If you’re a student like myself, you are extremely lucky. Not only do you have access to amazing higher education opportunities, but you also have access to out of this world fitness facilities, equipment and classes. If you find yourself stalling or not getting the amount of activity you want (and trust me, you’re not alone in either of those), here’s a list of resources at your disposal to help you to get the most fitness bang for your college buck.
The Student Recreation Center/Gym/Exercise Place
Alright, so these gym facilities have a lot of funky different names depending on which school you go to, but the bottom line is that these are facilities where you can go work out. In order to get in, you need to have a pass. Fortunately, most schools already include gym fees into your overall student fees. So, you should be covered. Once you’re inside, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the equipment. There are all sorts of weight machines, weights, spaces, places, and people making use of all of the above.
It’s very easy to get overwhelmed.
I remember my first time going to the SRC. I was going with a rugby buddy to lift a bit of weights. The two of us were totally put off by what we saw. There were people twice our size curling iron like it was nothing. At first we started lifting weights on the periphery, trying not to attract any attention to ourselves. That was with free weights. Eventually we had to move to the thick of things in order to make use of the machines.
Now my buddy and I knew a thing or two about working out. We had been to a gym before. We just hadn’t been to a gym where we were surrounded by so many people who were our age and who managed to have twice the muscle mass of us.
Nonetheless, when we were using the triceps machine, our form was not perfect. We traded off doing sets for some time secretly knowing that are form could be better, but not knowing quite how. By the time we each got 2 sets in, one of the bigger guys started walking towards us. I thought this is it. This is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m about to get critiqued about my exercise form at the gym. Everyone’s going to laugh. I’ll never be able to come back here again.
The guy comes up and then very politely very gently says something like “Hey guys, I noticed that it looks like you’re putting a little stress on your back when you pull up on the bar like that.” He then sat down in the seat. “That can be bad for your back. I usually aim to pull it like this.” He pulled the bar (very easily I might add, as the weight was probably a quarter of what he lifts on an daily basis). “Definitely a lot less stress on the back that way.”
I was in awe. He wasn’t ridiculing us, but actually politely looking out for us. It’s something I’ve never forgotten and never will forget.
Yes. You spend most of your days in college attending classes, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from fitness ones. At my school you can take spin classes, yoga classes, pilates classes, HIIT classes, and more absolutely free. Well, we pay for them through our student fees, but there’s no additional cost.
You know that situation I mentioned above? About the guy coming to assist my friend and me in a simple tricep workout? That sort of stuff happens all the time in a class because you have someone (usually but not always a student) whose job it is to help you out. When it comes to fitness, it never hurts to accept help, especially when you run the risk of injuring yourself. And I’ve injured myself.
Kickball, baseball, swimming, rugby, water polo, basketball, mixed martial arts, swing dancing, ball room dancing, bangra — your school is chock full of clubs. It’s amazing to think about. There’s a whole group of students on your campus who are dedicated to a particular way of getting a workout just because they enjoy it so much. It’s an amazing opportunity and one you shouldn’t pass up.
Although clubs can get very competitive (oh boy can they get competitive!), they often welcome people of all levels of experience. So even if you’ve never shot a basket, or done a triangle hold, or have even swam, chances are you’ll be able to find a club that will take you in and help you develop those skills. One of the best parts of a club is the social experience. You get to immerse yourself in a group of people who care about the same things you do and who have a vested interest in getting to know you and you them. Some of my best friends in college have been met through water polo and rugby. I can’t recommend one enough.
So you see, there’s no shortage of great ways to get a workout while you’re in school. Make the most of it while it lasts, because once you graduate, that’s it. Not only do you have to start paying for classes and access to gym facilities, but it’ll also be harder to find other people who enjoy the same activities that you do.
In college, we’re spoiled. In a small geographic area we have a bunch of people smushed together who area all relatively the same age, have the same occupation, and who have basically equal access to fitness resources.
We’re spoiled and it’s awesome.