Spring Thaw

Spring is coming very quickly this year!

Spring is like a sunrise in the East and it feels like a new beginning. Spring is also a time for revitalizing, rejuvenating and getting back to basics. It is a time for first steps. First Nations House Elder-in-Residence Andrew Wesley is giving a teaching about Omushkego Cree Naming Ceremonies for babies on March 26th, one of the first great steps in a child’s life!

For me, springtime is the signal to take off the heavy winter jacket and defrost myself. I start with physical defrosting. Winter requires rest and more eating, so gobbling up more goodies over the holiday is totally natural but it can leave you feeling a little rusty once the weather starts to warm up. This beautiful weather means it’s time to get the running shoes out and get active!

A tiny yellow toy race car with a goofy face parked in front of a real car on the road in front of University College

Do you feel rusty, or are you ready to rev your engine??? (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I love exercise. Ever since I started getting fit in 2011 (I dropped 100 lbs. by the time I reached my peak condition) exercise has been a key part of my life.

A huge view of the green foothills and a small town in a valley, with the Rocky Mountains in the background

I took this picture while on a morning jog up the big hill in Cochrane, AB, 2012. (Photo by Zachary Biech)

It can be incredibly hard to get in shape. Trust me, I know. However, motivating yourself to exercise is related to so much more than physical fitness.

A row of treadmills and stationary bikes

Do these machines make you want to run away? (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Exercise releases tension in your body, and also creates positive emotions in your brain. I’m always happier when I’m exercising regularly. In addition to boosting your energy levels so you can function better in everyday life, exercise also boosts your mind. Your senses are heightened and your thoughts are clearer and deeper.

A cloth image of a spirit bear

Exercise is like a bear spirit: it heals and has immense mental powers (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Spirituality is also connected to fitness. The simplest example is music. I always need good tunes when I’m at the gym and my relationship with music is very spiritual. Exercise also makes me think much deeper about my own musicianship. See the reciprocity? Your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual areas all help each other out. It’s amazing how big the impact of fitness really is!

I’ve started hitting the gym again this week and the boost couldn’t come at a better time; I’m about to get hit with the end-of-semester test/assignment avalanche so I’ll need the energy to push on through!

A ridiculous sprawling pile of recipe cards with citations on them

Some debris from the last essay…don’t even get me started on how many sticky notes went along with these! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I start with a warm-up run. They can be exhausting if you’re still building your cardio capacity and they can be mind-numbingly boring if you’re on a treadmill. I always compensate by listening to my favorite Van Halen albums at full volume. You can watch movies or TV too if you have a tablet.

The control panel of a treadmill

Get running’! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Follow that with weight training. I focus on one area like upper-body or legs, per workout. It’s important to give each area a rest for the best results! Don’t forget though, you can work your abs every day.

An odd-looking weight machine

What strange contraptions are these?? (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I choose weights that are heavy enough to make me sore, but light enough that I can comfortably manage them. I always do full extensions when lifting any weight and I go slowly. By doing those things, I get the best exercise from each repetition. The only way I know how to make progress with weights is to go until I can’t possibly do another lift. That way, my body knows its limit and responds by building bigger muscle to prepare better for next time. The body adapts and is very smart!

A triangular weight rack

Tower of power (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Follow your gym trips up with lots of high-protein foods, like cottage cheese or chicken, and you’re good to go! Don’t work out too hard and take rests when you need them. Don’t give up either; your fitness is worth every moment!

http://www.athletics.utoronto.ca/recreation.htm

http://harthouse.ca/fitness/

http://physical.utoronto.ca/facilitiesandmemberships/Athletic_Centre.aspx

 

Commuter Appreciation Week

Over the last few months, I have been helping to plan a Commuter Appreciation Week. This is the first time all the commuter Heads from all 7 colleges have come together to make a university-wide event. We united to become the Off-Campus Students’ Association. So, yeah, we’re pretty much trailblazers. Where’s our Nobel Prize?
Our poster for Commuter Appreciation Week.  It starts this week! It's a very pretty yellow poster with some impact lettering!

Nah, I’m just playing.

Nevertheless, it’s been a lot of work. Although, we had an awesome team, so, it was easy to joke about Jersey Shore  and be productive at the same time.

A screenshot of a our Facebook group name. "The popular commuter kids." Very funny.

I promise I didn’t name the group.

I’ve literally had more meetings scheduled than class hours last week! I take that as a good sign that I’m properly easing my way into my 20s.

