After a whirlwind summer of backpacking through Europe, sleeping on overnight trains, and pushing my body past its limits on grueling bike rides in the Italian Alps, I arrived at U of T slightly dreading the school year. I cringed at the thought of late nights spent on my butt, eyes glued to my computer screen, overdosing on Diet Cokes while picking at sour jujubes. Something needed to be done. Urgently.
I came up with what I thought was a master plan. A “New School Year Resolution” as I called it. I’d sample as many campus activities as possible in hopes of getting fitter, discovering a hidden talent and meeting new people. I would prove that even on a budget, students really could “live the dream.”
My first stop was the Athletic Centre. I figured it to be the hub of student recreational activity (since this visit, I’ve learned that Hart House has just as much to offer). After picking up a drop-in fitness schedule, I dreamed of how worldly I’d feel doing exotic-sounding classes like Nia, Zumba, or Ashtanga Yoga…whatever they were. I flipped through an Activity Guide, and wondered if I had the guts to try middle eastern belly dancing, fencing, or trampolining. So much to choose from, so little time!
Maybe I got too ambitious, so determined to do everything that I became overwhelmed when I tried to squeeze it all into my schedule. Whatever the reasons, by mid-September I realized my plan failed miserably. I sincerely apologize to all the adventure-seekers out there who had hoped to be inspired. I am disappointed in me too.
Disheartened by the fact that my mission to transform my student experience would likely be replaced by extended-hours sessions at Robarts, I started thinking about why it’s been so hard to fit “fun” into my schedule. Isn’t maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle vital to my success as a student…so why has it been so difficult to achieve?
I wracked my brains. I’m motivated to go to class, study, and get my readings done because my marks would suffer if I didn’t. I realized that I needed someone, or something, to drag me off my butt and whip me into action…
Luckily, last Friday, a friend convinced me to go “Frosh Fit,” a free drop-in fitness class which runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the Athletic Centre. It combines circuit training with education on both fitness and nutrition- the perfect bootcamp to turn my resolutions into realities! So, I got reacquainted with my neglected sneakers and shorts and found myself standing in the brightly-lit dance studio with six other fitness newbies and an energetic instructor, ready to sweat.
During the workout, we squatted, crunched, skipped and lunged at stations with a partner, alternating between 30 seconds of weights and cardio intervals. “Go! Go! Go! Three more,” the instructor belted, in the most cheerful tone possible. Thankfully she was not the drill-sergeant-type fitness instructor I fear. My partner, on the other hand, an impressively fit, middle-aged staff member, shook his fist at me when I flopped on the mat during push-ups. Just the work-out buddy I needed to kick start my routine!
After the class, we met with a nutritionist for an hour. She taught us about the importance of eating “nutrient-dense” foods as opposed to “empty calories” (so, for bread that means seedy, whole-grain or brown beats anemic, bleached and white). It made me realize that I need to start packing my lunch to avoid satisfying my mid-day cravings with over-priced, calorie-packed muffins or greasy (yet delicious) pizza slices.
Motivated by how energized I felt after the “Frosh Fit” session, I immediately headed to the Athletic Centre office to check out other activity options. Staying faithful to my plan to try something new, I signed up for a Tae Kwon Do class. Sure, I had to put a little coin behind the commitment, but that might motivate me to actually go.
The first session is tomorrow night! I am feeling a little nervous, wondering what I am getting myself into (What, by the way, do I wear to such a class?) But I am also excited to learn a new sport. Check in next week and I’ll let you know what it was like! Maybe I’ll find that hidden talent after all!