Not Your Typical Dodgeball

Reflecting back on my school years before university, I realize that I had a love/hate relationship with physical education class. I loved it during my elementary years because gym class often meant little more than playfully hiding under a gigantic rainbow parachute. But with high school, came the beep test, where students would have to do a certain number of laps and drills in a short amount of time… in a nutshell, it is probably the worst creation by the kinesiology gods. But the “fun” sport that I grew to love/hate most was dodgeball. It was scary and aggressive, but also thrilling and rewarding—especially for the winners!

Last week while doing my usual search for local Facebook events, I found an event link posted on the MoveU Facebook page that was UTSC PACE-sponsored. UTSC PACE stands for Physical Activity Coaches & Educators. I hung out on the UTSC PACE Facebook page to learn more about the event. When I read the word “dodgeball,” I thought to myself, “hmm, that sounds interesting.” But then, after reading more, I found out that was not just any dodgeball, it was trampoline dodgeball. Even though I have never been to the UTSC campus before, I didn’t let my lack of tri-campus knowledge hold me back. I was determined to jump on those freaking trampolines. So off I went!

What I loved off the bat was that there was free transportation to the Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park from the UTSC campus. The UTSC PACE crew also gave us free refreshments (“free” is one word that will never cease to amaze me). Once we arrived at the park, the realization that I didn’t know anyone coming into this event hit me. And I think the crew at UTSC PACE predicted that there were going to be a lot of students like me attending this event, which was why the mixed the group of over 50 plus students around and separated us into teams of virtual strangers. From that moment on, I was no longer “the loner kid who didn’t know anyone.” I was delegated to the blue team and we all had to find a way to make our team work while getting to know one another.

If only human sized pop bottles were such a thing. VIA GIFBIN.COM

The first few tries on trampoline dodgeball were overwhelming. Each zone was split in half with six trampoline pods on each side (one for each player on the team), along with side trampolines on the wall. Although it sounds easy, it was actually quite difficult at first. The trampolines were so bouncy that I had to find a way to become more agile to allow myself to turn around and aim my ball at a target. Nonetheless, I still had fun just jumping around and pretending that I was levitating (because that’s a childhood dream of mine). And I wasn’t alone, because while my team spent time getting the hang of playing dodgeball on trampolines, we kind of wiped out the first few times. However, we found a way to work the system midway through. Once a new game would start, we would alternate in each pod in zigzags while switching around. When one of us got out first, no one groaned at them for leaving early. Instead, we worked hard to catch a ball so that we could bring that member back in the zone. And our technique worked. We won our last game!

Lo and behold, the Skyzone Centre. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Lo and behold, the Skyzone Centre. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Afterwards, we were given the option to join around different mixed teams for more games, or to explore around. I decided to play trampoline basketball, and lived my dream of doing a slam dunk after five failed tries (yes, even with the assistance of trampolines). I also jumped into a foam pit because, hey, what’s a zone full of trampolines without any foam pits? It was hilarious to watch people jump in, get stuck, and champion their way out.

Yours truly, stuck in a foam pit. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Yours truly, stuck in a foam pit. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Even though I can be shy at times, I loved meeting fellow students beyond the St. George campus. I felt more connected to my university as well. It was refreshing to know that a lot of people agree that jumping on trampolines is fun, and that it’s a form of exercise for the kid in us. Also, aside from realizing a love for trampoline-related events, I’m now interested in tri-campus events. So I’m excited to see what else will come up this school year!

And yes, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, I probably have reached a new record in writing the word “trampoline” the most times in a student life blog post.

—Amanda

Halloween: Fight or Flight?

When I think of Halloween, I think of a holiday based on horror. But a holiday based on tackling my fears? Not really. However, this year, I bit the bullet and decided to attend MoveU’s Halloween event, Scary Skate. Yes, I took the name of this event quite literally; ice skating isn’t exactly my forte.