But it was all worth it because Commuter Appreciation Week starts this week! We have lots of events planned, and more importantly, each event will have food and refreshments. A commuter’s second occupation is pretty much being a professional free food scavenger. Or is that just me? Who knows?

Anyway, here’s a brief breakdown of our events!

MONDAY: Pancake Brunch at Victoria College! 

TUESDAY: Off-Campus Workshops at Trinity College
AND a Ginga Fitness class at Trinity College!

WEDNESDAY: Food galore at New College!
AND an Open Mic Night at St. Michael’s College!

THURSDAY: Salsa and Waltz tutorial with the UCLit at University College!

FRIDAY: Movie Day at Innis College!

Come out guys! If not for the free food, come to see my beautiful (just go with it) face!

Like our page for updates, and check out the event page for more details!

Congratulations and Celebrations

In one of my favourite classes here at U of T, we learned about something called reflective practice. It’s essentially the process of looking back and learning from our experiences. Now that we’re smack in the middle of finals, I’ve been having those “when will we ever actually use this in real life” rants. To keep my morale up I’ve decided to actually apply what I learned in school (!!!!) and be reflective about 2014! How fitting considering this is my last blog post of 2014!

I’ve had the busiest but most rewarding summer of my life, working three jobs while doing summer school. I was a more active part of the extracurricular scene at U of T, joining the executive team of several clubs I was interested in during first and second year. I’ve also even managed to fulfill some of my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions by bringing my grades up, staying more organized and eating healthier.

Picture of tupperware with veggies sitting next to chocolate on the desk

(That last one’s still in the works. But hey, there’s still 3 weeks left of 2014. And miracles can happen.)

But the point of reflective practice is to highlight what I learned and what I could do differently. So what have I learned this year?

  • I’ve learned how to write a killer blog post (All credits go to Tricia!!)
  • I’ve learned enough yoga to strike a perfect yoga pose for pictures
Api and Aviva doing yoga poses

Me and fellow Healthy U Crew member Aviva striking some poses at Unplug Fest. Photo Credits to Carly Michelle!

  • I’ve learned how to get A’s on papers
Photo of api holding a Paper with "A-" written on it

See! I wasn’t lying!!

  • I’ve learned how to plan events to help people get more involved!
photo of tables set up in Hart House East Common Room for Global Health Expo

Throwback to Global Health Expo!

I realize that all these lessons equate to one thing:  I learned how to step out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone has always been with a small group of friends and a small range of activities, but 2014 was the year I made an effort to explore new places, try new activities and meet new people! If this whole process has been me breaking out of my shell, then 2014 was just the first crack! Here’s to 2015 being another year of great experiences! But there is one thing that was the most important thing I’ve learned this year:

Screen capture of tweet by @Api_UofT reading: "Winter in Toronto went 0 to 100 real quick"

I’ve perfected the art of bad drake puns

Congratulate yourselves on the accomplishments and celebrate the victories! Let me know about your year, your holidays or even just how your day is going down in the comments! Happy holidays, and happy finals everyone! Remember, you might actually be able to use some of that knowledge in real life (lol).

Food for Thought

Food can be the best part of the day. I’m easily distracted by good eats. If you’re like me an ugly pile of tasty stuff can brighten up life instantly. But fancy meals are also fun, especially with friends.

A cookie sheet with nine golden pastry pockets with the letter Z cut into each one

These are a ton of work but definitely worth it: home-made turnover pastries with beef and sautéed vegetable filling. They also have my signature right on them (Photo by Zachary Biech)

First Nations House holds all kinds of fun feasts in addition to hosting lunches every Friday in the kitchen. The first major one is the Fall Feast on October 10th. Friends, food and fun all in one? I think that kitchen and I are going to get along very well indeed…

Looking outwards from the back of the First Nations House, with a large coffee machine on the right and a countertop and sink to the left

The coffee alone is enough to draw me in to the FNH kitchen (Photo by Zachary Biech)

http://i.imgur.com/0xBDi0R.jpg

I’ve lost a lot of weight since the summer of 2012, and I now know eating well is vital. It starts with treating food like fuel. What goes into your body can give you power, but can also gunk things up. You wouldn’t use diesel in a gasoline engine right? If it ain’t good for my system, I ain’t interested.

A Pink Lady apple, with two halfs of a turkey and cheese sandwich on Italian bread with all the veggie fixings, plus some chunks of a blueberry granola bar

Very typical lunch at my apartment (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Also, how much is on your plate is just as important as what is on your plate. I follow a simple rule: half the plate should always be vegetables or fruit. Always. Add in some daily exercise and poof, just like that, I lost over eighty pounds. No fancy program, just good habits.

