F the freshman 15

How to stay fit as a frosh

F the freshman 15

The turmoil of university life can really restrict the amount of time we have to move our bodies! Even for people who have always been enthusiastic about sports and fitness, it can be all too easy to relegate exercise to the bottom of our priority lists, especially when our piles of schoolwork often take precedence. Despite our heavy workloads, it’s valuable to dedicate time to fun and enjoyable exercise. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore; once you find activities you’re really interested in, exercise can energize, inspire, and help you focus on your day-to-day tasks. Here are some ideas for where to start: 

Join a drop-in activity

U of T offers many drop-in, instructor-led classes, from intense, sweat-inducing Boot Camp Fun, to invigorating Zumba. My personal favourite is doing a lunchtime yoga class between lectures. Drop-in activities are free for students — well, they are included in our incidental fees. They’re offered at the Athletic and Goldring Centres, as well as at Hart House. You can find the class schedules on their respective websites.

Check out a recreational club at U of T 

U of T hosts a variety of recreational clubs, including groups that explore the outdoors, go scuba diving, practice martial arts, and do hip-hop. Recreational clubs are not only a fun way to exercise, but also to join a community of new, like-minded people. 

Sign up for an intramural sports team 

Soccer, basketball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, and flag football are just some of the many intramural sports offered at U of T. Intramural teams compete against other colleges and faculties within the university. Signing up for an intramural means finding a team and committing to playing games throughout the semester. This is a great option for those who have a competitive streak!

Find an exercise friend

Finding a friend to exercise with can be a great way to stay fit. Personally, having exercise buddies makes me feel supported, especially when my motivation is running low. Walk and talk, go rock climbing together, go for a refreshing swim, or reserve a badminton, squash, tennis, or table tennis court.

Consider registering for MoveU.HappyU

Physical activity can boost your mood and help reduce negative feelings. So, if you’re struggling with your mental health and want to improve your level of physical activity, I highly recommend the MoveU.HappyU program. Participants develop skills to stick to an exercise program and improve physical and emotional well-being through goal-setting, planning, and self-monitoring. 

It can be difficult to achieve a balance between personal life and school while in university. It can also take a while to figure out what kind of physical activity suits you best at this point in your life. The real secret to staying fit as a frosh is as cliché as it sounds: keep exploring and don’t stop trying new things until you find something you enjoy.

How to crush your 2019 fitness goals

New year, new fitness goals: be realistic and stay motivated

How to crush your 2019 fitness goals

“New year, new me,” is what we say to ourselves every single New Year’s Eve. For many people, New Year’s resolutions contain fitness goals to hit, but many of us fall short.

The primary reason why people don’t achieve their fitness goals is because they don’t begin the new year with the required discipline and motivation that would keep them going for the rest of the year. So this year, I am going to help you, Varsity readers, to hit your goals by explaining to you step by step what to do.

The most significant part is to decide on your fitness goal. There are different types of fitness goals and each require different strategies and steps to follow. The most common ones are losing fat, building muscle, and gaining strength. Once you decide the right fitness goal for yourself, you can start the journey.

Losing fat

If you are looking to get rid of some extra weight and get the physique that you’ve always wanted, never forget this: losing weight starts in the kitchen.

Modifying your diet in a few simple ways will have considerable impacts on your health and weight losing process. The most basic modifications can be listed as: eat more soluble fiber, avoid junk food, consume less alcohol, eat more protein, and cut back on carbs and fats.

But if you think that losing fat is only related to eating less and healthy, you are wrong. Training is just as important as eating healthy for leaning down. Strength training is a requirement because with strength training you build muscle, a process that burns more calories. And of course, don’t forget to pair your strength training with cardio.

Building muscle

When it comes to gaining muscle, what you have to do is fairly straightforward: eat big, train big.

As you have probably heard from any ‘big guy’ packed with muscles, protein is the key to muscle building. In addition to eating more protein, you should basically stop cutting calories and start eating more.

In the gym, you basically should be lifting for two or three sets of an exercise for six to 12 repetitions, with short breaks between sets. Pay attention on keeping relatively lower weights to do more repetitions.

Gaining strength

In order to gain strength and build muscle, you should lift each workout, push yourself to your limits and hit your main muscle groups — your chest, back, shoulders, and legs. Try to maintain lower repetitions and higher weights to maximize the strength gains each workout.

After learning more about what is the right goal for you, the next step is to actually start the journey. At first, it will be really hard, but once you make fitness and healthy living an integral part of your life, you will not only look better, but also feel better.

Getting fitter and healthier is a long and difficult and it requires a good amount of patience, but as Samuel Beckett once said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

A guide to U of T’s tri-campus intramural athletics

The benefits of staying active with intramural sports

A guide to U of T’s tri-campus intramural athletics

As the start of the fall semester slowly approaches, U of T will be in the midst of intramural action once again. U of T, owing to its tri-campus structure, has one of the most exciting and unique intramural programs across Canadian universities.

