Did you return from the Christmas break bright-eyed and full of optimism and energy, ready to hit the gym – for real this time? Did you strap on the trainers once, skip down to Pleasance, and fall at the first hurdle by trying to walk straight through the barrier without realising you have to pay first and be let through? Yep, me too.
Whilst some people claim to actually enjoy going to the gym, the place can be intimidating – and overwhelming – for those who are not accustomed to exercising en masse. The soul-destroying, repetitive ‘motivational’ music makes your ears want to bleed, the air is thick with the aroma of sweaty, gyrating bodies, and you feel the weight of everyone’s eyes on you, the obvious amateur in a sea of cross-trainer connoisseurs. Just thinking about those scary, black torture machines makes you break into a sweat (of anxiety). You don’t know how to use them, and you dare not ask for the fear of being laughed at by a crowd of – what looks like – professional bodybuilders pumping weights next to you, their toned biceps glinting in the harsh light. Add to this nightmare the rush of the New Year’s resolution crowd, and it turns out there is hardly a free treadmill to be found, no matter the time of day. Maybe it is time to find an alternative way to get fit, and leave the gym to those who do not have to set chocolate-based rewards to motivate themselves to actually go.
Try an exercise class
If it is the endless choice of machines, circuits and weights that makes your head spin, why not let someone else set the routine? No more worrying about what order to do things in, or how long to do an exercise for – try the (very funkily named) guided classes they provide at the Pleasance CSE Gym, which are either drop-in, or available to book online in advance. ‘Six Pack Attack’ or ‘Cardio Street Funk’, anyone?
Take your workout outside
You’re a student – and unless you live in New Town, you probably have The Meadows literally on your doorstep. With spring approaching (I am being optimistic here), there is really no excuse to not pull on some leggings and take yourself on a leisurely jog through the greenery. Plus, it is completely free – how can you argue with that?
Stretch it out
Continuing along the student-friendly theme, you might be in need of a little de-stressing as essays and reading begin to pile up. Many dismiss yoga as just stretching and not a proper form of exercise, but it really works muscles you did not know you had – and the focus on breathing means it is an exercise for the brain too, requiring concentration that puts all worries aside for at least a while. And you do not have to already be flexible to do it, as the whole point is to adapt the poses to your body, and ‘find what feels good’ – the motto of Youtube yoga guru Adriene Mishler, who uploads regular yoga videos for all levels, perfect to try out at home.
Make a splash
You might have traumatic memories of swimming classes at school, but without the pressures of a whistle-bearing teacher standing by the pool in blue plastic shoe protectors shouting at you, it can be a – dare I say – enjoyable way to work some exercise into your week. With the Royal Commonwealth Pool and Warrender Swim Centre so close to campus, you could even become one of those people who squeezes a few laps in between lectures. Maybe.
Hit the dance floor
Last but not least, you can even incorporate your exercise routine into the sesh, and make an attempt to throw a few more energetic moves on your next night out. Before you pull that face, Google says that aerobic dance can burn more than 443 calories per hour (more than a slow jog!) – and if you think of how long you normally spend in Why Not, it seems like a viable option. Plus, you can even freshen up and buy deodorant in the toilets – so it is basically the same as going to the gym. Right?