Exercising on vacation

Thanksgiving is coming up, and a couple weeks after that, winter break starts. Holidays are usually a glorious time of music, laughter, friends, family, relaxation and delicious food. But when all the glitter fades and it’s time to go back to school, you might have a harder time buttoning your pants.

Luckily, this is an easy scenario to avoid. All you have to do is dedicate a little time to working out. If you’re going home or to visit a relative, this should be slightly easier. You know your surroundings and the options you have while you’re there. Is there a local gym you can frequent? Or do you prefer running through your neighborhood? If you live in the South or there is an indoor pool close by, you can try swimming. This is a good opportunity to change up your routine and try something new. Getting your family or friends involved will give you more motivation and it can be a great bonding experience. Those who sweat together, stay together.

Cory Jones, a 21-year-old chemical engineering major at the University of Florida, says he works out more when he’s home. “Winter break is when I finally have time,” Jones said. And since college students usually don’t have much time at home, he hangs out with his friends and exercises at the same time. “We play games like pick-up frisbee, and a lot of them do tae kwon do with me too.” Exercise doesn’t always have to mean solitary gym time.

If you plan on going on a trip, things become a little trickier. After all, you’re in an unfamiliar place. In this case, I suggest working out with a buddy. It can be more fun, but it’s also safer for the both of you to stick together. If you’re staying in a hotel with a gym, take advantage. Head there as soon as you wake up or right before bed and just spend 30-45 minutes on the treadmill or the elliptical.

If there isn’t a gym in your hotel or you’re not staying in a hotel, a run can be a great way to experience the local life. Again, stay with a buddy, but take a short jog around the area where you’re staying and take in your surroundings. It’s much nicer than rushing past everything in a car because you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. If you’re staying by the beach and it’s not too cold, you can run on the sand or go swimming.

Exercising on vacation doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it an experience to share with the people around you and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to work out every single day at a certain time for exactly one hour–the idea is to maintain the hard work that you put in throughout the semester. So the next time you start packing your bags to leave school behind for a little while, throw in your favorite exercise clothes so they’re there when you need them!

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The quintessential gym rat

One of the great things about being a college student, especially at the University of Florida, is the fact that you have free access to the gym. Once you graduate, you have to pay for a gym membership and then each special ‘class’ you want to take incurs another fee. So while you’re here, it’s best to take advantage.

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Many people don’t like going to the gym, either because it’s far away, they feel intimidated or maybe they just don’t like being indoors to exercise. But there are many reasons why the gym is a great tool to use on your way to having that beautiful body. The different machines give you a chance to work out different muscles that are much harder to exercise without the proper equipment. Most gyms have a weight room so you don’t have to buy a set of weights. They also offer classes taught by fitness instructors in several specific areas, like yoga, pilates or spinning. It is also nice to feel a sense of camaraderie. All the other people in the room are there for different reasons, but you all have the same goal in mind: to get in shape.

When you go the gym, it’s best to take advantage of the materials there that you cannot easily acquire outside. The elliptical, stair climber and rowing machine are great examples of this. Unless you want to run up and down the stairs in your dorm or apartment or join a rowing team, you are not going to work out those muscles as often as you should. Using the weights available to you is also a great idea. Almost any exercise can be taken to the next level by adding five pound weights in each hand.  You can also use an exercise ball for abdominal workouts.

Between the two gyms at UF, there are indoor basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and a track. If you want to work on cardio and are not really interested in running or using the machines, you can always start a pick-up game. There are a lot of people around to entice, and it is a great way to make friends. Chances are you will play for longer if you’re not in 90-degree heat (like Gainesville).

Last but certainly not least are the clubs and classes available to those who have access to the gym. You can sign up online for free to take a number of classes like zumba, yoga and spinning. This is a great option if you like having an instructor tell you exactly what to do and how to do it or if you like working in small groups of about 20 people. Joining a club is similar except that they usually meet regularly. There are many options, including tae kwon do, fencing and kickboxing. If you wanted to attend these classes outside the gym, it would cost you.

In the end, it’s up to you to make the decision where you want to work out. Be it in the gym, outside or in your own home, it’s important that you continue to exercise. But I do suggest that you try the gym before you turn it down. Otherwise, you’ll never know. Of course, there’s no time like the present!