Amidst the cacophonous mixture of clanking metal, student-athlete chatter and bellowing grunts that is strength and conditioning at the College lies the ringmaster: Coach Rob Livingstone, replete with his admonishments to “keep those legs straight” and subtle encouragements of “that’s pretty good form.” Training the College’s athletes, overseeing Lower Lasell Fitness Center and running two athletic facilities in the Berkshires, Livingstone maintains an exhausting schedule even before heading home to his four daughters, all of whom are under the age of six. Such effort is necessary to ensure one’s status as a lodestar of the Ephs’ athletic program.
Livingstone grew up in Moncton, a city in southeastern New Brunswick, Canada. Athletics were an integral part of his life. As a freshman in high school, Livingstone played four different sports, transitioning from volleyball to basketball to hockey to baseball over the course of the academic year. In tenth grade, Livingstone discovered weight training as a means of improving his athletic performance. He carried that interest with him through college at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, where he received a Master of Science degree in physical education.
Livingstone also played baseball at Jacksonville State and volunteered in the campus weight room. After a complete turnover of the football coaching staff, Livingstone got a job as a strength and conditioning coordinator in the athletic department. “I was at the right place at the right time — and I made the best of it,” he said.
“Early on, I learned to design programs for multiple sports,” Livingstone added. “I was also very fortunate to be around wise professionals in my field — mentors who provided me with insight into safe and effective program design.”
Livingstone described training as a comprehensive and meticulous process, one that demands analysis of a specific sport’s “primary movements” and an athlete’s “metabolic demands,” as well as consideration of available equipment. “Our goal is to provide an environment to make training thorough, flexible and engaging for the athlete,” he explained. He often tailors programs to an athlete’s specific needs and skill level, with subtle adjustments made to maximize performance and training efficacy.
Furthermore, Livingstone appreciates the personal — even psychological — elements involved. “If you tell someone something long enough, they’re going to start to believe it,” he said. “It’s our goal as a staff to connect with the athlete, build a level of trust, communicate with them and talk them through the process. It’s going to be frustrating to try to break past that first barrier, but when they do, the sky’s the limit.”
Following his time at Jacksonville State, where he was eventually promoted to director of strength and conditioning, Livingstone had stints with the Clearwater Phillies, a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, the University of Georgia athletic department and as a contracted human performance specialist for professional athletes.
In 2011, Livingstone was named strength and conditioning coach at the College. “I would say the best part is the student-athlete engagement and that we’re dealing with a student body that wants to be successful, that is willing to take that extra step to learn,” he said. “I just wish I could know each athlete more. The relationships I have been able to form over the last six years have been pretty special.”
Livingstone shared that his high school years were integral to his current passion for coaching. “When I was 16 years old, I lifted weights without any supervision or proper guidance, which limited and created issues in my playing career,” he said.
“Even today, though information is so easily accessible, you really have to sift through it to find content that is valid, relevant and that has scientific research backing it,” he explained. “I wanted to provide my knowledge and expertise to help kids do things properly and safely. I feel like it’s my duty.”
Livingstone also founded two athletic training facilities in the Berkshires — the Livingstone Speed Academy and The Cages at the Mill — in order to provide a similar coaching service to the community. “Again, it’s about cultivating these important relationships,” he commented.
Outside of coaching and strength training, Livingstone enjoys exploring the outdoors, going on hikes and woodworking. “But my four daughters are my life,” he said. “I try to spend as much time as I can with my family, to be a good dad and a good husband.”
Additionally, each morning, Livingstone works out before student-athletes enter the gym at 6:30 a.m. When asked about how much weight he can bench and squat today, Livingstone laughed. “I’m 39 years old. I have no idea.”