Dancing, hiking, baton-twirling, and dragon boat racing may not be the most obvious exercises to many gym goers. But they are just the types of unconventional activities that inspire KPE’s MoveU blogger Julia Bartel to get her heart pumping.
Since October is Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s especially helpful to remember that getting active—in any and all ways—can help students to find some balance in a hectic schedule. “I had written my application blog post about the different sports I'd tried since coming to U of T, but I was really surprised that they thought I would be a good fit for the position.” But then the more the third-year student thought about it, the more she realized she is exactly the right person to motivate others. The way she sees it, her perspective on physical activity will help to break down “imaginary, idealized standards of what fitness is. A lot of students may think that being athletic and getting exercise belongs to people of a very specific, athletic lifestyle, as if your life has to revolve around exercise,” Bartel explains. "In reality, physical activity should be customized to fit your individual needs and schedule,” she explains.
U of T’s Athletic Centre and Goldring Centre have some great options for exploring less conventional activities. KPE offers drop-in mindful moments yoga and meditation year-round.
Registered classes like parkour and circus silks and drop-in BollyX offer unexpected ways to get active. Jill Cressy, KPE’s assistant manager of fitness and instruction, hopes more students will follow Julia’s lead and rethink their approach to getting active.
“Keeping fitness fun inspires students to keep engaging in physical activity and make fitness part of their daily routine,” says Cressy. “Being active helps manage stress. We feel more calm, confident and resilient. In addition, physical activity improves our immune system and helps us sleep better at night.”
Students seeking balance can take a cue from Bartel. “After I exercise, I feel more calm, centered, and proud that I did something good for my body and well-being. I like getting active because it's taking intentional time to improve myself.”