Keeping active while balancing school and other activities can be challenging, but it’s a great way to decompress and give yourself a moment to not think about anything that’s stressing you out.
Here are my top five exercises to try out:
1. Bench Pressing using a barbell
This semester, I took a weight training class, and my favorite exercise was bench pressing! It was one of the first things we learned and I’m so glad it was a part of our workout program!
2. Goblet Squat
I used to dislike these because they were so difficult for me, but once I got my form down, it was a piece of cake, and I increased the weight every single workout.
Tip: if you’re having the same trouble with squatting form as many people do, pull your hips back before you bend your knees and make sure to keep your spine neutral, instead of bending both hips and knees at the same time.
I didn’t start doing deadlifts until recently, but I find I really like them. The only thing I don’t like is the pain from gripping the bar. I haven’t had any calluses form, but my google search says I’m grabbing the weight wrong, and that’s something I’ll need to work on.
Okay, I use this one to stretch, not for its exercise, but I LOVE it so much I couldn’t exclude it! This pose is perfect for your hips and back, and I always feel like I can push myself a little harder than usual, especially after killing my legs with lunges.
5. Jump roping
Of course, I could not forget at least one cardio exercise! It’s really fun when you have a set of earbuds in and jump to the beat of your new favorite song. Besides, it never gets boring since there are tricks you can learn from the pros online.
I like to use an app called Strong (not sponsored, but if you thought it was, thank you because it’s actually very flattering) to keep track of workouts and learn to do more exercises. You can create an exercise template or use one of the example templates instead. There are written steps and videos, and images to help guide you. There is a premium service, but I’ve only been using the free version, and it’s good enough for me.
I’m not going to lie, weight training looks intimidating, but it’s actually so fun challenging yourself to see how much stronger you can get. Jump roping will be more challenging than you remember, but still just as fun! Try some of these out, or look to other people’s gym routines for inspiration. Working out doesn’t have to be the dreaded thing you need to check off your to-do list, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t like.
From exercise to fashion statements, tennis shoes (or tenny shoes as we say in Texas) have made themselves known to be useful in more ways than one. However, sometimes we get caught up in the “culture” of it all; instead of buying sneakers that are suitable for us, we buy those with popular brand names. Yet, at what point do we sacrifice comfort and functionality for clout and status?
In 2012, Tyler Haney, a track athlete turned designer, established an Instagram athletic wear company. With headquarters now in Austin, Outdoor Voices has become one of the biggest athleisure brands in the country, according to an Inc. Magazine article. And girl do they have it all: leggings, tops and of course, their best-selling exercise dress; but one of their biggest attention grabbers is their collaboration with Hoka One One, an outdoor activity shoe company.
When OV, as the technical apparel company is commonly called, started introducing more color options to their shoe collection, the demand spread like wildfire. For me, it wasn’t until I moved to Austin that I had ever even heard of Hoka One One, let alone Outdoor Voices (us rednecks don’t get no fancy athleisure wear out in hillbilly hell). Yet, when I got here, I almost felt dumb for not having the crossover of a lifetime. Everyone I knew went on and on about how comfortable the shoes were and how it felt like their feet were resting on clouds. Blah blah blah. Still, everyone I knew buying Hokas were only buying the OV collab, making me realize they were just buying into this idea of “if I own OV then I’m cool.”
Therefore, I decided to put that theory to the figurative test and see the benefits and popularity of Hoka One One’s compared to other leading running shoe companies, such as New Balance, Asics and Brooks. Mind you, I’m not a runner at all. In fact, I refuse to run. However, I also refuse to buy into a hype without proper knowledge and research, and I don’t think you should either.
So, as any rational Generation Z member would do, I took to Twitter and asked my 742 closest followers what their favorite shoes were when it came to physical activity. Can you guess what happened? If you think everyone said Hokas, you’re wrong. In fact, I had a mix of replies.
Salvador Santos, an educator at Wooldridge Elementary for the Boys and Girls Club of Austin, said he prefers Asics not only as his running shoe but also as everyday attire.
“What makes (Asics) comfortable to me is how supported your foot feels,” Santos said. “My feet feel hugged and it feels hard to lose my footing.”
Another response, from close friend and UT student, Rachel Casey, said she preferred running in Brooks instead of her Hokas. The International Relations and Global Studies and Psychology sophomore said even though she runs with people who prefer Hokas, the stability and cushion of Brooks allows her to feel more supported and confident when she runs.
On the other hand, Gabriella Sanchez, a government and English senior, said before she fully committed to running in Hokas, she first started out in New Balances. Designed with comfort, Sanchez said she found New Balances to be springy and responsive while also being cushioned and light. With Brooks, Sanchez said she found the shoes to be more secure and durable than the New Balances, but when she was introduced to Hokas, the whole story changed.
“Once I stumbled across Hoka One Ones, I knew I could probably never go back to those other brands,” Sanchez said. “I mostly do distance runs on the road, and the amount of cushion Hokas provided was unbeatable. Fit is also incredibly important to me, and I felt (Hokas) had a roomier toe box compared to the other brands. My legs and knees don’t feel as bothered after a high-impact run as they did with my lower-cushioned Brooks.”
