SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

It’s perfectly normal if the thought of going to the gym intimidates you. It’s an experience that I know all too well. The first day I stepped into a gym, I went straight upstairs to the cardio machines because the actual weight room just seemed like an impossible task for me to navigate.

I was also nervous and self-conscious, thinking that I would look out of place, helplessly flailing around without a plan. Attending university and working out seemed like climbing a mountain, when in reality, it was nothing more than a slight incline on a short hill.

While I’ll look specifically at staying active during your first year of school, this advice applies to anyone else who is starting or resetting their fitness journey.

Create a plan and stick to it

To achieve your fitness goals, it is necessary that you first stay on top of your academic responsibilities and social life before embarking on the additional challenge.

Create and follow a plan, track the sort of exercises that you want to do, and determine what is critical to achieve the growth and gains that you want.

Like most things in life, it’s not only motivation that will drive you, but also discipline. Set aside time for your own studies, make a weekly outline or schedule, choose the days and hours when you want to work out, and, most importantly, stick to it.

How to navigate UTSG’s gyms

At UTSG, each of the three main fitness facilities — the Athletic Centre, the Goldring Centre for High Performance, and Hart House — has a unique feature that differs from the others.

At first, the Goldring Centre may seem like a challenging place for working out, but if you take the appropriate time needed to learn your way around the gym, you should have it figured out fairly quickly.

Goldring is the place to be if you’re into powerlifting and barbell exercises. However, if that type of environment seems too challenging for you to workout in or doesn’t fit your needs, Hart House is great alternative that I would recommend from personal experience.

As a first-year student, I remember going to Hart House initially just to run on its unique track and soon learned that unlike Goldring, its gym has more machines. This means that if you’re more self-conscious about using free weights like I once was, Hart House may provide you with a more comfortable starting point.

The Athletic Centre provides students with a mixture of both cardio and strength training. Whether you want to get into serious lifting, or just start with cardio, there are plenty of resources available to you.

If you need help at any gym, be sure to ask one of the available staff members. From time to time, I’m still unsure about how to do certain exercises or even how to expand my own repertoire. It’s also great to work out with a gym buddy, so you don’t go at this alone and also have someone to talk to.

While being a student is hard enough and the challenge of trying to live a better lifestyle can seem like an impossible task, if you create the right plan, you can accomplish any fitness goal you set — no matter if they are big or small.

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