How do they do it? Juggling academics and athletics

As a campus tour guide, I receive a lot of questions surrounding student life and whether a school-life balance is something one can expect to manage at the renowned U of T.

Seeing everyone’s defeated, exhausted expressions on campus, I thought it’d be a good time to share some of my tips and tricks of the trade that have helped me to juggle three jobs, three sports and a full-time course load.

A drawing of a woman with many outstretched hands to juggle different life responsibilities.
Disclaimer: I don’t usually look quite so glamorous while doing it.

1. Sometimes you need to downsize. Sure, juggling five balls looks really cool but if you’re exhausted and you’re about to see them all fall to the floor, consider whether you might be able to take one out of the equation. I know it’s hard, we’re very ambitious students and we prefer to be able to persevere and to succeed without giving anything up, but I encourage everyone to critically evaluate whether the cost is worth what you’re gaining.

Take an active break! : A small gym exercise routine

October is a terrifying time of year – and that has nothing to do with Halloween. I have never before been so overwhelmed with things that need doing/studying/writing. But we’ll get through this… right?

I’m kidding of course, we always do and we will again – that thought has always been helpful to me when I’m swamped and feeling hopeless.

When there’s so much to be done, it can be hard to squeeze in some physical activity. As many of us live in residences and apartment buildings with small exercise rooms, I thought I’d put together a simple small gym study break as a perfect addition to my self-care routine!

Try 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises for a fast, full body workout between textbooks!

Annette is shown in 3 stages of a pushup.

Skating Level I at Varsity Centre

Last week, I started my skating class at Varsity Centre. I LOVED it.

In addition to registering for the class, I registered to rent skate – which I’ll have access to every week for the hour I spend in class. I haven’t put on a pair of my own skates in a long time, so I imagined any pair I could dig up at home would be four sizes too small. I really appreciate the option to rent because not only is it inexpensive ($20 for the duration of the class) but it also means I’m not lugging skates to and from campus on top of my course materials.

When I got to Varsity Centre, I swiped my TCard and made my way to the arena (a familiar route, having attended a couple of MoveU skating events there already).

This is the entrance to Varsity Centre where you swipe your T-Card.

It wasn’t long before I ran into my coach, whom I identified right away (she was wearing a big headband with the word “SKATE” across the front so… lucky guess). Shannon later explained that what she was wearing was a concussion headband with significant padding to protect her head. “Cool!” I thought.

Well, That Was a Lot Harder Than it Looked: Circus Silks @ U of T

I walked into my first circus silks class at the Athletic Centre last Friday pretty confident (largely due to the fact that I found my way from the AC change rooms to the Lower Gym in the Benson building on the first try).

Essentially the layout of the Athletic Centre and, of course, University College. Good luck. Background Source:
Essentially the layout of the Athletic Centre and, of course, University College. Good luck.
Background Source:

I wasn’t arrogant — I know I know nothing about aerial silks, but the instructor asked if I had done anything similar or notable and I mentioned that I’ve been coaching gymnastics for over five and a half years and used to do aerial yoga.

This is aerial yoga. 10/10 would recommend. Even if just for the awesome Instagram photos you’ll get out of it. Source:
This is aerial yoga. 10/10 would recommend. Even if just for the awesome Instagram photos you’ll get out of it.

Sports and Recreation at UofT: A Second Look

Like most U of T students, I’m proud to be one. People like to call us pretentious and I like to argue there’s a big difference between being pretentious and being justifiably proud. We boast top 20 spots on lists of the world’s best universities and I’m “sorry I’m not sorry” that gives me the warm fuzzies.

While we excel as an institution overall, according to (contributor to the Huffington Post), our sports and recreation programs are less well known.

Clearly something’s wrong here. We have a wealth of sport and recreational facilities, services, activities — there’s a lot going on here! We have FOUR athletic centres (if you count Varsity Centre), FOURTY-FOUR men’s and women’s varsity teams, the ONLY Olympic-sized pool in the city, a wide variety of registered and free classes, drop-in recreation, a FANTASTIC, SUPER-AFFORDABLE sports clinic open to students, more playing fields than I’m aware of and SO, SO MUCH MORE.

The Barbell Prescription: The What, Why and How of Weight Training

So much cool stuff happens on campus all day every day. It breaks my heart that I literally don’t have the time to go do and see and hear everything.

On Tuesday, I went to a free seminar that was held at Hart House called, “The Barbell Prescription”.

You know it’s going to be a good one when you’re already taking notes and salivating over the guest’s credentials.

Dr. J Sullivan joined us from Michigan. A former US marine, 3rd degree black belt in Karate, 3rd level Krav Maga practitioner, doctor, researcher… The guy received a $2 million research grant from the NIH… that’s the National Institutes of Health. It’s a big deal. On top of all that, he owns, manages and trains clients at a gym called Grey Steel, for aging adults.

Dr. Jonathon Sullivan
Dr. Jonathon Sullivan Source:

We started off talking about what we considered an “athlete”, how we’d define the word. I learned a little bit about Greek athletes (the word athlete comes from the Greek “athlos” which means contest or feat). Apparently there was an athletic event in the Greek games, “Hoplitodromos”, which was a race in full battle armour. Competitors in the games had to swear an oath to Zeus that they trained for a minimum of 10 months. Awfully specific for so many years ago!