Every year, student athletes from UTSG, UTSC, and UTM join together to compete in tri-campus athletics. Whether it is soccer, basketball, hockey, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, et cetera, students have the opportunity to play their favourite sports while representing their campus, college, or program.

The U of T Intramural Program is organized by the university’s three main athletic bodies: UTSG’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE), UTSC’s Department of Athletics and Recreation, and UTM’s Department of Recreation, Athletics & Wellness. Each organizes multiple teams for various sports, all hoping to be crowned champions of U of T.

The U of T Development League (D-League) is the highest level of intramural competition, featuring the best and brightest non-varsity athletes across U of T. The program is offered in men’s hockey, men’s outdoor soccer, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s indoor soccer.

Through committed coaching staff and intense training sessions, the D-League offers students a chance to develop their skills for possible future Varsity competition. The four D-League teams include the St. George Reds, the St. George Blacks, the UTSC Maroons, and the UTM Eagles.

Other intramural leagues provide various levels of competition. In general, U of T tri-campus teams are at the same calibre as a good high-school team.

All of the tri-campus teams hold one practice and one game a week, and schedules may intensify come playoff time.

Tri-campus sports is an perfect alternative to varsity athletics, as it offers the right competitive edge without the time-commitment and pressure of being a Varsity Blue. Not only does the program provide students with the platform to compete in their favourite sports, but it also gives the opportunity to network and build relationships with many like-minded athletes and coaches.

As a tri-campus intramural athlete myself, I can safely say that joining the program was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my university career. As a former high school student athlete, I wanted to ensure I continued playing competitive sports once I started at U of T.

After doing some research, I discovered the Intramural Program and became instantly hooked.

Competing in tri-campus sports provided me with everything I was looking for as a non-varsity student athlete. Through great coaching and intense training, I was able to continue developing my skills and growing as a player.

The program also gave me the opportunity to practice and compete in various athletic facilities across U of T, including UTSC’s Toronto Pan Am Sports Center and the Varsity Centre. As a rookie, my teammates welcomed me with open arms and took me under their wings. They provided me with guidance and advice on how to navigate and adjust to university life, academically, socially, and athletically.

Of course, like any competitive athletic program, there came some challenges and obstacles such as waking up for 7:00 am practices, playing in freezing-cold weather, and facing season-long injuries. But, nonetheless, it’s all a part of the process.

This upcoming year, the Intramural Program is expecting over 10,000 tri-campus student athletes to compete in 78 leagues and 20 tournaments. The program continues to get better and better, and students across all three campuses are getting ready for another exciting season.

Whether you enjoy competitive sports or just want to stay fit, the intramural program has something for everyone. Come out this September and try out for your favourite sports!

Believe me, you won’t regret it.

First-year students shouldn’t feel intimidated in the gym

A guide on how to get started and navigate UTSG’s facilities

First-year students shouldn’t feel intimidated in the gym

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.

POUND classes hosted at Hart House

New fitness class incorporates drumming

POUND classes hosted at Hart House

Upon arriving to POUND, I saw a few faces who had come to try something new, in addition to a few who had already heard about the new workout craze. The sun shone through the beautiful Hart House gym windows as we waited for the class to start. We were greeted by trainer Melissa Mazzucco, who instructed us to grab a mat and a pair of neon-green drumsticks.

If you’ve got no idea what POUND is, you’re not alone. The new fitness phenomenon combines the intense rhythm movement of drumming with common exercises, which makes the workout extremely engaging and helps one build their own sense of rhythm. POUND is an excellent substitute for cardio. It involves repetitive movement that takes place on the spot. This form of exercise is great for those who don’t want to get involved with running, which is a huge bonus for those who are wary about knee injuries.

This year, Hart House began hosting POUND as a part of its drop-in fitness programs. The class takes place every Friday from 9:10–10:00 am in the lower gym.

I’ll be honest — at first I expected actual drums, but I then realized that would have been way too heavy for the trainer to carry to class. The music started, a remix of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” and we began hitting our drumsticks together in unison with the beat. We then launched into a variety of movements up and down, side to side, and began hitting our mats by squatting and drumming at the same time. Many of the exercises involved lunging backward and forward, and side to side, squatting up and down, then eventually doing some core work. These exercises mainly tackle the leg, gluteus, and abdomen muscles. I was certainly very sore the next day, and I felt that this class effectively promoted us into doing many, many squats.

POUND was founded by former drummers Kirsten Potenza and Cristina Peerenboom. As Mazzucco told us, they were looking for a new form of exercise when they took it upon themselves to take their drumming skills to the next level. They began incorporating all forms of fitness movements with the use of drumming sticks, hitting off various surfaces while inducing movement and following the rhythm of the music. It turned into an international organization that continues to update its routines with new music and new moves.

