Out with the Excuses, in with the Exercises
Growing up in Canada, sport has always been a major part of my life. I was skiing before I was walking, literally, my dad would put me in a backpack and hit the slopes. Sadly, years of competitive ski racing, and instructing came to an abrupt halt when a ski accident left me with a nasty knee injury. Surgery and physiotherapy released me from crutches, but left me reluctant to strap on my skis again or do much of anything “sporty”.
I definitely would not identify as a “yogi” or “fitness nut.” Even prior to my injury, I was looking for ways to avoid exercise. School work, sleeping, socializing, more socializing…okay, I got really good at finding excuses to avoid exercising. As miserable as my ski injury was, it was the best “get out of jail free” excuse ever.
Aversion to exercise is not at all unusual, I’m sure many of you share my talent for miraculously rattling off at least 64 reasons to avoid breaking a sweat or upping the physical activity quotient. However, 64 reasons isn’t really a stretch, life does get in the way. We students have a lot to juggle… friends, family, classes, readings, dissertations, new seasons on Netflix. Oh, and don’t forget that minor detail of figuring out our lives when we actually graduate- but I’ll save that one for next time.
International students at Stirling University are juggling all these things in an entirely new (and rainy) environment. As an international postgraduate student, my biggest battle hasn’t been relocating across the Atlantic, adapting to a new academic system, navigating Tesco (although that is a close second) or wrapping my head around which way to look when I cross the street – my greatest challenge is maintaining my physical health.
I am three weeks into my master’s degree here at Stirling and I’ve decided it is FINALLY time to stop making excuses and embrace this fresh start. New year, new (active) me!
SO, HERE’S THE PLAN:
- Get involved in as many sports and exercise classes as I can reasonably (and without too much muscle pain) fit into my schedule. Let’s see what happens…
BOXERCISE: TIME TO KICK BUTT
I must admit I am most impressed with the broad range of exercise classes available to students and the Stirling community. There are classes I have never even heard of (ok, I know what you’re thinking, it’s just because she never works out) but truly, the class offerings are unique and dynamic- from Aquajog to Zumba, there is something for everyone. I’ve always dreamt of becoming one of those girls who can beat up any guy… so when I saw Boxercise listed on the Sport at Stirling exercise class timetable I was sold.
I’ll admit, I was nervous entering the Boxercise class and here’s why:
- I’ve never tried boxing
- I have no arm muscles, and I mean NONE
- I’m feeling apprehensive about my knee injury
As soon as I entered the class I felt welcome and at ease. The fun, pump up music definitely lightened the mood and ignited my inner “ready to kick butt” attitude. Many of us had never tried Boxercise, but this did not pose a problem- the class was tailored to challenge people of ALL ages, fitness and experience levels. Worried about a previous sports injury? Good news! My instructor worked around my knee injury and provided me with interesting and non-threatening alternatives. Boxercise is a unique concept as it combines boxing, training and exercise- skipping, planking, running, push-ups and punching pads. For those concerned about injury, don’t be. You won’t actually hit your opponent in Boxercise!
Boxercise offers an impressive number of health benefits. Most obvious, it allows you to punch out your aggression and pent up emotion. As we students enter mid-term season this will combat against those overwhelming feelings of anxiety and stress. Boxercise strengthens muscles and improves balance and as an aerobic exercise it pumps up our heart rate and works to build up physical endurance.
I left Boxercise feeling EMPOWERED and IN CONTROL. I felt mentally and physically stronger than I did one hour prior and that’s a great feeling.
PILATES: TIME TO GET BALANCED (AND ABS)
After such a positive experience with Boxercise, I was cautiously optimistic about Pilates class. I was nervous about entering Pilates and here’s why:
- I have never tried Pilates and know nothing about it
- I am not very “Zen” or good at breathing exercises
- Not only do I have weak arms, I have a weak core
I had no reason to be nervous. The environment was exceptionally supportive and, like Boxercise there were people of all ages, fitness and experience levels. The class included stretching, planking and movements with exercise balls- all while focusing on breathing. The workout had me breaking a sweat but also feeling deeply relaxed.
There are definite health benefits of Pilates. Pilates movements strengthen muscles, especially the core, and works to improve balance, posture, joint mobility and flexibility. And, for those more athletic than myself, research suggests that Pilates can prevent injury and increase overall athletic performance. Finally, studies suggest that Pilates promotes mindfulness and increased mental well-being and quality of life.
I left Pilates feeling CENTERED, REFERESHED and ready to hit the books!
CYCLE: TIME TO CYCLE (SWEAT) IT OUT
After my experience with Boxercise and Pilates, I’m actually EXCITED to check out Cycle class next week and here’s why:
- You don’t have to be an athlete to feel confident and comfortable in the exercise classes offered through Sport at Stirling
- This experience has been challenging and rewarding, but most of all it’s been F-U-N
- I’m meeting interesting people and feeling part of the Stirling community and experience
From one procrastinator to another, this is your chance- your chance to embrace the new school year and GET ACTIVE! Trust me, I know it’s easy to name 64 excuses why you CAN’T, but give it a try and you’ll find 64 reasons why you CAN!