Find fitness alternatives outside of the gym

Photo by Janis Williams

Yoga Jungle founder Jenna Richards practicing aerial yoga in her studio in Bowmanville

The idea of working out at a traditional gym can be daunting. For some, it might be the internal dialogues of ‘How do I use this equipment?’ or ‘Is everyone watching me?’ Perhaps the repetitiveness of feeling like a mouse on a wheel is not appealing to you.

What if you could have so much fun working out, you didn’t even realize how much exercise you were getting?

There is a plethora of fitness fun to be had in the Durham Region – on and off campus.

Angie Wood is the fitness coordinator for Durham College and UOIT. She also teaches a GNED called Find Your Fit, a class that gives students the tools to discover how to stay active across their lifespan. She says there are a slew of different activities available for students of all fitness levels.

“You may never step foot in a gym [but can] be in optimal shape and live a fantastic and healthy life,” Wood says.

The Flex, located at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre (CRWC), brings a wide range of fitness classes to students. The self-defence class is free of charge or, for a nominal fee, you can register for group fitness classes including yoga, Zumba, spin, Pilates and athletic training.

Alexandra Campbell is a UOIT student studying forensic psychology. She says she used to go to the gym but didn’t spend a lot of time there, choosing to walk on the treadmill briefly. The traditional gym setting didn’t motivate her. She says students should look into the different resources the campus offers. Campbell attends a variety of fitness classes regularly at the Flex.

“For me it’s just been a really great way to get active and moving at some point in the week,” Campbell says. “It helps break up the time spent sitting, studying and in lectures.”

To find an exercise buddy in the area, you can use an app called The Whistle. It is similar to Tinder but connects people with like-minded fitness goals.

The Campus Ice Centre offers a free skate Monday through Friday between noon and 2 p.m. Simply flash your student card and you can enjoy a complimentary skating session.

The Campus Fieldhouse is lined with indoor turf. You can drop in to play cricket, Ultimate Frisbee and soccer. You and a group of friends can also book this space and play to your heart’s content.

If playing team sports is more up your alley, drop in to play badminton, tennis, volleyball and basketball in the gymnasiums.

Innovative fit desks will soon be introduced to our campus. Students will be able to sit at a desk, while riding a bike.

“It’s always on our radar to do as much as we can to get students active because we know that [when] they’re happier, they feel better,” says Wood.

This summer, students are welcome to take advantage of free yoga outdoors every Wednesday in Polanski Commons. Be one with the sunshine, yoga poses and your mat.

If you are looking to take your yoga practice to new heights, then aerial yoga may be calling your name.

Unlike traditional yoga, the suspended hammock relieves body pressure, allowing you more flexibility to find your pose.

Jenna Richards, founder of Yoga Jungle in Bowmanville, fell in love with this practice after it helped to heal her own body from a rib injury.

She says aerial yoga isn’t only an enjoyable experience for your mind and body, it also has a lot of health benefits. She says inversions help with spinal alignment while building strength.

The added bonus to this experience is you can’t help but indulge in your playful side, according to Richards.

“When you are upside down, you’re laughing, which brings your stress right down,” she says.

Trampolines are what childhood memories are made of. The active fun of jumping can continue at any age with a trip to Sky Zone trampoline park in Whitby.

You can burn up to 1,000 calories during a 60-minute SkyFit class. This form of exercise is intense but you can go at your own pace and do what you are comfortable with. SkyFit classes are co-ed and all fitness levels from beginner to advanced can participate.

Sky Zone also offers ultimate dodgeball leagues. Dodgeball courts can be rented by groups for some active fun.

There are multiple ways to mix fitness and fun. Take your cue from Nike and just do it by experiencing new ways to exercise.

“Find something that hooks you so it’s not a task to get yourself there,” Wood says.