I’d rather do this than skate. –VIA SOULFULSOCK.TUMBLR.COM

I know. Despite all the free skating, free rentals, free refreshments, all the free glory, I was still trying to find a way of getting out of the event. I mean, the weather was kind of rainy, and my common room was warm and cozy, and practically told me to sit on the couch and watch TV for the night. However, I knew that if I backed out, I would regret not giving myself a chance to try to tackle my fear. It’s thrilling to take a few risks once in a while, and just remind myself what I can do. And again, the event was free, so there was nothing to lose.

Despite the rainy weather, I walked to the Varsity Centre. Since “free” is practically a magic word for the university student, and ice skating is (surprisingly, in my opinion) a harmlessly fun past-time for many people, Scary Skate was quite full, so I ended up having to wait for a while until I finally got to put on my skates. While waiting around with a few friends, I watched some students skate on the rink. There was one girl doing a triple axel, and two people were falling down repeatedly. I instantly knew who I was going to be when I hit the ice.

Alright, show off.. –FIGURESKATERXOX.TUMBLR.COM

When I did get on the rink, let’s just say that I spent the majority of the time grabbing on to the boards, while doing a little skating here and there. Most of my energy was spent on screaming or laughing every time I managed to skate free of my friends’ arms or the boards. The thing about skating is that in order to balance, you need to have a strong core. Even though I barely skated without support, I managed to avoid falling face first onto the ice when I did let go. This feat, my dear readers, is probably due to my new found friendship with planking and the core strength I’ve developed as a result!

Planking is a wonderful thing that will protect you from this. I think.. –VIA SENIORGIF.COM

Afterwards, I decided to hit up Victoria College’s Halloween pub night, instead of watching TV, because I felt energetic about the fact that I actually got on the ice. I wanted to reward myself. At the pub, I talked to my friend, who is also a spinning instructor at the Athletic Centre, about my time at Scary Skate. After telling her how it was a sort of a struggle for me, she told me that she also leads a skating class every Friday morning (um, how does this girl find energy?). She offered to teach me how to properly skate one-on-one at the Varsity Centre next time. I’m also planning to drop by the Athletic Centre for another spin class because what else is friendship for but to support one another? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve found that it pays to talk about where I’m at in my journey for a more active lifestyle. Just talking about what I need to improve on helps to make my change feel real, especially if I’m surrounded by active friends willing to encourage me.

So ice skating is a work in progress, but Scary Skate was nonetheless fun! I enjoyed goofing around and not being serious with friends (while they showed off their spectacular skating skills). Most of all, I like the inclusive mood at MoveU events, especially since I’ve been getting into a rut with my lone exercise routine. After all, you can only do so much planking alone in your room.

Anyway, next week, on November 6th, MoveU and UTSC’s PACE team are hosting a tri-campus event: dodge ball at Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park. It’s only $5 and transportation will be provided, as well as free food and equipment. I’m sorry, but I have to repeat: Trampoline Park. Free. Fun time guaranteed. I’ve never been to a tri-campus event before, so this is going to be another “risk-taking” task that will call on me to conquer another fear: getting over my shyness. But, this is going to be at a trampoline park, and nothing is going to stop me from going.

I’m going to bring my game on next week. –VIA GIFBAY.COM

Since I’m tackling a fear each week, I dare you, fellow readers, to do the same. Perhaps I’ll see you at the trampoline park?

— Amanda

The Jolly Season of Midterms

Oh midterm season, that dreadful time of year when everyone hides in their rooms or at the library, with their heads buried in their textbooks, forgetting that they ever had a social life. As a second-year student, I know the drill now. But nonetheless, I’m still worried because each year, the work becomes harder. This time around I don’t have any exams, which I am glad about, but I have two papers and two presentations to complete. At U of T, no one escapes midterm season scot-free; there is always something to study for.

The thing is, I know that I won’t get anything done when I’m stressed out; I put things off until the eleventh hour. And even though I’m probably going to leave one of those assignments for the classic do-it-all-in-one-night style (hey, it’s a student tradition), I still want to be, and to feel, at the top of my game. So, at the start of the week, I made a list of goals to keep my head in check:

1. Go to the gym at least once alone and once with a friend (maybe this is how I can be social again).
2. Keep attending Pilates classes.
3. Between reading a chapter, or writing a paragraph, stop and stretch for relaxation.
4. Take time to do the much appreciated “treat yo’self.” Seriously.

