From working out to working in: Your guide to wint...

From working out to working in: Your guide to winter quarter fitness

Get fit from the comfort of home. All you need is an internet connection and maybe a couple water bottles!

(Kristen Hardwick/StockSnap)

Between virtual classes, a rigorous academic schedule and colder temperatures, it may feel impossible to prioritize physical activity during the pandemic. Wrong! Northwestern students can try more virtual and affordable workout options available than ever. Here are four tips to getting started on your fitness journey.

Check out virtual fitness classes at Henry Crown Sports Pavilion (aka SPAC, or Sports Pavilion and Athletic Center) 

Henry Crown Sports Pavilion offers both in person and virtual classes and amenities. (Courtesy of NU Recreation)

Make a reservation to use SPAC’s facilities in person, socially distanced. Or, to do workouts at home, access any of SPAC’s free, 30-minute virtual fitness classes, such as Zumba, yoga and high-intensity cardio classes. All you have to do is register for the class via Zoom any time before it starts.

Jenna Howard-Delman, a Northwestern junior, teaches virtual barre classes for SPAC, a great Pilates and dance fusion class for all levels. “You’re focusing on building muscle, gaining strength, mobility and balance posture,” Howard-Delman says. 

SPAC is also offering a virtual breathing course for $25 and free white light therapy  to encourage healthy mental health habits among students, says Nancy Tierney, fitness and wellness director of SPAC. “You don’t really have to suffer from a seasonal affective disorder, to benefit. You know, I think we all feel those stretches where there’s no sunlight for days, and it’s just an incredible resource.”

Go outdoors

A jog or brisk walk outdoors serves as great cardio in any weather. (Pixabay)

Personal trainer Heather Collins, founder of Heather Collins Training in Evanston recommends taking advantage of the great outdoors.  “If you’re looking outside, I think walking and jogging are the two best cardio options,” she says. Another cardio one: stair climbing, which you can easily do on campus! The Main Library stairs and the stairs leading up to Norris are two great options. Follow these tips to stay safe and warm when breaking a sweat in cold weather.

Try a YouTube workout

YouTube has thousands of free workout videos that make reaching your fitness goals accessible and affordable. Northwestern senior, Erica Henschen, recommends YouTube as a great resource for beginners or those with limited space. “There’s so many resources out on the internet and on Instagram and on YouTube that it’s really not that difficult if you’re just in your room,” she says. “You can find there are people who cater to every single circumstance. If you don’t have space, there will be a YouTube video on that. And it’s a great introduction for you to build up your confidence and build up some comfort with working out.”

Kalpita Chakote, a Northwestern senior, recently discovered YouTuber Heather Robertson, who has over a million subscribers. “I’d definitely recommend them to anyone,” she says. Robertson’s channel features free workouts, including bodyweight workouts, Pilates and strength training.

If you’re pressed for time, YouTuber Katie Austin’s channel has dozens of workout videos under 15 minutes. Check out her Study Break Routine for college students that clocks in at 7 minutes— the perfect amount of time to give your brain a break and get moving!

No weights? No problem!

It is possible to build up strength and endurance with no equipment, especially if you’re a beginner, Collins says. “I think looking at bodyweight training first would be the most important thing and basic body weight movements— like pushups, dips, pike presses, squats, lunges, or split steps, split meals, side steps. And the nice thing about it is as you get stronger, you can up the workload.” 

But if you’re looking to add some weight to your strength workouts, you might want to look around your house first before spending money on dumbbells. Collins says her clients have used jugs of liquid laundry detergent, bleach, milk and water bottles. Maybe even try busting out a few reps with your organic chemistry textbook!


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