport whether it is a part time job or attending university. The AIS stresses the benefits of having a backup plan in case something happens where the athlete can no longer compete.

Our day at the AIS started with a tour of the facility led by one of their current athletes. The first stop on the tour was the Sportex exhibit. Sportex is a virtual and interactive room simulating specific sport skills.

The tour continued onto the AIS athletic facilities. Typically each sport at the AIC has their own training space.

The volleyball courts have a Taraflex flooring. The Taraflex flooring aides in injury prevention. The flooring absorbs forces and disperses them towards the outside of the court resulting in a decrease of forces being put on the athlete.
This pool is used by swimming, water polo, and synchronized swimming. What is unique about this pool is it has a viewing tunnel along the perimeter. Like an aquarium the swimmers can be seen from underwater. The pool is also equipped with about 50 cameras. The cameras are used to analyze movements of the athlete and to identify corrections needed to improve the performance of the athlete.
A weight room is available for all athletes. Strength and conditioning coaches create programs specific to each athlete and sport.
Next on the schedule for the day was a recovery session. The AIS has an entire building dedicated to the recovery of the athlete after a training session. The facility is equipped with a relaxation/meditation area, floatation tank, warm pool, cold pool, a river, a stretching and much more.
Students participated in a contrast bath treatment. Contrast baths consist of going from a warm pool to a cold pool, alternating for a specific period of time. It is important to finish in the cold pool. 
Students relaxing in the warm pool.
Students freezing in the cold pool.
Pictured below is students receiving treatment with the use of an intermittent compression device. The compression device helps reduce swelling. 

Lunch was eaten at the AIS dining hall. We had two lectures after lunch. The first lecture was taught by physiotherapist. The lecture was primarily on prevention and management of athletic injuries. The physiotherapist discussed specific techniques the AIS uses to prevent injury. One example is they require all of the basketball players to have both ankles taped during practice and games as a way to prevent ankle sprains.
The second lecture was on movement science.  The lecturer explained that there are three subcategories of movement science. They include biomechanics, performance analysis, and skill acquisition. The lecturer discussed how equipment can be used and analyzed to improve the performance of the athlete.
The lecturer then took us on a tour of the movement science department. One unique feature the AIS possesses is an indoor track with eight force plates in a row. Typically facilities will only have a handful of force plates. This feature allows the runners to run normally without worrying about their foot placement.

We also took a tour of the exercise physiology lab. Research is performed on the athletes at the AIS. Studies have been done on anthropometric measurements and altitude differences.Photos were not allowed in this facility. Dinner was done eaten at the AIS dining hall. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Travel Day to Canberra

Hello blog followers,

We got up bright and early to get on the Murrays motor coach bus to travel from Sydney to Canberra.    We had one "comfort stop" which means we stopped for a bathroom break and snack.  We enjoyed some grub from "Macca's" which is the Aussie term for McDonalds.  Then we got back on the bus to finish our ride and a few of us were lucky enough to see some kangaroos in a field.  Everyone fell asleep on our bus ride except for Lisa and our thankfully our driver.

We arrived to our YHA hostel and we were able to check in early.  After dropping our bags in our new rooms we met up for lunch.  We walked to "Grill'd" which had a wide variety of burgers.  One of the biggest differences with Canberra is it's cooler than Sydney.   It looks like our sun bathing days have come to an end for now.  The group parted ways and got to walk around our new area.  During our afternoon break some of us shopped, watched tv and others took another nap.

We had a group  dinner at Guzman y Gomez which is a Mexican Taqueria.  After our meal everyone was eager to go back, get gelato and/ or go to bed.  Overall it was a successful travel day!

May 28

Hello again! Since today was our last day in Sydney it was quite an action-packed day with lots of sightseeing. The first place that we started out was at the Sydney Opera House with a tour led by Paul. Before going to see the Opera House up close I never knew that it was actually two separate structures with a breezeway in the middle. Contrary to the name the Sydney Opera House does not put on operas very often, it is mainly plays, cinemas, and concerts that happen within those giant sails. The design is from a Danish man named John Utzon which ended up being slightly modified over time because of the engineering and stability issues. When people from different countries come to the Sydney Opera House they do a recognition of countries where they have a moment of silence to show respect. Inside there are 3 different theaters named the Playhouse, Drama theatre and Concert Hall. Playhouse is where all the Shakespearean plays occur. This theater is special because there is no wing space up on stage so the directors must plan how they want their backdrops to look and most of them choose to create backgrounds out of lights. Originally when this theater was built it was used as a cinema for showing surfing movies and attracted surfers from all over the continent.
The Drama Theatre is usually used by the Sydney Production Studio. The most unique thing about this theater is the first three rows of seats because they will be covered for shows done by Aboriginal people because they cover their bodies in paint. Another reason the seats are so unique is because they are below sea level and can be removed and the stage that they sit on can either be elevated for more stage space or lowered for an orchestra.
The last theater, Concert Hall, is the biggest one in the Opera House, with multiple decks of seats, is where the majority of the orchestras play and also sporting events used to be hosted here such as a boxing match, sumo wrestling matches and body building competitions. This theater is where Arnold Schwarzenegger won his last Mr. Olympia. Concert Hall is also where they have their concerts because it is the biggest and the acoustics are the best. I think that the coolest thing about this theater is that they will show films and bring in an orchestra to play the score of the movie. At the top of Concert Hall you can see these giant see-through rings which are actually used to better the acoustics and are called Acoustic clouds. Before the building could be finished a new crew was hired and the new manager did not like Utzon so he kicked him off the project and Utzon never got to physically see with his own two eyes his finished project. There is a room in the Opera House that is dedicated to him and the only performers in there are a grand pianists or other singles. The giant painting that is shown at the bottom is hanging in his room and depicts how Utzon saw one of Bach’s songs; for example, the giant black strokes were heavy notes.
         Fun fact about the Sydney Opera House is that during the building of the structure no one was injured even though there was no use of safety equipment or safety harnesses.
         After the tour was done we split off into three groups for lunch and some of us went to the Munich haus for lunch. Once lunch was over we all accidently met back up in the Rocks Markets for one last Sydney shopping experience, with a stop at the Gelatissimo shop for gelato. We all came back around the same time and some of us did laundry while others journaled or went up to the rooftop to read and enjoy the view for one last time. We were all downstairs ready to go to our dinner cruise by 6:30 so we walked to Darling Harbor.