A plate with one quarter filled with beef roast, one quater with golden scalloped potatoes, one quater with roasted carrots, and one quater with baked green beans

Mmmm looks tasy; but notice the proportioning as well (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I’ve noticed university students have a hard time eating well. I think it’s the huge workload combined with cafeterias filled with sugar and fat. It’s very easy to say to yourself, “I’ve got no time. I’ll just grab some convenient comfort food and chow down real quick.” To avoid the freshman fifteen, I always found the tastiest, healthiest things in the cafeteria and proved to myself that it’s actually very easy to eat properly in university. What works for me: recognizing that greasy or sugary stuff will not fuel you properly and actually make things harder. Brains need the good stuff!

I’ve also found home cooking to be a source of salvation. In my apartment, I exercise complete control over the foods that surround me. Thus, I have a kitchen stocked full of my favourite grub, and there are no bad fuels in my cupboards or refrigerator. It’s a win-win.

A pile of potato pancakes, sliced banana coins, and two rings of red pepper with fried eggs in the middle

This is an easy, fun breakfast: Russian-style potato pancakes with egg-in-a-hole red peppers (Photo by Zachary Biech)

A picture looking over a bar counter into my little kitchen, with me standing in front of some baking ingredients

Me, doing some culinary hocus-pocus (Photo by Claudia Dessanti)

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring new recipes. Cooking is one of my favourite hobbies. I’ve got a repertoire of healthy, funky recipes, and no longer need the fatty, sugary junk. These recipes are super easy and provide a lot of leftovers. My favourites are the simplest ones, like rye biscuits or stroganoff.

Two golden-brown biscuits next to two two crepe-like creations topped with fresh blueberries

Those are rye biscuits on the right, and Russian blinchiki on the left (Photo by Zachary Biech)

My hand with an over mitt on, the thumb of which is burnt to a crisp

This is what happens when you touch the element in an oven…your thumb lights on fire like a torch (Photo by Zachary Biech)

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/rye-biscuits

http://natashaskitchen.com/2011/04/03/marias-russian-beef-stroganoff/

I love sharing what I cook with others, and I enjoy having meals with friends. It’s a great time for connecting. If you’re like me, then you’d enjoy Friday lunches (or even just stopping by for coffee) at First Nations House. It’s great for socializing, trying good foods and sharing your favourites. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the dinner table can be the heart of friendships. Now enough talk, let’s eat!

What’s your staple go-to meal for busy times?

What’s your favourite food to share?

A bowl full of creamy beef and eggnoodles all mushed together (also you can see a sleepingbag in the background from the move-in process)

The first meal I ever cooked in my apartment: It’s an old family recipe and my staple go-to meal, which we lovingly call “eggnoodle concoction”
(Photo By Zachary Biech)

http://utsu.ca/food-and-clothing-bank/

http://utsu.ca/goodfoodbox/

Finding A Little Balance

If you could only tell one story about yourself, what would you tell? Is your story long, or short? Deep, or lighthearted? How would you break the ice?

I’d start with an introduction: My name is Zach and I’m in my third year at U of T, in the undergraduate Public Policy and Governance program. I also minor in Aboriginal Studies and Russian Language, just to keep things interesting. I’m from Calgary and more used to mountains and meadows than I am to towers and transit. Some of my ancestors were Cree and Russian. These roots guide my story.

Pathways through the trees.

Sometimes you find yourself in need of a guide, and that’s actually a good thing (photo taken by Zachary Biech)

But I’d go beyond the basics. I’d include other parts of my life, to paint a better picture. In short, my story needs balance. Actually, my story is about balance.

I’ll start back in grade school. I think I’ve always had some mental balance. I always found time to work hard for my marks. Don’t get the wrong idea, I had time to goof around too. In class. In front of teachers. Oops.

Before grade twelve, I lacked physical balance. I’d get home from school and eat a whole pizza sub or two for a snack. I wasn’t a shining example of athleticism. But after recognizing this imbalance, it was easy to change my ways. Ok, not that easy. My calves burn just thinking about the exercise regimes. Finding the willpower to eat healthy was even harder. Thankfully, I dropped over eighty pounds. It’s great although I miss binging on chips and milkshakes.

