There are days when not even a new playlist, the latest issue of Glamour, AND Tough Love on VH1 could make my 45 minute elliptical sesh fly by. My mind is bored, and so is my body. And when my body is bored, it’s not burning as many calories. The human body is designed to be efficient so when I do the same exercise day after day (which gets boring), my body uses fewer calories to do the same amount of work on day 30 than, say, on day 1.
The same goes for you, people.
If your mind is bored, your body is bored.
As college students, we’re bored enough sitting in lecture each day; our workouts should be something that we look forward to! And at the risk of sounding like your mom, college is the time to try new things, so why not new methods of exercise? Cross-training (varying different types of exercise or activity), also helps you burn more calories by tricking your body with new and unfamiliar movements. It can also prevent exercise-related injuries, as you’re working different muscle groups and using different parts of your body for each activity. And, taking group fitness classes is an awesome way to meet people. Studies have shown that exercising with other people increasing the level of endorphins that we release during a workout, keeping us coming back for more! Some universities even let you take sports or fitness classes for CREDIT! You pretty much just have to show up. Good motivation if you find it hard to get out of bed and to the gym, or wouldn’t otherwise have time to exercise.
If you’ve been doing the same 45 minute elliptical workout for the past few months (or few years!) it’s time to switch things up. Here are a few ideas to add a little mix to your workout:
Spinning / Group Cycling: An intense workout on a stationary spinning bike set to upbeat music in which an instructor will take you through a ride that will get your heart pumping, your legs working, and engage your core! Cycling can be adapted to your fitness level, and helps build endurance and muscle strength. It also tones your glutes like nothing else will and is an amazing cardio alternative.
Hooping: (As in hula.) Woooo, third grade! The hoops are bigger and weighted so that anyone can get the hang of it. Hooping builds core strength, tones the entire body, increases flexibility, and is a great cardio workout! You’ll also look sexy moving those hips!
Pole Dancing: A workout to make your Papa proud.
Belly, Ballroom, Salsa, or Hip Hop Dance: Any of these forms of dance will give you a great cardio and toning workout, while teaching you concentration, grace, and coordination!
Fencing: Fencing helps improve coordination, mental speed, discipline, and athleticism while giving you a great cardio workout. Learn to outwit your opponent and feel like a pirate. Cool? Clearly.
Surfing: Cameron Diaz attributes her body to surfing. Enough said. But really, surfing is a great workout for toning each and every muscle in your body. Legs help you up and keep you on the board, arms paddle out, and your core helps you keep your balance. Hot surf instructor also a plus.
Excursion Sports: Many schools have excursion clubs that take members on kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking adventures. Each of these activities is a way to get some fresh air, a great workout, and an opportunity to flirt with your kayaking guide or trail guide.
Yoga (any variation): There are countless variations of Yoga classes available today, but don’t think that you need to take one with a name that you can’t pronounce to get the best experience. Good old Yoga will do the trick too. Yoga is wonderful for improving posture, flexibility, muscle strength, relaxation, strengthening the skeletal system, and releasing stress.
Boot Camp: Be prepared for pain with any boot camp! The instructor acts as a drill sergeant and will have you doing calisthenics, running steps, pushups, pull-ups, and pushing you to the limit. Be ready to work for this whole body cardio and toning workout. If your school is near the beach, the class may be held there. It’s tough, but it’s worth it!
IM Sports: Intramural sports are a great way to play the sport that you loved in high school, or to try a new one. It’s also a great way to meet people. Most teams are co-ed, and there are different skill-level options. Form a team with your floormates and sign up!
Water Aerobics: Old ladies in swim caps DOES come to mind, but it’s a great low-impact cardio workout. Resistance from the water also helps you tone without feeling like you’re doing that much work!
Circuit Training: Taught as a group class, circuit training classes can include cardio dance, cardio circuit, kickboxing, step interval, hi-lo, body pump, buts and guts…the list goes on and on! These classes combine high intensity cardio and typical weight training with small hand weights or resistance bands.
Self Defense / Martial Arts: Relieve stress, kick ass, and build muscle strength and endurance? AND be able to not only dress up like Lara Croft for Halloween but also roundhouse kick like her? Yes please.
Pilates: Tried and true, Pilates is a great toning workout for your whole body. Focused breathing and relaxation are also benefits of this low-key workout.
Every school or gym will offer some or all of these classes, so check your school’s fitness center and see what they got. Just find something you like and you’ll not only enjoy working out more, but see greater benefits, too.