         Once we got on the boat a lot of people were feeling seasick because the waves were knocking against the boat hard. We were not even out of the dock by the time that people started lining up to get their dinner at the buffet. It was nice being a buffet because this way everyone could find things that they would eat and a lot of people tried new things. Once we were done eating you could either sit at the table and continue talking while waiting for dessert to arrive or you could go up on deck and look admire the lights and music from Vivid Sydney. During the dinner cruise the boat circled Sydney Harbor multiple times and had to go back across the bridge a couple of times because the waves were rough from so many boats being in the harbor at one time. After the cruise ended back in Darling Harbor it was just a short ferry ride back into Sydney Harbor. On our walk back to the hostel we could see all the lights in downtown Sydney and the mini displays that were all throughout the city. Back at the hostel we just had to finish up packing to be ready at 7 am to depart for Canberra.

This is Drama Theatre

This is Concert Hall

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 27

Hello followers! Thanks for checking into our adventures for yet another day!

Today we had a free day in Sydney and we were all excited to see the city on our own some more.  Mike and Colby headed out to Bondi beach to surf some more and said it was a great day for waves.  Aubrey, Maggie, Kylie, and Alyssa also went to Bondi beach but stayed on shore to soak up the sun (after a quick nap to recover from the breakfast at 8am).  Lindsey, Emily, Bailey, LeAnna, Lisa and I found some things to do around the city.  We started our day around 11am and headed to Appetito for $16 pizzas.  Restaurants here in Australia do not split the bill so we had to put our heads together to get the bill paid.  After lunch the group split up between the Contemporary Art Museum and the Rocks Market.  Lisa and I chose to go on a free tour of the Museum while LeAnna and Lindsey went at their own pace.  None of us thought the museum was going to be what it was.  While there was art, it was not what we considered ‘contemporary’ and there were not many aboriginal pieces on display (something everyone was excited for). 

After the museum we headed to the observation tower, but were soon disappointed to find that we could not go up into the tower with thongs (what Aussies like to call flip flops) on. So to cheer up our spirits, we went to The Cupcake Bakery.  Most enjoyed just a simple cupcake while Lisa and LeAnna enjoy a cupcake sundae.  After our fix of sweets, us students separated from Lisa and LeAnna.  We walked through the Rocks Market and found some awesome souvenirs for friends and family at home (stay tuned for your gifts). This market was pretty comparable to markets we have in the US.  Merchants were lined up in the streets selling their products but were also willing to change the price if you talked them into it.  The only real difference is Aussies left when they wanted to.  The market was set to close at 10pm, but since most merchants were used to closing up shop around 5pm, that’s what they did. 

Colby and Mike said they went to Mad Mex for a post-surfing meal and took on the 1kg burrito challenge.  Both completed it with ease as Mike completed it in 9 minutes and it only took Colby 16 minutes.  Since they both completed it, they both received masks.  Check the photos at the bottom!

For dinner, a group of us went to El Camino Cantina (I had been waiting for this restaurant all week!!!!).  It’s a little Mexican restaurant in the rocks that had a full menu of tacos.  Since this was the second night of Vivid, there were a lot of people in the restaurant and we expected a wait for that reason.  After about an hour we asked the hostess how much longer it would be and she told us that she didn’t write our name down.  So at that point we decided to head to Pancakes on The Rocks to get some food since El Camino Cantina was not going to feed us.  Everyone ordered some form of pancakes and had variable sides (eggs, bacon, chips (fries), hash browns, potato wedges).  By that point in the night we were all exhausted from our travels throughout the day and decided to head to bed to rest up for an eventful day tomorrow.

Crazy to think we’ve been here for two weeks already! Until next time! 

*I am awaiting pics from those that went to the beach, I will update when I receive those :)