You may be wondering what this means. Should you go buy a pair of Hoka One Ones right now, or should you check out some other brands? Well, before you spend $100 on a pair of running shoes that don’t give you the support you need, go to your local running store and have them match your walk, run, gait and form with the right pair of shoes (and they do it for free!!). Because, at the end of the day, if you’re going to commit to a high-paced, cardio inducing workout, you need to make sure you have shoes that are genuinely suited for your needs, not just your social status.
So, don’t worry about what everyone around you is wearing on their feet, because inside those laced up things are still 10 toes, just like you and me.
What’s the hype about the Peloton Bike Cycling has become the hottest exercise trend in recent years. Studios such as SoulCycle and CycleBar have forefronted this movement by providing 60-minute long rides led by an instructor accompanied by hit music and dramatic light changes. These classes are said to be therapeutic for the body, mind and soul, but they are not so easy on the pockets. These classes range from $30-$50 apiece, a costly price compared to home-workouts, regular biking, or a gym membership.
However, the cycling experience is evolving and is now available in the comfort of your own home with the Peloton Bike. This exercise machine is unlike any other with a 21.5-inch tablet and a sleek black design is sure to impress any cycling lover. Its popularity has continued to rise amidst quarantine as many individuals are looking for an at-home alternative to their normal workout routine, but similar to cycling studios, the price of this luxury bike is steep.
While the bike itself is expensive, there are necessary accessories that are needed to go along with the exercise machine such as bike shoes and a bike mat. Not to mention that the bike itself does not come with a subscription to any of the live workout classes, but it has to be purchased for an additional $39 a month. A subscription is almost a necessity for the Peloton bike. Without it, it is just an extremely expensive stationary bike.
When purchasing the original bike, the bike+ was recently released at an even higher cost-value, there are multiple package options.
Bike Basics ($1,895): Peloton bike
Bike Essentials ($2,045): Peloton bike, one pair of shoes, one pair of weights, one pair of headphones
Bike Works ($2,145): Peloton bike, one pair of shoes, one pair of weights, one pair of headphones, one heart rate monitor, and one bike mat
Bike Family ($2,345): Peloton bike, two pairs of shoes, one pair of weights, two pairs of headphones, two heart rate monitors, one bike mat, and two water bottles
All packages come with delivery and assembly as well as a 12-month warranty. While these prices might seem outrageous to many individuals, myself included, the investment might be cheaper in the long run for someone who is an avid cyclist.
Let’s talk about some major benefits of the Peloton Bike.
It’s convenient. With free delivery and assembly, the bike is ready to ride when you are. Not to mention, it is in the comfort of your own home a reassuring fact during a global pandemic
It’s versatile. There are a plethora of different classes, instructors and music tracks to listen to while working out. It seems as if it would be impossible to get bored of the same old classes with so many different options to choose from.
It’s motivating. Many users have lauded that this bike is a huge encouragement to workout on a regular basis. Maybe because its steep price, but also because of the entertaining nature of the classes and the wide variety of classes.
The above reasons sound too good to be true, well, because they are. Here are some demotivators for purchasing this bike.
It’s pricey. Perhaps this is the biggest negative of the bike. Not only is the set up costly, but the additional monthly service subscription seems excessive. It seems to me like this bike would only be a justified investment to people who are already spending a lot of money on in-person cycling classes.
It’s complicated. Owners of the bike have also argued that they have gone months riding the bike in the wrong seating position unknowingly, and that it can be hard to search for classes using the tablet. The downside of using the bike at home is there is no instructor there to correct your form or instruct you on the use of the bike.
Overall, the Peloton bike is a sight to look at and the benefits and disadvantages of its services differ for all people. Try out a cycling class and see for yourself the persuasive nature of cycling classes, perhaps you could be the proud new owner of a Peloton bike.
If you’re like me, not only are you a full time student, but you’re also juggling a job, being involved in organizations, homework, creative projects and somehow finding the time to have some iota of a social life. College, really just life in general, is rough and the stigma around mental health makes it all the more difficult to face. In case you’re unfamiliar with the topic, mental health is somewhat taboo in most social situations so people tend to put it on the back-burner.
To quote the words of a popular Vine, “That is not correct”. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, if not more so. We all have issues that we’re doing our best to conquer on our own. (And you go, queen, you’re doing great.) But just in case you think you need some advice or help from someone who is struggling through the same thing, here are some tips that help me to get through those especially rough days.
Make a list; of things that matter and things that don’t, of things you’re thankful for, of things you know you want to change.
I know it sounds cheesy. But I did this my freshman year, when I was feeling especially overwhelmed for the first time and it helped me to take a deep breath, both mentally and physically. I made a list of all the good things in my life and all the things that weren’t going too well for me. Then I went through the latter list and wrote out why they weren’t important or how I could make those things better. This could go downhill very quickly so be sure to pay more attention to the happier list and not put too much importance on the troublesome list. Or, better yet, only make a happy list. I’m personally more of a realist so I like to consider both sides but if you’d rather look at the optimistic side of things, you do you, boo.