A great quality of the class is that it’s in the morning – the perfect time for people to begin their day.

Mazzucco has a background in dance training, is certified in many forms of fitness training, and is certain to expand your knowledge to beyond that of the class alone.

Traditional gymgoers may hesitate at first taking one of these classes. I used to play a lot of intense sports and worked out occasionally, but once I took a Zumba class, I was amazed to see how tired I was afterward.

One can certainly equate the intensity of these rhythm classes to that of traditional exercises. POUND runs at an intense rhythm. Like Zumba, you are constantly moving to the beat of the music that won’t slow down until the end of the class. What’s great about both POUND and Zumba is that you feel like you’re dancing the entire time while getting in a great workout.

Overall, these classes are great for accommodating to the needs of people of all abilities and ages. The instructors insist on this to make sure that you don’t feel an absolute need to keep up with everything. The instructor will help adjust exercises in a manner that accommodates to any level one feels comfortable with.

What you need to know about circuit training

The popular and highly debated workout regiment aims to improve flexibility and coordination

What you need to know about circuit training

Circuit training has always been a hot topic within the fitness world, and it may just be worth sweating over. Circuit training is a rotation of repeated movements that maximizes cardio and strengthens muscle through sets and reps. The objective of circuit training is to train endurance as well as to strengthen and target muscles in order to improve an individual’s flexibility and coordination. Each training session typically includes a combination of both aerobic exercise and strength training.

The debate surrounding circuit training

Arguments against circuit training claim that it can limit the ability to increase strength and power, but it can also be interpreted as a workout that challenges the whole body. What you get out of your training depends on how you choose to structure it.

Circuits are designed to fit at least eight repetitions per exercise and per station. Because circuit training consists of various exercises and stations, each targeting different muscle groups, it may decrease the gains you would earn from a more specific muscle training workout.

Despite that, it is possible to do low-repetition, high-weight exercises during a circuit to include the strengthening component. The purpose of a circuit is repetition to increase endurance. Hardcore weightlifting exercises within a circuit can be too exhausting to complete in multiple rounds, especially when performed with little rest or recovery time.

How to effectively circuit train

While circuits can be tiring, an individual’s pace is important. People should be wary of the tendency to work harder and push themselves in the beginning, only to give in by the end.

This is a common mistake partly because participants may minimize or eliminate rest between stations. Participants are most effective when they use a work-rest ratio of at least 1:1. One good example is 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest.

To help avoid fast muscle fatigue, you can structure circuits for strength training by alternating between low-rep strength and high-rep endurance exercises. You can also vary the muscles each station intends on targeting, which may allow you to have a more balanced full-body workout.

Research shows that this type of training is more effective than a regular workout. You can burn up to 10 calories per minute, and the afterburn effect will have you burning off calories for up to 48 hours after your workout ends. For those who lift weights, circuit training burns 30 per cent more calories than your typical weight workout and offers more cardio benefits.

The stations associated with circuit training also provide a way to organize an individual workout plan within a tighter period of time. Another point in favour of circuit training: you can do it at the gym or at home. By participating in a circuit, you’re guaranteed to hit every major and minor muscle group.

How to create your own circuit

First, create your own circuit by deciding how long you want your workout to be. Challenge yourself by taking part in this type of training two to three times a week by completing a full circuit of four to eight exercises.

Next, create your stations. You can start with upper body then work your way to muscles in the lower body. My personal favourites for upper body exercise are ab twists, pushups, or bicep and tricep curls with handheld weights. When selecting a lower body workout, you can include lunges, calf raises, or sumo squats.

The next exercise should be compound, combining upper and lower body. Some exercises can include jumping lunges, mountain climbers, and burpees. Keep each exercise on a 30-second rotation between performance and rest. Remember the 1:1 ratio of performance and rest.

Conclude the circuit with a one-minute cardio set. Your exercise choices can be jump rope, high knees, or stair climbing. Once completed, allow yourself one minute of rest as you gear up to work through another repetition of the circuit.

Like with any workout, you get out what you put in. In the end, it is up to you to give your best 30 seconds or let the 30 seconds get the best of you.

The mythical importance of sweating at the gym

Why sweat isn’t a determining factor for a productive workout

The mythical importance of sweating at the gym

When I’m at the gym or out for a run, I find the presence of sweat a strong indication of a successful workout. If I’m not drenched in sweat, then I think I didn’t work out hard enough. This is a common misconception many of us have.

I can’t even count the number of times I have been told by coaches, my parents, or sporting brand ads that in order to shed calories or fat or even gain muscle, you need to sweat after every workout. It sounds almost intuitive: you must be working harder than normal to sweat, which means that the more you sweat the more you’re burning.

