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.

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Hello September: Play Day and early goal setting

Welcome back everyone! It’s hard to believe it’s September again.

My name is Annette and I’m excited to be a returning contributor to the Life@UofT blog this year. I’ll be continuing to cover all things physical activity and fitness with a weekly post you can expect to be published every Friday.

If you’re new to the blog, hello and welcome! If you like what you find, you can check out the archive to catch up on all the fun we had last year.

A bit about me: I’m a fourth-year student double majoring in Physiology and Biochemistry and minoring in German Studies. I’m absolutely wired right now on account of impending doom (read as: LSAT), but I’m doing my best to be excited about all that will follow for the rest of the year. I’m a peculiar person – half of the time I’m a bit of a grandma who likes to go to sleep early and sleep lots, drink tea under a fuzzy blanket – that sort of thing. The other half of the time, however, I’m curtain climbing and training to be a ninja – I just don’t know an in between.

Annette is seen hanging upside down from a set of aerial silks.

(I spend a lot of time upside down…)

September is a big month, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Between moving in and out of apartments/residences, shopping for textbooks, starting classes and trying to override a very “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle and/or sleep pattern, there’s a LOT going on. You should see my calendar, it’s absolutely BONKERS.

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Following Through: getting physical towards a healthier year

a photo of a white reusable travel mug against a sunrise backdrop, the sky is blue and orange and the travel mug is somewhat a silhouette, the travel mug has 'Lug a Mug' emblazoned across it with a picture of a green leafUsually, I’m a morning person. Usually, I love waking up to the dawn breaking over the horizon. There’s something invigorating about how the smell of fresh coffee curls around the cool and slightly damp morning air. I can’t help but fall in love with it over and over and over again. BUT there are some mornings when just the thought of leaving the soft warmth of my pillow conjures feelings of fear and dread right in the deepest and darkest crevices of my soft heart and fragile mind. Monday morning was one of them.

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Soul on Ice Film Screening: Past, Present and Future of Black Hockey Players

Was anyone at the Soul on Ice screening last week? The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) partnered with Hart House to put together a free screening open to students and community members of Soul on Ice, a unique documentary about the past, present and future of black hockey players.



I was a little hesitant because I’ve never been a hockey fan, nor do I know much at all about hockey. The screening took place at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport in the Kimel Family Fieldhouse – it was my first time standing in this stunning space, and now I’m eager to check out a Varsity game there in the future.

Your MoveU team was there, directing people prior to the start of the film.


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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!).



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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

“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.



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