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July 11, 2017

App in training

Computer science senior Santiago Martin used his love for weightlifting and software development to build a strength-training app.

From left to right: Santiago Martin, Eric Hernandez and ICS alumnus Anthony Padua.

When Santiago Martin was looking for a way to flex more than just his muscles, he found UCI. The senior computer science major, who is also a member of the UCI powerlifting team, has thrived since arriving on campus. The university has been a rich space for his mind, body and soul to grow. After two years at Orange Coast College, he transferred to UCI his junior year — and what a year it has been.

Outside the gym, Martin needed an outlet to show off his mobile development skills, so he did what many young techies do these days — he made an app. Merging his love for weightlifting and software design, Martin developed the “Press Strength Training” app in his spare time. The fitness companion app allows users to track their workout routine progress in order to increase their skill levels.

“It was a personal project,” said Martin. “I was looking for something to practice my programming skills on, so I developed an app that made me happy on a personal level.”

As dissimilar as weightlifting and computer science may appear on the surface, there is actually a lot of overlap between the two crafts: Both require technical precision in order to hone skills and reach maximum potential, and just like any sport skill, the more you practice, the better you became. The same adage rang true for “Press Strength Training”.

After a slow release on Android, Martin returned to his “virtual gym” and focused on perfecting one aspect of his app at a time — just as he would focus on increasing his squat, bench press or deadlift. After fine-tuning his app and increasing his marketing efforts, Martin released “Press Strength Training” on iOS. Only two weeks after the launch on iOS, Martin saw more downloads of “Press Strength Training” than he saw after five months on Android.

“It’s been incredible,” said Martin. “I couldn’t have imagined how well this release is doing. I have to thank the UCI team; they gave me a lot of support during beta testing, and the newest version has even blown up within the team.”

Martin had been lifting for five years before becoming a member of the UCI powerlifting team. He originally turned to the team because his hobby became boring, and he was looking for way to bring back the fun rather than giving up on the sport he loved.

“By joining the UCI team, I’ve not only added the excitement of competition, but made some incredible friendships and received amazing support,” said Martin.

There are even fellow computer science majors to train and compete alongside him. Last month, the UCI powerlifting team competed in the Smash Weight Open in Vista, Calif., where Martin took second place in the men’s junior 165-pound division.

UCI Powerlifting Team at the Smash Weight Open in June.

In his spare time, you can find Martin and his dog, Machito, cruising the Southern California streets in his Jeep Cherokee. But don’t bother looking for him locally this summer because he’s in Seattle interning at Amazon.

“UCI has been pretty cool,” Martin said, looking back on his first year as an Anteater.

UCI has also quickly become a Santiago family tradition, with Martin’s older sister graduating in 2015 with a criminology degree from UCI’s School of Social Sciences.

— Katherine Li Smith