It’s hard to get away from responsibilities. For some people, i.e. me, it’s hard to say no when people ask you to do things so you end up with too many rolls on your metaphorical plate. However, it’s important to take care of yourself as well as others. Take some time out of the day, or at the very least once a week, to do something for yourself. It could be as simple as taking a break from homework to having a bubble bath and reading your favorite book while a face mask soaks your skin with all kinds of moisturizers. Is it obvious which one I’m fantasizing about more?
Because so much time out of the day is dedicated to schoolwork/things we have to do, I think surrounding yourself with things you love when you can becomes even more important. By this, I mean that you should find things that bring you more joy than anything else. If you’re stuck in an organization that only stresses you out, maybe it’s time to find another place to spend your time. If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy, maybe it’s time to move on. And this doesn’t have to involve people; in fact, sometimes the things you’re surrounding yourself with aren’t people at all. If you want to go to your room, close the door and read books for hours on end, then that’s what you need to do. Not wanting to be around people is completely normal and is something I find myself wanting often. Although, it is important to note that you should be careful not to push away people that care about you. There are ways to be alone that don’t hurt those who want to spend time with you. It’s all about communication and letting them know that it’s not them, it’s you. Unless you’re breaking up with someone…then you should never use that line.
Trust and believe that I know how awful this sounds. I hardly have time to exercise, let alone want to. My mom always told me to do this in high school and I blew her off due to the simple fact that I didn’t want to. However, now it’s one of the most effective strategies I use to battle anxiety and stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise and other physical activities reduce fatigue, improve alertness and concentration, and enhance overall cognitive function. It doesn’t even have to be as time consuming as going to the gym; meditation, going for a walk, even just taking a really deep breath is enough to release those sweet, sweet endorphins. One of my best friends does yoga right after she wakes up and she swears by it. It’s not about having the time but about making the time.
*My Chemical Romance voice* Sing it for the boys, sing it for the girls…
SINGING! Jamming is the best form of self-healing. Unfortunately, I don’t have any reliable statistics to back up this theory. But I have years and years of personal experience that I could share, if you cared enough to ask. Blasting your favorite songs and belting out the lyrics either in the car, with your friends, or whilst performing in the shower is one of the easiest and most fun ways to occupy your time and your mind. Or, if you ever need a good cry, create a sad playlist (or you can use mine) and cry out every failed test, dead pet and broken heart you’ve ever had. You’ll feel much better afterwards. My roommates think I’m crazy for suggesting it but it’s therapeutic to me.
It sounds simple but it’s really not. We get overwhelmed and flustered and then, next thing we know, our eyes burst open at 2 o’clock in the morning because we forgot about that essay that’s due tomorrow. So, find some time in the day to sit down and feel productive. It can be as easy as sitting in the Union and cracking out a few emails or writing your thesis for that paper you’re dreading. Hopefully this will make you feel more confident in your work and inspire you to continue your progress when you get home. But, if not, it’s a way to justify binging Game of Thrones when you should be working on homework.
I’m a film major so I’m fairly biased when it comes to this. However, transparency aside, it’s hard to overthink when you’re not thinking about anything at all. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit down, put on your favorite movie and let the actors take you away. My particular favorite is when you decide to watch a movie from your childhood. That’s when the nostalgia hits you in the gut. But it’s a love punch so it doesn’t hurt.
Find healthier outlets that don’t involve mind-altering substances
You know the saying: say nope to dope. This is definitely not to shame anyone who decides to partake but if you’re dealing with stress or anxiety, it’s really not a good idea. A popular myth is that some drugs, such as marijuana and alcohol, help you to forget about your problems and just make you feel g o o d. The truth of the matter is that these things can make you feel better for a short period of time but in the end, you just feel worse than before you started. It may be tempting but it’s always better to just say nay. Instead, have a talk with some friends or try any of the other tips on the list before resorting to this option.
Again, I have no statistic to back this up and this is completely a subjective opinion because I personally use the title of “writer” to describe myself. However, there is a reason that every cheesy teen pic has a character that keeps a diary. Writing out your feelings helps you to sort out your inner workings. Not to mention, writing is fun. Keep a daily journal, either by writing or typing, and chronicle your day in the life. You can write about anything you want, from what you had for breakfast to which professor you have a crush on this semester. What better person to vent to besides yourself?
Finally, there is my personal favorite: PUPPIES! If you’re like me, you had to leave your dogs back at home and from time to time, you go through dog withdrawal while at school. The easiest cure for this is to find a pup to love on in their absence. You could find a family member or friend to dog sit for or you could even volunteer at a local shelter, if you have the time. Regardless, it’s hard to be upset when you’re loving on a cuddly mammal. Dogs are support animals for a reason. Of course, not everyone is a dog person. This is also applicable to cats, birds, hamsters and, if you’re like my roommate, giant lizards. Animals are almost always better company than people anyway.
As much as I want them to be, none of this advice is foolproof. Life is hard and sometimes it takes more than advice from a 20-year-old to help you feel better. Please, check out these links if you’re going through a rough time and are in need of professional help. Remember: you are not alone and you are loved. You’re doing the best you can.