Next, I landed in Toronto. Imagine you’re an alien visiting another alien world even crazier than where you’re from. Now you know how I, a small-town Albertan, felt in big, bustling Toronto.  After wobbling around in this immense place like a goofball for a year, I read the writing on the wall. I needed emotional balance. Over the second year, I dealt with every emotion known to man (and maybe some unknown ones as well) and came out on top. My goofball score dropped dramatically too. I think.

A view out over the Bow River Valley in the foothills of southern Alberta

My old view from my home in Alberta (photo taken by Zachary Biech)

Toronto's impressive skyline on a bright clear day, from 18 floors up in a tower

My new view from my Toronto apartment (photo taken by Zachary Biech)

Afterwards, I still lacked something. Maybe you’ve felt the same way like you need to complete your soul’s inner circle. Profound, right? I simply realized I needed spiritual balance. So I worked up some courage, embraced my heritage, and dove headfirst into Toronto’s Indigenous communities including U of T’s First Nations House. Engaging was easy and I received the warmest of welcomes.

The vines and trees just outside the First Nations House building

Just outside First Nations House (photo taken by Zachary Biech)

Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual balance were vital for embracing my Indigeneity and finding my personal, academic, social, and spiritual center at U of T. I even enjoy my other interests more fully, like music and cooking. If I could only tell one story, I’d talk about balance to show my perspective. But luckily, I have much more to tell! I also like listening and I think we can have a great time storytelling together.

How balanced are you?

If you could only tell one story about yourself, what would you tell?

Looking straight upwards at the big blue sky, through foliage and campus buildings

Finding centre at U of T is not as hard as you’d think; you just need to know where to look (photo taken by Zachary Biech)

 

Trying new things (on my feet)

When I decided to do this series of blog posts about trying new things on campus, I knew that it would come to this. Until this weekend, I had never been to a gym. I’ve only ever been in the Athletic Centre to write exams, and I suspect I’m not the only one.

With my badminton MVP certificate in grade 10. See, I was athletic once!

With my badminton MVP certificate in grade 10. See, I was athletic once!

I was pretty active in high school as a member of the badminton team, which involved four practices a week and regular games. But when I moved to Toronto for university, this all fell by the wayside. I knew that I wasn’t good enough to continue playing competitively, and my racket stayed in my closet instead of joining me for intramurals or a casual game.

Honestly, I think this had something to do with the fact that I prided myself as “not being into sports” while growing up. I was more interested in academics and music, and my lack of enthusiasm for all things sweaty differentiated myself from the people around me. It became a habit to choose staying in with a book over going out and being active.

I definitely understand the value of getting up and moving around. I know the health benefits. I feel how much more energetic and focused I feel after going on a long walk, the one form of physical activity I do often engage in. So, I decided to take advantage of free access to the Hart House gym for National Health and Fitness Day on Saturday. Time to get over my fitness inertia!

Rather than venturing onto the exercise equipment on my own, I decided to participate in one of the drop-in classes offered over the course of the day. I didn’t know much about Zumba, but had heard it was a lot of fun (my grandma takes classes in it and learned “Gagnam Style”!), so I decided to give it a shot. It’s a work-out that incorporates “dance and aerobic elements” from styles like hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa and more. So basically, a bunch of things I have never tried before!

The Hart House gym. via harthouse.ca

The Hart House gym. via harthouse.ca

The class took place in a room with a giant mirror on the wall, which at first was a little intimidating. I felt a little bit out of place since it was apparent that many of the other participants knew the choreography and were rather good at it. I tried my best to focus on following the moves, listening to the music and, most importantly, trying.

Much to my surprise, it worked. While I probably still looked like a complete beginner, I was able to lose myself in the music and have fun with it. After rehydrating myself and resting for 10 minutes at the end of the class, I definitely felt the endorphins kick in and felt alert for the rest of the day. Success!

I don’t think I’ll become a gym regular overnight, and my legs were definitely sore for days afterward. But hopefully this experiment will motivate me to get on my feet more often. I’m excited to give it a try.

Progress

From last September until now, I’ve made progress.
I acknowledged my penchant for lying around, and I made solid goals to get myself moving. I also reached these goals and am currently in the process of reaching others. I completed two registered classes. I became a lover of both the plank and pirouette. I went to the gym and tried trampoline dodgeball. I took a few walks here and there in the good ol’city of Toronto. I was up for any challenge.

I took risks.
I became less self-conscious.
I’ve made progress.

