I Wish I Knew This Before Going to My College Gym for the First Time
College student workout plans are varied and unique. Here’s how you can stay fit all semester long.
Embedded in the cost of tuition at many colleges and universities these days is a membership to a gym or a recreation center, oftentimes located right on campus. Concerns over “putting on the freshman 15” are outdated — college students these days feel more body-positive than their parents’ generation, and they want to be physically healthier, too.
But for some of these students, their first trip to the college rec center is their first trip to any gym in many years. They might not know or understand what their rec center offers and how to take advantage of those offerings. Fletcher Roberts, the director of sports performance and assistant wrestling coach at Alma College, in Alma, Michigan, has seen it all.
We asked Fletcher for some tips – and maybe a little tough love – on how beginner-level college students can get the most out of fitness resources during their time at college:
Pick a plan — then stick to it
Fletcher’s first tip is likely pretty obvious: Figure out why you want to go to the gym. Do you want to relieve stress, lose weight, gain muscle, improve as an athlete, or something else altogether? A fitness class, or personal trainer, can help you devise a plan.
The next step, however, is a little less obvious: Stick to it. Fletcher says that — now, in the age of social media, more than ever — students he sees in the gym are suffering from a “fear of missing out,” or FOMO. They see their friends at other schools doing a workout routine that looks good, so why can’t they do the same thing?
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with what your friends are doing, but your plan is yours. Stick to it.
Put your calendar to work
Just as important as knowing how to use a weight machine is knowing how to use your online calendar, Fletcher says. College students have heard variations on this theme time and time again: “Your mom isn’t going to wake you up in the morning to go to class any more! You need to do it yourself.” But that sentiment takes on new meaning in the gym.
If you don’t get enough sleep, Fletcher says, it will show up in your workouts. If you skip breakfast, it will show up in your workouts. If you spend your time at the gym taking selfies and goofing off with friends, it’ll show up in your workouts.
So, set your online calendar — or do whatever you need to do — to accommodate all of the tasks you need to do that day. Then, stick to the plan.
Everything in moderation
It should probably go without saying that if you’re making a serious step toward physical fitness, you’re probably thinking about your eating habits too. Fletcher says that while it’s a great idea to eat well, he abides by a “90/10” philosophy on diet — healthy foods 90 percent of the time and splurging 10 percent.
Be smart about it, of course. Don’t schedule your splurge day on the same day as your workouts. But enjoy! At this point, you’ve earned it.
Fitness and wellness programs at Alma College offer you everything you need to reach your goals. The Alan J. Stone Recreation Center offers personal training, fitness classes, yoga and more. Read all about it at alma.edu. And if health and fitness are your passion, check out Alma’s Integrative Physiology and Health Science program!