Parks and Recreation had this right all along. –VIA SPIFFYPOP.TUMBLR.COM

When it came to actually completing my to-do list, I was running short on energy, but still managed to reach these goals.

1. Gym?
I was aiming to be one of those “I-wake-up-at-6:00AM-to-go-to-the-gym”-types of people, but this week was devoted to night time exercising. Also, it was easier to go with a friend at night since we both had an evening class together. Even though I wasn’t active during my planned time, I was still being active nonetheless. After all, the most important part was that after returning back to my room, I was calm enough to be able to sit down and focus on my readings.

2. + 3. Doing Pilates + Practicing my stretches
I attended my Pilates class, but it was a struggle. I fell behind on practicing my planking, which I’d made a pact to perfect since last week. The night before Pilates class, I stayed up until 4:00AM doing readings and editing a paper. I woke up early  all groggy and exhausted. In retrospect, staying up so late (or early, if you’re a grim thinker) wasn’t the best decision, but I didn’t want that mistake let me skip my Pilates class, and cause a chain reaction for the rest of the week. So I went!

And you know what? When I left the AC after class, I felt revived. I was still drained from the lack of sleep, but I was calmer, and had more patience to carry on with the rest of the day. Also, I did manage to slip in some time to practice the plank afterwards.

Don’t pull an all-nighter. Your eyes will punish you for it. —VIA GIFGARAGE.COM

4. Time off + Motivation
Also I did manage to take time to achieve number four on my list, that “treat yo’self” task that I promised I would do. After completing my first presentation, I decided to take a hike to a cute café in Kensington Market. There I lounged around while sipping some blueberry honey tea. It didn’t hurt that the café made a great place for me to study at the same time.

And another thing that’s helping me to get through midterms that didn’t make my list? Making plans to join in on fun events. I realized that I needed some extra motivation to push through my never-ending pile of assignments. Most of all, I need the balance that being social brings. There’s an upcoming MoveU event coming up, Scary Skate, on October 31st. Also, it’s free, as in free to attend, with free refreshments, and free skate rentals—as a university student, I am shameless to say that free is my favourite word. Although I guess in this case, free comes with a cost, since I have a fear of skating. But I’m curious to try it out. And if I can survive midterms, then I’m confident that I’ll survive giving ice-skating another chance.

Even this goat can skate better than me. –VIA 4GIFS.COM

So now, it’s your turn to tell me dear readers. What have you been doing to keep active (and survive) this midterm season?

Ready, Set, …Wait, I’m Not Ready to Go

With frosh week gone (along with my voice and inability to stop turning day-to-day conversations into cheers #froshleaderproblems), it’s time to get on that back-to-school grind – that is, if you can first wrap your head around the amount of hard work and dedication you’ll be undertaking for the next 8 months. For the past two years, I’ve made the mistake of assuming that the first couple weeks of school was nothing I should take too seriously. If anything, they’re arguably the most important time to plan out your academic year.
The key to not falling behind is to start by getting ahead. And so, for your ease (and because I know you’re all busy jumping the gun on those readings you already have assigned… right???), here are several ways to help you stay on top of everything before midterm season rolls around and you realize you still don’t know all of your professors’ names.
  • Figure out where – and when – your classes are. Simple enough, right? Believe it or not, I have friends who went the whole year without memorizing their timetable. Knowing where and when you’re going to be occupied during the week makes it easier to plan out meetings for extra-curriculars, telling your boss your availability times, and finding out the fastest ways to get to places you need to be.
  • The UofT Bookstore is just one of the many to look for anything you need for school. Check TUSBE, an online student exchange where you can buy or sell textbooks and notes to other students, or even Amazon to see if they hold cheaper prices. Ask professors and course coordinators if old editions are allowed – it will usually save you a ton of money in the long run. Save on stationery by hitting up all the back-to-school clubs fairs for free pens and other nifty things, as well as a free student planner from UTSU. Laugh all you want, but that’s, like, $15 I’ve saved that I can now spend on Food Truck Fridays.