From my first post to this very lost post, I made the leap from being inactive to active. And throughout my journey over the past eight months, I’ve learned that my body can do amazing things. I can jump, run, stretch, twirl, and lift. Becoming physically active helped me ease into the idea that it’s not about how I look, or what societal convention that I can fit into. It’s about what I can do and how I can move freely and be healthy.

There were some days when I admit I did nothing. But I also found a way to pick myself back up and get moving again. There were also days when I remembered that by being active, I will actually get more things done. I would go to a Pilates class, and then be able to focus on my studies. Productivity needs to come from some sort of activity in order to get the momentum going.

 

We made it. VIA FIREBONES.TUMBLR.COM

 

Now that this blog is ending for this semester, all I can say is that we are in the homestretch. It’s exam season, and we can conquer this! With essays/assignments and tests, it’s easy to just slip back to old habits. My books might be calling me to hole myself up in my room for days end, but I refuse to give up on my hard work. After all, being physically active isn’t a temporary goal, but a lifestyle.

Here’s what I’ll be doing for the remainder of exam season to keep my lifestyle goals in check:

1) For every half hour of studying, take a 5-10 minute break and stretch.
Keep that blood circulating!

2) Hit the gym twice a week, either before or after library visits.
Exercising is now officially the best friend of studying. It’s a win-win situation for conditioning both the mind and body.

3) Try a drop-in class one a week.
Since registered classes are finished, I plan to keep myself going by heading to the Athletic Centre and trying out a drop-in class that’s new to me each week. Adding spontaneity will help with my studying, as I will be able to break away from a monotonous routine of burying my head in the books during exam season.

4) Explore a bit of Toronto!
I need to refresh myself and get out of the campus bubble. I want to take advantage of the fact that the weather is now nice enough for average human being to not turn into an icicle. Therefore, I should start walking around the city again and go on adventure mode away from the campus.

5) Take a rest, and relax.
Treat yo’self. No explanation needed.

We all start off as beginners, but as time goes by, we change. As for me, I’m always looking for something new to try out—that’s the best habit I’ve developed this year.

 

A dance of celebration. VIA GIF-DATABASE.TUMBLR.COM



I’m getting the hang of this. I can totally do this.

Are you ready exam season?

-Amanda

Being Graceful 24/7

I’ve been going strong with my ballet classes at the Athletic Centre, but I can’t believe I’ve completed a semester of pirouetting. Honestly, it still has not hit me that I will no longer be going to the dance studio every week to practice my dance moves—however, that doesn’t mean that the dancing has to be over!

Over the course of the semester, I learned to incorporate one of the toughest type of sports into my daily life. I practiced the art of strengthening my core by correcting my posture while in class, I kept up with my planking, and I stayed faithful to my warm up stretches. When I was not in the dance studio, I tried my best to incorporate every graceful aspect of ballet in between dance classes. Now, I call that discipline.

I remember attending my first class and having to depend on looking at the wall-length mirror for guidance as the instructor called out positions. Now I feel as if I’m on autopilot when it comes to going from one position to another—it’s slowly becoming second nature to me.

1st position, feet are angled opposite from one another while touching at the heels.

2nd position, feet are still angled opposite from one another, but this time a few inches apart.

3rd position, one foot is placed in front of the other while still angled opposite.

4th position, same as 3rd position, but this time a few inches apart.

Are you noticing the pattern here?

Last but not least, the 5th position, where feet touch each other again, but heel to toe.

Dancing does not have to be an optical illusion. -VIA MOILLUSIONS.COM

See, I got this. And I’ve improved with each class!

With practicing straightening my posture while in and out of class, I’ve also found myself focused dancing gracefully. I decided to look at my participation in ballet as something more than just physical activity. After all, ballet is both a sport and an art form. As time went by, I learned that balance within my core is key when trying to perfect the plié and tendu. I found myself more in-control than ever and I’ve been able to twirl around the dance studio with a little more self confidence. Most of all, I’ve been able to relax while going to this class, which was much needed considering how exam season is here.

I started this class with sore feet, but I think I’ve been able to toughen up after all of that practice.
I’m never going to be a professional ballerina, but hey, one can dream.

One can dream though! -VIA 5-SECONDS-OF-IDOLS.TUMBLR.COM

What have you done to prepare yourselves for exams while staying active?

—Amanda

To Prospective MoveU’ers

Right now, many high school students are looking at their offers of acceptance and making big decisions. Part of that decision is considering what a university has to offer, lifestyle-wise (hey, university is more than just academics).

Staying active is crucial to your university experience. So to any of you prospective student readers out there, let me share with you some of the best aspects of U of T St. George campus.

