After naively buying a platinum membership to get access to classes, I was excited to get started on my quest for fitness at the Russell Seal Fitness Centre. I never considered myself a gym newbie – after all, I frequently visited my (tiny) local gym and also took part in classes such as Circuits and Zumba – but when I entered the campus gym for the first time, I soon realised I couldn’t have been more mistaken. I was not only overwhelmed by the scale of the gym and the machines (exercising muscles I didn’t even know I had), but also by the sea of already fit men and women in barely-there, lycra gym clothes.
After speaking to older students I was told that Synrgy was a brilliant workout
Trying to hide my nerves, I foolishly headed to machines I’d never experienced in my gym at home. In fact, my main memory from this first gym visit is of not understanding the mechanics of the assisted pull up machine. After awkwardly clambering onto the machine’s knee pads, I clattered straight down to the bottom of the machine, completely unable to pull myself back up. Rolling off onto the floor I looked up to see people staring straight at me and hiding their laughs. Feeling suitably embarrassed, I then noticed men lifting my whole body weight in the free weights section, women showing their flexibility with their legs in positions I never knew were possible and equipment that I couldn’t even begin to understand. Consequently, I decided to not visit the gym alone again to avoid further embarrassment.
After speaking to older students I was told that Synrgy was a brilliant workout. Feeling determined to finally conquer the gym, I was ready to start the class at midday. Much to my surprise, it was this class that helped me the most in getting used to the gym. The instructors took me through each exercise, gave demonstrations and ensured I got the most out of the workout, but most importantly built my confidence in the gym!
This is not to say I’m a gym expert. After a month here I still look around and wonder if I’ll ever be able to get my leg above my head when I can’t even touch my toes. Nor will I ever understand why a foam roller is an essential part of every workout, but at least I can now enter the gym without falling off a machine!
It’s a rainy Devon day during first term and you’ve just emerged from four hours of lectures. You see a girl – sports stash head to toe – stride past you on Forum hill on her pilgrimage to the gym, and you wonder how she does it, while stumbling back to your accommodation to order something greasy from Deliveroo. University leaves little time or energy to squeeze fitness into your schedule of naps, clubbing and eating, but here’s how to prioritise fitness in your diary, and maybe even beat the Freshman 15 while you’re at it.
Stop torturing yourself with burpee after burpee at the gym if it makes you feel like you’re constantly at risk of falling on your face. Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore: there are plenty of exciting – and obscure – fitness experiences to try, especially at university where there seems to be a society for everything! Take a look through the Guild website or fitness classes to try something new.
Integrating your fitness and social life will not only hold you accountable if you flake out on sports training with your team, but you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. Tucked away in an isolated corner of the library with only your textbooks for company, studying can be a lonely task and, without noticing, soon days can pass before you realise that your only social interaction has been with the cashier at Costa, who gives you compassionate grimaces every time you get another coffee. If you combine your time for exercise and socialising, you won’t get the survivor’s guilt of ‘wasted’ time sat around chatting, and you’ll suddenly find exercise to be a lot more enjoyable! Team sports are great for this, and a wonderful way to make close new friends.
Integrating your fitness and social life will not only hold you accountable if you flake out on sports training… but you’ll be killing two birds with one stone
your mum won’t nag you to write things on the calendar
When your parents dropped you off at Uni, somehow you transformed into an ‘adult’. This means that your mum won’t nag you to write things on the calendar: you need to organise your own time. With this freedom comes great responsibility: when organising pres and laundry days, schedule in your exercise for the week, too. According to the NHS, it’s advised that you do 150 minutes of physical activity per week, so divide this up and plan it out to make sure you hit the minimum time sent to keep yourself healthy. Got a three hour library sesh planned? Follow it up with a brisk half hour walk around the city. By doing this, you could also fit in some healthy meal and snack plans, too! Yes, when in the library it’s easier to want to buy six £1 sharing bars of Dairy Milk all for yourself, but pack some nuts and fruit in advance.