Growing up, I’ve always been “sedentary” type–always dreaded gym class; still afraid of volleyballs. So, the entire first year of my undergrad, I avoided the gym like the plague. I did go swimming at the AC occasionally though, not because I understood the necessity of exercise, but because in winter I missed the feeling of floating around in water.
In second year, my friend introduced me to the elliptical machines at Hart House. Until then, I didn’t even know that Hart House had a gym! Since I’ve always felt slightly self-conscious at the AC (or just easily lost in the building), acquainting myself with the gym at Hart House changed my exercise routine completely. I became much more pro-active at maintaining a good routine, and began to look forward to the feeling of loosening up after an hour of good sweat.
For those of you who are not so exercise-inclined, I can tell you that I owe half of my undergraduate life to the Hart House gym. It was there for me when I suffered bad heartbreaks, when I couldn’t sleep well due to exam stress, and of course, it was there for me when I needed to mentally escape the typical student’s chaotic life but had no money to go to California.
Below, I’ve listed some of the good stuff that the Hart House gym offers.
(“What about the AC,” you ask? Don’t get me wrong–I love the AC. The place has three pools, including an Olympic-sizer located on the main floor, a giant multilane indoor track encircling four recreational courts, a Strength and Conditioning Centre for weight training, and not to mention tons of programs and drop-in classes available. But always, I find myself at Hart House because of its easily accessible location, its calming and laid-back atmosphere, and its beauty. Keep in mind that there’s also the recently renovated Varsity Arena, whose track was visited by the three-time Olympic Gold medalist Usain Bolt this summer.)
The Hart House Gym
- Getting there: As you walk past the double doors of the main building entrance, you’ll see the help desk or The Hub straight in front of you. Without proceeding any further up the few stairs leading to it, make a quick turn to your left, down the flight of stairs. At the bottom of the staircase, make another left turn, and then a right, then just follow the corridor as it will lead you to the fitness help desk.
- You will have to leave your student card at the fitness desk before proceeding to the change rooms. Before this summer, it used to be that students would leave their cards there in exchange for a lock. Now that locks are no longer available to you, after your workout, remember to pick up your student card on your way out! Also, remember to bring your own lock.
- You can get Towel Service: $60 for September to April, $40 for one semester, or $2 per visit (you must go to the Hub at the main floor for this)
- Fitness facilities and pool schedule are found here.
- A list of classes (registration required) offered by Hart House can be found here. These are different from the classes offered at the AC.
- After you change into your workout clothes (the gym has a policy to not let you in if you are wearing jeans), exit the change room through the same door, but this time make a sharp turn to your left where you’ll be led down a narrow corridor and then to a flight of stairs leading to different workout facilities on different floors. If you are unsure of where to go, follow the crowd and maybe even explore a bit! The help desk is very approachable as well.
- The machines (elliptical, treadmill, spinning, rowing, weights) are all located on the top floor, as are the track and basketball court. If you want to use an elliptical machine or treadmill, but notice that all are occupied, go to the white board that’s located in the centre of the room and write down your name and current time under either “Cross trainers” or “Treadmill”, and erase it when one becomes available to you. The maximum time people are allowed on machines is 30 minutes, and this includes warm-up and cool-down.
- After your work out on these machines, remember to spray it down with soap water (plastic white bottles with a spray nozzle) and mop it dry with one of the small white towels provided for you.
- In the change room, there is a scale where you can weigh yourself (I do this sometimes, but the results are usually depressing), as well as a mini-dryer for wet items like your bathing suit.
The best thing about Hart House is that, depending on the time, after your work out, you can take small break at the Hart House Library, or head over to Sammy’s Student Exchange for some excellent food!
As a student, I know how hard it actually is, to make that time to physically get up from your chair, pack some gym clothes, walk over to a gym, then proceed to make yourself sweat for a prolonged period of time. But truth be told, while exercising for half an hour might seem to take up a huge chunk of your day, it may very well be the one activity you do on any particular day that requires, relatively speaking, the least amount of time for all the benefits you would obtain from it. Remember, your health is the foundation for your success at school, and should not be neglected.