The Athletic Centre
Ah, the good ol’AC. If you’re looking for a gym to work out in, or to take drop-in and registered classes that range from Parkour to Pilates, you’re covered. This place is legitimate — there is a dance studio (which I am currently taking ballet classes in), a 50-feet Olympic pool, field house, spinning room, weight room and various other rooms filled with brand new, and top of the art exercise equipment, you can spend days exploring this behemoth of a building.

Lo and behold, the Athletic Centre. VIA PHYSICAL.UTORONTO.CA

The Athletic Centre is also near another behemoth — the concrete peacock library of our time, Robarts. Need a break from studying to go work out, or vice versa? The buildings are about three minutes away from each other. How convenient to your academic and athletic career in university!

Does it not look like a peacock though? VIA SCE.LIBRARY.UTORONTO.CA

Hart House
Personally, the fact that you can be able to say to people that the gym you go to is in a castle-like building adds more cred to what Hart House is. People call this building Hogwarts for a reason: tons of stairs and arched windows. Although this gym isn’t as spacious as the Athletic Centre, it’s a gem on the U of T campus. I love the coziness of the small weight room, and the fact that the running track is just above the gymnasium, where many drop-in and registered classes take place. Most of all, it’s located at the heart of the U of T campus, and which makes it easy to travel to.

Ye olde Hart House. VIA HARTHOUSE.CA

MoveU Passport/Co-Curricular Record

The University of Toronto has introduced the co-curricular record, which is a transcript that keeps track of your activity and participation on campus. How can I build my CCR, you ask? Participate in extra-curriculars, work in jobs on campus, and take part of CCR-recognized events and programs, such as the MoveU Passport. The MoveU Passport, as I explained in my previous post, is an initiative where taking part in weekly MoveU events and getting active will count toward your CCR. Past events held by the MoveU Passport include Dance Conditioning, Table Tennis, and many more in this drop-in schedule! I don’t know about you, but having a flawless CCR is another reason worth going to the gym for!

The best part about all of these places and programs?
You’ll be able to meet people and make new friends through being healthy and active on campus.

Cheesy, but it’s true!

If you prospective students want to ask any questions about MoveU, feel free to ask away in the comment section!

—Amanda

 

Pirouette is the new plank

Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to try out ballet. The graceful movements, spinning, and endless pirouettes inspired me. I wanted to learn how to dance like that. So I was thrilled at the beginning of this semester when I discovered the ballet class being offered by the Athletic Centre. I had to sign up!

No big deal. VIA COEURGLACE.TUMBLR.COM

Classes like Zumba and Nia are dance-like programs offered at gyms all around the Toronto area. Yet, for an instructional class like ballet, I thought the only way to take a class was at a dance studio. After researching online, I realized that both the Athletic Centre and Hart House have dance studios that offer many distinct fitness classes—even ballroom dancing!

The dance studio at the AC. VIA PHYSICAL.UTORONTO.CA

As I have mentioned in the past, the only group fitness classes I’ve taken at the gym were stretch-based like Yoga and Pilates, or cardio-based ones like Cycle Fit. So I didn’t know what to expect. However, once class began, my nerves went away and I became excited at the prospect of starting something new.

Following along with the dance instructor was easier than I thought. At some moments, I would stumble and fall out of place, but at this stage in my journey I’ve learned to laugh that off. I was ready for the challenge.

While I allowed my mind to wander while taking part in stretch-based classes, I quickly learned that in this class, I really had to focus. Ballet, quite like Yoga and Pilates, demands attention to posture and position at all times, but is even stricter with accuracy. If anything, this class teaches discipline by repeating moves again and again until they’re perfect. If the instructor saw someone struggling with a move, she would help them and if you were doing it right, she would let you know. It was encouraging to have the instructor praise you when she saw you nailing a move spot on. Hard work does pay off!

I tend to shy away from competitive sports, so I found ballet to be right up my alley. While you’re learning your steps, you’re also collaborating with the rest of the group. Everyone wants everyone else to do well. After all, a crucial part of dancing is for everyone to flow together. Near the end, all of us in the dance studio were prancing and twirling, but somehow we did it in unison. After only one lesson, I felt quite proud of myself!

After class ended, I left the warm AC building and walked back into the typical icy weather.
Once I got back to my room, I started practicing my ballet moves. Last semester, I tried to master the plank in between my Pilates classes. This semester, it’s the pirouette.

Have you tried any new fitness classes this week?

—Amanda