Alyssa-Joy Spence

Alyssa-Joy Spence

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Is it a good idea to combine powerlifting training and stretching? That’s the interesting question Alyssa-Joy Spence is investigating for her PhD research.

“My research is looking at the relationship between strength and flexibility. Before I came to AUT as an international student from Canada I was a yoga teacher. I had experienced the benefits of yoga for myself and for my students, and I really enjoyed it.

“Several years later I was introduced to powerlifting and began to train for that as well. As I became more competitive in powerlifting, I began to wonder if doing yoga or stretching in general would impact powerlifting training.  Should I continue to do both, and should I recommend stretching to my fellow powerlifters? I looked for research on the topic and discovered that there really wasn’t much information at all. So I decided to look into it myself.”

Alyssa’s research is being supervised by Professor Mike McGuigan and Dr Eric Helms from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation.

The right move
Her supervisors were the reason Alyssa started the long journey from Canada to New Zealand to complete her PhD in sport and recreation.

“I came to AUT for my doctoral supervisors. I knew what I wanted my PhD topic to be, and was then looking for the right supervisors to guide me throughout my doctoral degree. I found them at AUT.”

The people she has met throughout her studies at AUT have been a highlight for her.

“I love the people here! So many of them are friendly and helpful. I’ve had the dream team of supervisors, and I think anyone would be lucky to get to work with either of them.”

Highly recommended
She would highly recommend AUT’s postgraduate sport and recreation programmes to other students, says Alyssa whose studies have been supported by an AUT Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship.

“I’ve had a great experience studying at AUT, despite the major disruptions of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Throughout my studies, I’ve made great friends, been given the opportunity to help with other people’s research and also got to do some coaching in the on-campus gym.”

Now in the final stages of her studies, she already has a good idea what her next step will be.

“I’m expecting to submit my PhD in October this year and graduate from AUT in 2022. My next goal is to hopefully teach and coach powerlifting.”

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