    Always double check if certain textbooks are actually required or are optional and supplementary. (Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/Lazy-College-Senior/)

  • Actually bother reading your course syllabus. Mark down your assignments, quizzes, midterms, labs – any assessment you might have – on any calendar you might use and plan your year out ahead that way. Make an abstract study plan for yourself and check up at the end of the week if you’re up-to-date on knowing certain concepts or material that you’ll be tested on soon, saving you the trouble of falling too far behind and having to cram a month’s worth of material the night before.

    3AM delirium while attempting to catch up on your readings and notes will do this to you.

  • Get enough sleep while you can! Seriously. Because if you’re anything like me, three weeks down the road you’ll be slaving away at Robarts past 11PM wondering why on earth you didn’t just use all the free time you had at the beginning of the year to catch up on your ZZZs, instead of staying up until two in the morning watching reruns of every sitcom imaginable. I’m aiming to start building a healthy sleep schedule by having a consistent routine of what time I go to bed, so that waking up the morning of a midterm is less of a pain, and making it to my 10AM class is still a plausible concept.

    Every time. (Source: http://thesimpsonswayoflife.tumblr.com/)

  • Last but not least, see your friends – strengthen bonds with new ones, reunite with old ones – spend time with them before the year gets too hectic and you begin to feel guilty about either not studying or having to postpone plans.
If you have any other tips on the best ways to start off a new school year, tweet them to me at @Katrina_UofT (don’t forget to hashtag #StartUofT!). I could honestly use all the help possible to get rid of this urge to bask out in the sun on Front Campus to work on my tan. With all that said, do try to enjoy the sun as much as possible and ease yourself back into things! Until next time, fellow students – have a wonderfully productive first week back!

So that’s how the pros do it..

Have you ever watched professional athletes on TV in awe, wondering how on earth their bodies could be so fast and strong? Watching them amazes me, and I’ve often wondered what goes on behind the scenes – what do they eat? How much rest do they need to recover? It’s made me think about my own exercise and health habits… Are there specific foods I should eat after a hard workout? Do I really need to stretch? Am I drinking enough water?
Well, earlier this week I learned about all of this and more, thanks to the Hart
House Recreational Athletics Committee
.  They hosted the seminar “Keys to Recovery and Regeneration” featuring Dr. Greg Wells, an established human physiologist and assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (FKPE) here at U of T. I’m glad I got there early enough to snag a front row seat with my friends, as the room was packed!

Source: Hart House Recreational Athletics Committee Facebook Page

The lecture was very interesting and informative – Dr. Well’s didn’t talk just about exercise or training, but about how other key factors can influence our performance as well. One of the first things he mentioned was how crucial it is to constantly hydrate your body throughout the day. He also talked about how food is essentially our fuel and that we need to replenish our bodies with the right stuff – lots of whole foods!

Source: bbc.co.uk

Along with proper nutrition, Dr. Well’s emphasized getting enough sleep and de-stressing our minds as well as our bodies. Unsurprisingly, these are areas where many of us busy students often fall short (myself included!). But as he explains in this video, taking a little bit of time out of our day to meditate, do some yoga, or walk through a park can really benefit our health and well-being in the long run.

This was the first time I went to a Hart House Recreational Athletics Committee event, and I’m looking forward to attending more seminars. If you missed out, you can connect with Dr. Well’s and check out some resources via his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Also, March just so happens to be Nutrition Month, and to celebrate the FKPE is hosting some FREE talks on nutrition and exercise in the upcoming weeks! The one on Friday, March 15th will be all about healthy eating habits, and Monday March 18th will focus on proper nutrition for exercise/sports. Check out the Facebook event for more details!

-Lesia

PS: Once you hit up the links and events I mentioned above, there’ll be no more excuses to skip exercise – and that’s exactly what the MoveU Crew wants to hear this month! Every Tuesday they will tweet an excuse NOT to work out. And they want students to tweet back (#Excuse Eraser) their excuse-busters for a chance to win some cool prizes! If you aren’t on Twitter, no problem – you can find out more details on Facebook too.

Take advantage of FREE rentals!

