When you're paying thousands of dollars a year for college, you want to make sure to take advantage of everything your school has to offer. Most universities allow students to utilize its gym facilities at no cost -- and many offer free or reduced-price group exercise courses too!
You'll really benefit from a fitness course if you're new to working out and you don't know where to begin or if you have a hard time staying motivated (when you see your peers busting their butts, you'll be more likely to keep up).
Fitness courses are also a great way to meet other students.
I decided to check out a Hatha Yoga fitness class that lasted for an hour and 25 minutes. Hatha Yoga, according to the gym's course description, helps "the mind, body and spirit come into alignment and unite."
Between you and me, I went into the class thinking it would be a breeze. I figured, "How hard can a couple of stretches be?" Boy, was I wrong!
We started off slowly with breathing techniques and light stretching, but by the first half hour I was twisted up like a contortionist, sweating profusely and wondering what I had gotten myself into.
My favorite part of the course: the end when the instructor turned off the lights, played meditation music and allowed us to drift into "Nirvana." Nirvana nothing... all I could think about was the pain coursing through my body.
-- If you're doing Yoga or any other form of exercise that requires props (e.g. Yoga mats) be sure to inquire if your school's gym provides these materials or if you will need to bring your own.
-- Embarrassing yourself is no fun so be sure you're attending a fitness course that's catered toward your level of expertise.
-- If you've never done Yoga before and you aren't flexible, go to the gym a bit early to stretch beforehand.
-- Clear your head. It's hard to attain mental enlightenment when all you can think about is your to-do list.
I made the mistake of going to the Yoga class on a Sunday evening before I had even begun my reading and assignments for school on Monday. If you're like me and you have a hard time clearing your mind, I think you'd get the most benefit from Yoga if you have already made a dent in your to-do list.
Making the Grades
Hatha Yoga, C+
It made me sweat, but I didn't achieve peace of mind.
Group exercise, A+
I love the idea of group exercise and I'm definitely going to check out some other class offerings.
ABOUT ME: In undergrad, my idea of exercise included dancing in clubs into the wee hours and walking to and from classes. As for my diet, breakfast consisted of Red Bulls and 3 a.m. IHOP visits, lunch was generally non-existent and pizza was a late-night staple. Once I began grad school, I came to realize the important roles that health and fitness play when it comes to academic success. I'm no longer "allergic" to sweat and I make an effort to fit the gym into my hectic schedule. Although I'm still no stranger to Red Bull, my new and improved lifestyle is helping me to make the grade.