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.

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Finding Fitness at U of T (Without Joining a Single Organized Sport)

When I entered university, I was determined to take advantage of all the physical fitness resources available and undo the drastic drop in athleticism that had occurred during my teenage years. In grade six, I had found joy in doing laps at the U of T Athletic Centre pool every weekend. However, when puberty hit, and sports teams became increasingly ‘exclusive’, I grew self-conscious and made every effort to skip out on gym. Throughout high school, I only voluntarily participated in two sports: fencing (a one week long U of T summer camp) and archery.

Girl practicing archery

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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.

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Getting in the door: Overcoming barriers to participation in physical activity

I’ve realized I’ve done you all a great disservice by not expanding the perspective from which I write. I’ve recently come to appreciate just how easy it may be for me to engage in physical activity on campus compared to some of my peers. So this year, I vow to do my best to step out of my shoes and into some of yours.

To start, I asked what prevents students from participating. With help from my peers and the people of Reddit, I’ve become aware of a few big hurdles…

Nobody likes to be the new kid. Being new at the gym can be incredibly unnerving. I can totally understand that. Gym culture these days is hard to avoid and it seems to be growing increasingly garish.

White and grey text on a black background reads "Set some goals, then demolish them."

The community can be a little intense sometimes.
Source: goodmorningquote.com

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Beating School Stress this Week…Kapow!

For those of you taking Summer courses, you know ALL TOO WELL how quickly the course materials go by and before you know it finals are here (…then again, it feels like that during the Fall/Winter courses but y’all know what I mean!). One of my favourite things to do on-campus is to hit the gym, stressed or not.

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Drop-In Skating and Exam Prep (Already?!)

I’ve been feeling a little-more-than-a-little subpar recently. I’m not sure if it’s the weather or a change in routine due to injury or just everyday stressors, but I don’t like to hang out in ruts like that. Last Friday served as a nice little pick me up, thankfully. I finally made it out to drop-in skating at the Varsity Centre!

I regret that I didn’t take pictures, I was consumed by how good it felt to be using my legs after making my arms so terribly sore at aerial silks. I’ve been less active recently and I think that might be contributing to my lousy mood. Skating with a good friend helped! I went on Friday from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon and it served as a nice study break. Skate rentals are available for only $3.39 (debit/credit only) and entry is free with your T-Card of course! It wasn’t very populated, which I really appreciated. I definitely recommend checking it out, especially if you’re looking for some space to make some mistakes (I sure am!).

Source: www.macedoecunha.com.br

Source: www.macedoecunha.com.br

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It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows: How to Prevent and How to Care for Injuries

The human body is a remarkable construction. It’s strong, powerful, capable and — unless you’re me — resilient more often than not. With all this talk of being physically active and trying new things, I thought it was time for a post addressing risk, how to minimize it and what happens when despite your best efforts you find yourself injured.

While I’m not a doctor [insert moment of silence here], I feel I have sufficient experience to speak about this subject. I have the joints of someone far, far older than twenty paired with a “can’t stop won’t stop” approach to life. That combination isn’t particularly risk-reducing.

So, here are 4 tips to risk reduction in sport — coming from someone who needs all the reduction she can get.

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Feature: MoveU Crew!

This week I thought I’d shed some light on how to get involved with physical activity on campus in an administrative role. I met with the MoveU team to talk about what they do, how they got involved and what they love about being a part of the team.

But first: What is MoveU and what does the team do? Well, in their words they “do so much!”

“The breadth of what we do is so broad because we promote health on campus and being physically active,” says Alcina Wey. Fellow work-study student, Naomi Maldonado, adds, “We try to promote physical activity in alternative ways. A lot of people assume that if you’re not working out you’re not active, but we try to make physical activity accessible.”

As volunteers, the MoveU Crew supports and leads events. They interact with students, make them feel comfortable and get them involved at events. Continue reading

Finding my Flow and my #JoyAtUofT

Hi team!

“Happiness is not for the faint of heart”. These are words I remember from a life-altering lecture I attended this past August.

Over the summer I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Fitness Professionals conference, a multi-day event with the biggest names and faces in the fitness and health industries. With hundreds of educational sessions, workshops, and classes to attend, it was a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in new ways of thinking, moving, and being healthy.

My favourite speaker of the day, Petra Kolber, spoke at a panel discussion titled “Mind Before Muscle” and again in her own lecture called “The Happiness Epidemic: Catch It If You Can.” As a fitness professional and positive psychology guru, Petra introduced me to a concept called FLOW. This term describes the moment in time when time disappears, when we are challenged in a way that matches our skills – when we are in what we often call “the zone”.

She explained that being in a state of FLOW is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves to contribute to being happy. Happiness, she said, is not a steady state, but something that we have to train ourselves to achieve. She recommends a minimum of two hours of FLOW a week as our basic training exercise.

Finding FLOW, or recognizing the activities that bring me peace and joy, is something I have been trying to identify ever since. Whether or not I appreciate them as FLOW-inducing exercises, there are tasks that I complete in my daily life that make me feel whole.

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“Little Victories” and Where To Find Them

You’ll never guess what I got to do last weekend. I took a stunt fighting seminar! We have a Jiu Jitsu regional event every few months and last Saturday’s regional welcomed Lori O’Connell from British Columbia.

Lori O’Connell is a 5th degree black belt in Can Ryu Jiu Jitsu and a professional stuntwoman! Move over Ronda Rousey (former UFC champion), I’ve found a more suitable role model.

Source: lorioconnell.com

Source: lorioconnell.com

It was AWESOME. Best decision I’ve made recently. We practiced different aspects of stunt fighting and then choreographed short stunt scenes and filmed them. I picked up a signed copy of her book When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-Jitsu Strategies and Tactics for Self-Defense afterward, which I’m super happy about.

Trying new things has been bringing me a lot of pleasure lately. I think it’s largely due to what I’ve coined as “little victories.” Continue reading