On the contrary, almost all research done on sweating comes back with the same conclusion: a correlation between sweat and fat burn does not exist. So where does this myth stem from?

Our muscles do require a certain amount of calories, or energy, in the form of fat or carbohydrates. The harder we work out, the more energy we need. At certain energy levels, our body will need to work harder, which in turn will raise our bodies’ overall temperature and trigger a response from our sweat glands.

Sweating is an autonomic nervous system function that is triggered when your inner core temperature gets too high. Sweat is our bodies’ way of cooling off and maintaining a normal body temperature. Not only does sweat cool the skin as it evaporates, it also helps cool our inside core temperature.

Made up of water, sodium, and other substances, sweat helps cool your body. It makes sense to think that since working out increases our inner core temperature, the amount of sweat we produce is a good indication of how hard we work. As you work out harder, your body needs to pump more blood to your muscles, which logically increases the body’s overall temperature.

However, despite people having an average of 2–4 million sweat glands in their body, no two people produce the same quantity of sweat — especially not for the same activities.

Everything from gender, genetics, environmental conditions, age, weight and even fitness can drastically change how much a person sweats. Aspects like stress, anxiety, and hormones also trigger the stimulation of those sweat glands and have been shown to even alter a person’s body temperature.

Therefore, it is a major misconception to believe that the rate you sweat is only determined by fitness level.

Fit people do sweat earlier and more easily than most people. Individuals who are fit have bodies that are more efficient at not only sending motor and neuron signals to their muscles, but also are more effective at regulating the inner core temperature. As a result, individuals who are fit sweat much sooner, cooling down their bodies faster and for prolonged periods of time, to allow those individuals to work out longer.

Another potential explanation for the sweat-fitness correlation myth could originate from the fact that a prolonged amount of sweating does make you lose water weight, since your body is producing so much sweat from your glands. You could appear to have burned fat and calories when in actuality you have only burned off water weight.

In other words, your rate of sweat and level of calorie burn are not synonymous. You could be sweating more than another individual not necessarily because you’re working out harder, but more likely because of different factors like a higher weight or higher level of fitness. To more accurately keep track of fat or calorie burn, individuals should focus more on heart rates and scale numbers instead.

Sweating out the fury

Breaking down the importance of channelling anger into a positive workout

Sweating out the fury

What if I told you that you could run your way to happiness, or that exercise could naturally allow you to burn away stress and anger and not just calories? Running and exercise reduce levels of stress hormones and boost the production of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that fight pain and boost positive mood.

The correlation between moods and working out is a prominent one. Moods, goals, and mindsets all have an influence on an individual’s motives and desires. Research conducted by Jennifer Lerner of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory found that anger can make people overconfident and motivated to take dangerous risks.

Many individuals look to exercise as an outlet to channel anger. Studies have shown that engaging in physical activity allows for anger to be released through the body’s movements, keeping stress levels and anger under control.

Aerobic exercise, which relies on oxygen to produce energy, increases the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and reduces anxiety. Walking, jogging, and cycling are all good examples of aerobic circuits. Taking part in team sports is another great way to get active, and cooperation with others can both reduce anger and stress.

Benefical stationary exercises include flexing and relaxing muscles and doing deep breathing exercises. These processes help relax your body, reducing your anger and anxiety.

Anger is more than just a mood that affects relationships or situations — it affects the body, heart, and mind. When anger is expressed as an action or emotion, many do not realize how detrimental it can be to an individual’s overall health and well-being. Many also don’t realize the importance of working out and how it reduces the buildup of anger, allowing you to feel recharged and positive.

Improving your physical condition is not only beneficial for the body but can help you better manage your emotions. Unhealthy responses to anger weaken the immune system and puts the body at risk. In a 1995 study published in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine, scientists found that an angry experience could cause a dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, which provides the first line of defence against infection.

Feelings of anger, stress, and depression can also have an impact on one’s life expectancy. A University of Michigan study conducted over a 17-year period found that couples who hold in their anger and repress feelings have a shorter lifespan than those who are vocal and express what’s on their mind when they’re angry.

Anger is especially damaging to cardiac health. When an individual is angry, their average heart rate of 80 beats per minute can drastically increase to 180 beats per minute. “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” Chris Aiken, instructor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, told Everyday Health.

Repressing anger is when one holds back their feelings and allows anger to build up. It is when an individual expresses their anger indirectly, and it is closely tied to heart disease. To protect your heart, find an outlet to channel your anger and regulate stress levels; identifying and addressing feelings is important to controlling anger.

Constructive anger is being able to express your feelings directly and in a problem-solving manner. This is a healthy way of dealing with frustration and is not associated with heart disease.

The brain processes all emotional stress and is therefore the first to feel the effects of anger. This then causes the body to release stress hormones that impact brain productivity and overall performance of the mind, heart, and body.