I’ve been pretty good this year with trying out new things and exploring more of the athletic facilities on campus, especially the AC. I thought I had seen it all – I’ve explored every corner of the field house, mustered up the courage to check out the SCC,
and have even been in the dance studio. But, I’ve realized that there are still places that I have yet to discover in that big sporty building.

I think this realization hit when I heard Sarah raving about how much fun she had distressing with squash. She and Chris hit up the courts at the AC a few weeks ago to give squash a go. Aside from the tennis lessons I have been taking since the start of the semester (which have been really fun… my serve is getting there!), I have had zero experience with racquet sports. So I was like, “squash?! What is this all about? And more importantly, um, where exactly are these squash courts??

I still gotta try out squash in the AC!

I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but Sarah’s gonna give me a lesson in squash 101 before the end of the semester. In the meantime, I’ve done some investigating of my own on the AC website. And what I’ve found is that there are also lots of other cool sport facilities available for student use, FREE of charge. I think the only reason I haven’t really checked it out before is that you usually have to book the space ahead of time, which takes some planning; and well, you kind of need to coordinate with someone so that you have a buddy to play with!

But no more excuses – I’ve sorted through all the details to make things super easy for ya:

Badminton, squash, table tennis, and tennis courts
Using your T-card, you can book the space one day in advance in person at the main office, or by calling 416.978.3436. If the only thing stopping you is that your friends all bailed, no worries! You can actually add your name to a list in the main office if you’d like to be contacted by other badminton or table tennis players looking for a partner. And as for squash, you can join the U of T group on SquashOrbit to get
connected and get your game on!

Field house, dance studio, and Varsity Centre dome
Did you know that you can get access to FREE time slots in the AC if you are a U of T student? Well you can, if you are involved with a recognized student club! No matter what kind of club it is, a good workout together can be a great way to burn off end-of-term stress. There are just a few things you’ve gotta do: fill out the rental application form at least ten days in advance, and have at least ten club/group members on board. Each club can claim one free rental per term each for the AC and the varsity dome, so make it count!

One last thing – if the AC timing/availability doesn’t work out for you, don’t forget that Hart House also let’s students reserve certain facilities for free!! There’s lots to choose from – the Activities Room, the Exercise Room, and even the Lower Gym, which can be used for indoor soccer, basket-ball, volley-ball, dodgeball… hmm, I think I might just have to round up some friends and get a game going myself!

-Lesia

 

Mobile games for mobile students

Phones and other mobile devices these days can do a lot of amazing things (it’s like we’re living in the future or something) and one result of the proliferation of these ‘smart’ phones/tablets/other doohickeys and doodads has been the emergence of mobile gaming as a popular form of entertainment.

As a commuter student I find that gaming on my iPhone is a perfect way to make my trips to and from school a little bit more bearable. With this post, I want to recommend a few mobile games I am currently into. These mobile games also offer a great opportunity for you to rest your mind in between classes or kill some time as you wait for a friend at Starbucks. Each of the below games can be found on most ‘smart’ platforms (sorry BlackBerry owners) and are priced within the range that is acceptable on a student’s budget (most of the below games can be bought for under a dollar, if not free).

Angry Birds Star Wars - Rovio Entertainment

This game combines the mechanics and gameplay of the mega-popular Angry Birds franchise with the iconography and aesthetic of some indie film series called Star Wars. The game is simple, highly addictive, and is probably already familiar to most of you reading this post. For the BlackBerry owners out there, Angry Birds is a physics-based game in which you slingshot a bird (who is angry) at piggies in an attempt to rid their vile presence from this God-Given Earth. Being a Star Wars iteration, each of the birds you use in this version of Angry Birds has a specific power, from Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber swing to Han Solo’s laser blaster. If you have not played an Angry Birds game before, now is the time to get in on the fun as this iteration in the series is the best one yet!

Available on iOS ($0.99), Android ($0.99), and Windows Phone ($0.99)

Battle Cats - Ponos

I love this game. Battle Cats is a tower defense game in which you employ a variety of cats to do battle with enemies ranging from dogs to hippos. The premise is simple enough: you compete with the computer opponent to develop and deploy units to be the first to destroy the other’s base. While this is fairly straightforward, the game adds a layer of depth as you must unlock and upgrade units with a limited amount of points (which you gain by playing) in order to progress and compete with the game’s steadily increasing difficulty. The game’s rough English translation in everything from its opening story to in-game descriptions of units only adds to its quirky charm. Download it.

