Fit as a Fresher: Working Out in Uni

Ahhh the first year of uni…making new friends, doing your own washing, food shopping, socialising, exploring, partaking in exploits that you’d rather never recall again- and getting half way through the year before realising that you can’t climb the stairs to the second floor without wheezing like your fourteen year old spaniel when you throw a ball. And even the dog didn’t collapse half way on its journey. Which you did.
But it isn’t completely impossible to stay fit in uni. I am the first to admit that some days I wake up and cannot be arsed to skip down to the gym in the cold, and battle it out for a cross trainer with a blonde in head to toe Nike who could probably drop kick me without breaking a sweat. Never mind the fact that I am actually not allowed in to the uni gym, because I don’t have a “gold memership”. And unlike many other so called inspirational quotes, I am not about to demand you do that either. Working out doesn’t have to be torture, and neither does staying in shape.
I don’t have the time or money most days to respectively spend an hour working out, or invest in a gym membership. What I do have are some at home workout basics, a laptop, and a long walk back from the shops. So, here is how I stay relatively fit and healthy in uni, and how you can too…

    1. Little and Often
    I prefer doing a little bit of work in the morning, and a little bit of work in the evening- if I’m feeling it- in place of two hard core, iron pumping gym sessions every week. To kick off my day I’ll choose a couple of You Tube workout videos, totalling around 20 minutes usually, or a magazine workout. I’ll then walk to lectures, toddle around campus all day, and wander around the city looking at things I can’t afford to buy. By the evening I may then be feeling another mini workout, so I’ll try my hand at a couple of moves for my abs, legs, butt, and arms, or a yoga video. This way I can stay active and energised all day, as opposed to going to the gym, and then spending the rest of the day on the sofa convinced I’m dying.

    2. Do What You Can
    You may hate running, and despise spinning- but have you tried pilates? Zumba? Yoga? There will be some form of exercise out there that you actually love, all you have to do is find it. The exercise you love may change as well, so keep on trying new things.

    3. Work It Into Your Diary
    If I make an appointment with myself detailing exactly what workout I shall be doing, I am far more likely to keep it. I plan workout classes around days when I have my lectures if I can, so that I’m not venturing out just to go to a gym class- because when it’s cold that’s the last thing I often feel like doing. Alternatively, write out on a piece of paper the days of the week, followed by what exercise you will do on each; this also makes it easier to get into perspective what you are doing, ensuring that you don’t spend all your time on you boot-ay, but none on your arm or back strength. Don’t feel tied to this; you can switch the workouts around depending how you feel.

    4. Turn Your Room into a Gym
    You most likely have a laptop if you are reading this. Get on You Tube and search for workout videos you can see yourself doing. It’s much easier to roll out of bed and turn on your laptop to do a workout, than it is to go outside in the freezing cold and run this time of year. Feeling extra workout happy? Make a mini playlist of your favourites to save time looking for them each morning. You can also collect workout videos from magazines to follow- my favourite is a Davina McCaull 15 minute Body Blast workout I found in Body magazine a year or so ago. I invested in a Pilates mat before coming to uni, and stole a pair of unwanted dumbbells from my little brother. They may not be perfect, but they’re mine and they do the job. It means I can workout quickly in my own room, and avoid an expensive gym membership.

    5. Try Classes
    I’ve already mentioned classes, but for anyone experiencing gymtimidation they are a great way into a gym environment. My uni offers classes to silver membership students, which is how I first got into them. Before I had never tried a Pilates, Yogalates, Spinning, Abs Blast, or Piloxing class; I now love all of those classes, and try to work two in to my week if I have the money and time.

    6. Workout to Relax
    When you get in on an evening feeling stressed out, plug in that laptop and go look for Tara Stiles Yoga on the Tube. I guarantee that in 10 minutes you will feel both more chilled, and proud of yourself for having done a little workout. Alternatively, if it’s a lovely day why not go for a walk? I love to go walking around a lake we have near by and listen to the water- it’d incredibly soothing. I sometime make a detour walking to and from uni, in order to start and end my day this way.

    7. Walk- Everywhere
    Essential for students: walk to lectures, walk to meals out, walk the shops, walk back from the shops, walk to the library, to the station to meet your family…I walk 20 minutes uphill with a weeks worth of shopping each and every Saturday morning. You can do it. The only time I don’t recommend this is after a night out, especially in icy/rainy Britain- that’s when you should get a taxi. Especially if it’s raining and your shoes are missing.

    8. Take Time Off
    Just as important as working out is taking time off. Take at least one day where you ease up a bit, if you feel like working out keep it gentle. Some days I’ll wake up and not feel up to a workout, but fancy a bit of a recharge. These are the days that I’ll actually go and do some meditation. No, I am not a new age hippy; there are some great YouTube videos for meditation, and I’ve started doing one each night to get me to sleep, and sometimes I’ll replace a workout with a longer one in a morning. I’ll then shift the workout to the evening, when I feel more awake and ready to get moving.

    9. Get Enough Sleep
    Essential to remain energised enough to stay fit, and also a key part of it; 8-10 hours a night guys, as many nights as you can manage.

    So there you go, my tips to staying in shape at uni. Below, as a little bonus, I’ve listed some of the little ways you can get just that bit more active, almost without noticing…

    • Take the stairs. Each and every time…
    • Go to uni  via the scenic route, if you have a scenic route. I might go through the park to relax me, or take the slightly longer walk through the city to soak up that morning atmosphere…
    • Go to a coffee shop that isn’t in the student’s union- it can be cheaper and those few extra steps add up
    • For each hour you sit at a desk, get up and walk around for a couple of minutes. Do some squats if you’re at home; don’t do squats if you’re in the library
    • Carry as much work as possible with you when you head to the library to study: think carrying dumbbells around all day
    • When carrying shopping back, tense your abs; this strengthens your core almost effortlessly
    • Go feed the ducks. If you have ducks nearby. You have to walk there, and if you’re anything like me will possibly end up getting chased by geese: extra cardio skill points.
    • Clean your room. Top to toe. I’m talking polishing, dusting, hovering, doing your laundry, sorting out folders…
    • Need to print something? Find one of those computers where you have to stand in order to do it.
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