Altitude Control Technology Installed At NAU Student-Athlete Facility

Athletes on Northern Arizona University's nationally ranked cross-country team will benefit from a new controlled altitude training environment.

The new Student-Athlete High-Performance Center at Northern Arizona University (NAU), one of the country’s most innovative athletic training facilities, has installed technology from Altitude Control Technology (ACT). The solution enables NAU’s athletic trainers to manipulate the effective altitude within the 77,000-square-foot facility to simulate different elevations in order to maximize physical training.

NAU is situated at approximately 7,000 feet of altitude, and many of the university’s student-athletes leverage the well-known advantages high-altitude exercise and training can offer. This is particularly beneficial to NAU’s cross-country, track and other endurance sports teams, which are consistently nationally ranked. Now, NAU athletic trainers and exercise scientists are leading the industry and research fields by exploring new ways to train elite collegiate athletes, including simulating sea-level and even higher altitudes for different types of strength, recovery, and endurance workouts. ACT’s technology enables the athletic staff to easily set the desired elevation in the new 2,000-square-foot altitude chamber, and within hours the athletes are able to train in a completely different environment.

Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University Student-Athlete High Performance Center. (Photo: Matt Winquist / DLR Group)

“Only a handful of NCAA athletic facilities have altitude training capabilities, and we’re thrilled to be one, as now we are on the leading-edge of new research exploring the physical benefits of sea-level and variable altitudes for athletic performance,” said NAU Athletic Director Mike Marlow. “We explored numerous options for altitude simulation and the modern, flexible technology from ACT was the best solution for our Student-Athlete High-Performance Center due to its simplicity yet robust technology capabilities. Coupled with our nutrition counseling, strength program and expert staff, we know the altitude simulation environment will enable a whole new student-athlete experience.”

ACT technology is installed much like heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. Using a simple touchscreen similar to a smart thermostat, users can adjust the room setting to the desired altitude, and the system automatically and seamlessly recalibrates the oxygen and nitrogen mix. ACT is capable of creating a lower indoor altitude setting in mountain environments, where high-altitude can significantly degrade the sleep quality of visitors or even create serious illness. It is this unique ability to lower the altitude in virtually any facility, residence or hotel that sets ACT apart from standard oxygenation systems, and will come into play for NAU.

“NAU is on the cutting-edge of sports training and we are eager to partner with them as they research new ways both sea-level and higher altitude training can benefit athletic performance,” said Bill Sinclair, President, ACT. “Athletic training and research are a few ways ACT technology is used to provide a healthy, comfortable environment for people no matter what altitude. We look forward to watching the NAU Lumberjacks student-athletes thrive with their new altitude simulation room.”

ACT has been in business for more than 20 years and has implemented its altitude simulation technology in more than 400 luxury residences in virtually every high-altitude ski area in North America. The company has also worked with dozens of universities, military, and athletic organizations to create altitude simulation environments for research and training.