Available on: iOS ($0.00) and Android ($0.00)

Punch Quest - Rocketcat Games

In this fast paced arcade-style fighting game you pummel hordes of enemies with the touch of your fingertips! You’re able to customize your character in a variety of ways – from determining which special attacks you want him to have, to his style of facial hair. Punch Quest is regarded as one of the best mobile games to have come out last year and it is definitely worth checking out!

Available on: iOS ($0.00) and coming soon to Android

Peggle - PopCap Games

I am not kidding when I say that Peggle is one of my favourite games of all time. In this puzzle game, the player is tasked with shooting a limited supply of balls at a field of coloured pegs. Your goal is to clear out specifically marked pegs while trying to rack-up a high score. You are aided in your efforts by in-game ‘Peggle Masters’ who each bring a special power you can utilize into the mix (my personal favourite is the rabbit-Magician Warren, his ‘Lucky Spin’ ability is essential when trying to achieve high scores). As with most puzzle games, the satisfaction you receive when playing Peggle is gained through competition with yourself — constantly trying to best your previous high score on any given level. If you download one game I recommended in this post, please let it be this one. Catch the Peggle Fever!

Available on: iOS ($0.99)

Notable Mentions

The above is in no way a complete list, just the best that I have played which you should too. The following are a few other mobile games I definitely recommend you check out: Super Hexagon (iOS and Android), Drop 7 (iOS and Android), Draw Something (iOS and Android), Tetris (iOS and Android), Plants vs Zombies (iOS, Android, and Windows Phone), Zombie Highway (iOS and Android), Fruit Ninja (iOS, Android, and Windows Phone), and Jetpack Joyride (iOS and Android).

Unleashing your fierce side, Wen-do style

Before last week, I had never taken any sort of self-defence training in my life. In the back of my head I know that I should be prepared for sticky situations, especially since I live off campus and sometimes commute late at night. But since I’ve never encountered any real trouble before, I haven’t given much thought to what I would actually do should a dangerous situation arise. I hear about the incidents on the radio or the news, but my mindset has still sort of been like “oh nothing’s going to happen to me… ” Talk about unprepared.

But a while ago I found out that one of the dons at my college was organizing a FREE Wen-Do session. I had first heard about it at the She’s Got Game event back in September, and have been waiting for an opportunity to try it, so I immediately signed up.

So, what exactly is this Wen-do thing?

Source: Wen-do Canada

It’s all about basic self-defence taught by women, for women in an inclusive and comfortable atmosphere.  The focus isn’t only on the physical aspect though – they share strategies for verbal self-defence, like confronting and reasoning as well. Oh, and I learned how important it is to use the element of surprise!

I attended the Wen-do session at my college last week with about three dozen other girls, and even though there were a bunch of other events on that same night, I’m really glad I went to this.  What I like best about Wen-do is that the moves are easy to learn, easy to remember, and most important of all, down-right practical. It didn’t matter if whether or not we completely mastered every move. Wen-do is all about teaching you what you need to know to take control of a sticky situation, and buy enough time for yourself to get away safely.

We blocked, we kicked, we yelled (no girlie shrieks – I’m talking full on, GET OUTTA MY FACE hollering!). I don’t know if it was the dynamic instructor, or just the positive energy in the room, but I found those three hours to be really empowering. I went into it not really knowing what to expect, but within the first hour I was assured that Wen-do wasn’t about accepting that women are weak or powerless. Quite the opposite, really – it was about realizing that we don’t need to rely on ridiculous safety gadgets or someone else to save us. We are capable of looking out for ourselves, and we are strong enough to stand up and defend ourselves when we need to.

I left the session that night feeling much more confident in myself. I feel better now that should something dangerous ever happen, I have some strategies to fall back on. In fact, I think if you talked to any of the other girls who participated, they too would be feeling less powerless and a lot more like…

This absolutely FREE 3-hour session was possible thanks to the Community Safety Office at U of T. So if you wanna give Wen-do a try, all you gotta do is get at a group of at least 10 girls, and get in touch with the office. They’d be more than happy to help you out with all the logistics from there!

