Freshman 15, Keeping Fit!
Keeping fit matters. It helps mentally as well as physically. The phrase “Freshman 15” has its own claim to fame — actually infamy — because it does happen all too often. It may not be 15. It can just be 5 or 10 extra pounds gained that first year of college, which might or might not be added to the next year. I gained at least 15 pounds during my first semester at college. It was definitely NOT my finest moment. I went from living at home with set meal times and no abundance of snacks (not even alcohol, even though the drinking age was 18 at the time) to living in Gainesville among all its temptations. Who could resist the lure of late-night socializing and delivery of every (mostly fast) food imaginable? And, of course, I had no time (so I told myself) for exercising except walking to class.
Back then, we did not have a fitness center on campus that was included in our tuition. But even now, with the amazing fitness centers available to today’s students, many students do gain weight for the same reasons I cited. My daughters chalk it up to late-night pizzas and tacos (after drinking –yep, those calories count, too!) and the food at their sorority not being the healthiest. But there are ways to keep fit!
No Judgement Zone
Please don’t think passing judgment is the aim here. Not every student will gain weight, drink, or think similarly about a sorority meal plan. Those are just the personal examples that get to the main purpose of my message: even for students on a tight budget, it is possible to eat healthy, exercise, and not gain the Freshman 15.
Let’s start here by addressing exercising. UF’s Southwest Recreation center recently underwent full renovations. I do not know if students today realize how fortunate they are to have a facility that includes strength and conditioning rooms, basketball courts, racquetball courts, a gymnasium for indoor soccer, handball and basketball, a cardio room on both floors, access to massage therapy, training, locker rooms, and a social lounge, all to help them stay fit. It’s easy to sign up for group classes at SW Rec (or the Student Rec Center); students simply need to use their GatorLink to sign in. This website is the portal to all fitness classes, massage options, nutrition help, and 1-on-1 fitness training. This same site will also allow your Gator to sign up to get trained in Crossfit. A student MUST be or get trained in Crossfit before he or she is allowed to use the Crossfit area.
Fun is Fitness!
And there’s still more, as staying fit has never been so easy or included so many fun choices. The fitness center offers all types of classes including Bootcamp, cardio, spin, yoga and meditation, Zumba, barre, and more. The schedule can be found here. There is a second fitness center located on Fletcher Drive. It, too, has a strength and conditioning room, cycle studio, racquetball courts, squash courts, cardio space, and a gym for basketball, volleyball or martial arts.
These two great fitness centers are just the tip of the exercise iceberg. Many students prefer to run the stadium, a longstanding tradition with UF students. This involves running down the steps in the stadium and then back up, moving from section to section. It is free and open for students, and as amazing a workout as it sounds. An added advantage is being able to watch the football team practice if timed properly!
HaveUHeard that UF students can also get into Lake Wauburg for free with their Gator 1 Card? They can also bring up to four guests if they like. Lake Wauburg has swimming, boating, volleyball, a team development course, and a climbing wall. (The site is closed on Mondays.)
And if you played team sports growing up, you can still get involved with UF’s intramural sports leagues. League action lasts 5-6 weeks at a time. There are leagues for softball, indoor volleyball, indoor soccer, racquetball, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, team tennis, kickball, basketball, flag football, and a golf scramble. There’s even a cornhole tournament. See here for schedules. Many of the sororities and fraternities have competitive sports teams as well.
For those students who can’t quite give up their familiar workout regimen, Gainesville has two Orangetheory Fitness locations. My daughter’s roommates opted for that route, having chosen the two sessions per week package.
For Crossfit fanatics, there are several locations in Gainesville, including Gator CrossFit which has been here for over eight years. There is currently not, however, an LA Fitness location in Gainesville, so I chose to cancel my daughter’s membership. But if your student belongs to Youfit, you will be happy to know that Gainesville has a location on SW 34th Street. Unless theirs is a single club access membership, your student should be able to use it at this location.
Another popular workout for the female UF students is Pure Barre. UF’s Fitness Center does offer barre classes, but those committed to the Pure Barre workout model can head over to their studio in Millhopper Shopping Center. They offer a student discount with a valid student ID.
More places to find your fit
Gainesville Health and Fitness — Touting one membership for 3 Gainesville locations, this fitness center offers state-of-the-art equipment, innovative fitness options, and resort-style amenities through a variety of membership options.
Flow Space — Here at 117 NW 16th Ave, you’ll find weekly yoga including Acro, Aerial, and classes with Live Music. They even have a work-trade option for those of you into bartering. How can you not want in on a place that invites you to see what shenanigans they’re getting into? (I’m in!)
HOTWORX — Located in University Towne Center, this “HOT” studio offers one free workout to introduce you to their sauna philosophy, which ranges from hot cycle to hot pilates to hot buns. And if you’re thinking cinnamon with icing, you’re not keeping with the theme of this whole fitness conversation…
Yoga Pod — An introductory offer of $30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga will give you a chance to try the Pod experience at their location on 34th St near Archer.
Work the Great Outdoors
And finally, for those who like their exercise in the great Florida outdoors, the UF campus and surrounding community offer outdoor runners (and walkers) some beautiful trails. The website, Mapmyrun, was created by other runners and shows courses that take you around the entire campus, some as long as five miles. It is always advised to run with a buddy, especially if you are running in the early morning or at dusk. Safety should always come first.
For the healthy food approach to keeping the Freshman 15 at bay, please visit our Eating Healthy blog for better ideas than that midnight pizza. And cheers to health, fitness, and happiness!