- Lesia

 

Cardio queen takes on the SCC

I’m almost half way through my second year here at U of T, and to be honest, until a few weeks ago I had not even set foot in the Strength and Conditioning Centre (SCC) at the AC. It’s been in the back of my mind as one of those things I should really check out sometime, but I always put it off. I love my cardio – walking, running, biking… that’s good enough right? Who needs weights?!

Well, cardio is great, but deep down I know that it is important to mix it up and add activities like strength training to my regime to keep my core and all my muscles nice and strong. And with the weather only getting colder outside, I finally decided it was about time I ventured into this seemingly intimidating room.

Since I prefer exercising outdoors and/or in team sports, I didn’t know the first thing about “weight rooms.” All those obscure and scary looking machines – where to even start?! Watching is the best way for me to learn how to do something, so I registered for the FREE SCC circuit orientation offered on Mondays during women-only
hours
.

Talk about a good idea! I get kinda self-conscious when I feel like people are watching me, so I felt much more comfortable learning the ropes with only a few other girls in the room. The SCC staff person was really friendly and an excellent guide each step of the way. It was just me and one other girl doing the orientation, so there was plenty of
time for the instructor to demonstrate how to use each of the eight machines in
the circuit before we gave it a try. With just those eight machines we got a real
full body workout – chest, shoulders, back, biceps, hamstrings, quads, glutes… it
helped me realize what muscles in my body really could use a little more work!

Unless you are in front of a mirror, it can be tough to see what you look like as you use the equipment. That’s why it was also super helpful that as we tried out each machine, the instructor would watch and make sure that we were doing it right. That’s really important, not only so that you look like a boss during your workout, but so that you don’t strain or injure yourself!

Now that I’ve been-there, done-that with the SCC, I can honestly say that it is not so scary!! At least, not during women-only access. Ladies, we get it ALL to ourselves for an hour every day, so take advantage of it! Check the schedule to find out when they offer orientations, or pick up some printed info-sheets next time you pass through the turnstiles!

-Lesia

Dancing it out

Even though at times it can seem overwhelming, I’ve grown to love the fact that U of T offers us students dozens of ways to get out and try something new. And even better is that these opportunities are often completely FREE for the exploring! So after flipping through the Athletic Centre’s Activity Guide and noticing that they offer  free dance workshops this year, I decided I’d give it a shot. Last Friday I hustled on up to the dance studio to learn some new moves with the UC follies.

Now, a little bit of context… I am NOT a dancer. At all. My level of skill can pretty much be summed up as follows:

A little part of me kind of wishes I had stuck with dance after the two years of ballet and tap that many five year-olds go through… I’ve danced only on the rare occasion over the years, and it’s always an activity I’ve found to be fun, but at the same time quite challenging. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get my arms and legs co-ordinated into those graceful, fluid movements.

So it was a good thing that the workshop catered to all levels, including the, um, not so artistically-inclined. It was modern dance, a style I’ve never tried before, so it was a real watch-and-learn experience. Over the course of the two hour session, I hopped, pointed, kicked, spun, leaped, and rolled across the floor as I attempted to follow the dynamic choreography. Even though I often missed a step and had to do a modified version of the back shoulder roll, I found it really fun to just forget about everything and focus on moving my body to the music.

The best thing about workshops like these is that no one is watching to see if you nail every step or kept your toe pointed the whole time. All that is expected of you is that you go out and give it some honest effort. The instructor was super friendly, and encouraging, and came around to give us all some helpful tips.

So if you are looking to test out your own dance moves, grab a friend and sign up* for the next one on Saturday November 3rd with Only Human Dance Collective! UC follies is doing another one on February 8th 2013, but check their Facebook page; I’ve heard they might be squeezing in some more sessions before then! And don’t stress about whether or not you will be great at it… cause just like the song we danced to said, you’ve got nothing to lose.

-Lesia

*Select Downtown registered programs from the main dropdown menu.