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The Upsides And Importance Of Exercise For Students

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

The Flynn Recreation Complex, also known as “the Plex,” prides itself on having something for everyone. Students and faculty can exercise on the aerobics machines, swim in the pools, and play sports like basketball, volleyball, and tennis. Given all the amenities, you would think that once you got to the Plex, working out would be easy. But in reality, the hardest part of exercising is often trying to overcome that tiny voice in your head telling you to quit.

Sometimes watching your progress on the Plex’s treadmill screen can feel like a cruel joke: Couldn’t they have made the digital track laps shorter so that you could feel like you were making more progress? For the first time, you are forced to doubt how realistic Mario Cart is: Is Bowser really moving that fast? While rounding the turns on the seemingly endless map, you think about how you could be back home in bed watching Downton Abbey or “reading a book.” All of a sudden, anything and everything seems momentously more important than completing four miles, and two miles seems sufficient.

Wanting to quit exercising early can make you concede your original goals and lower your fitness ambitions. It doesn’t always mean that you can’t physically complete your exercise, but it is often that you are mentally bored or unmotivated. To take a line from R. Kelly’s hit R&B song, “Bump N’ Grind”: Is your mind telling you no but your body is telling you yes?

Many students can relate to the mental struggle that comes with independent exercise. “I used to play volleyball and do track in high school. Working out is so much more fun when you’re working out as a team,” said Qing Wai Wong, A&S ’14. “I definitely have trouble motivating myself to work out alone.” Many former athletes like Wong attribute their physical fitness during an athletic season to the team environment and to the entertainment factor of a sport. Independent exercise can be less intense because people don’t always challenge themselves. Boredom and a lack of accountability may lead people to give up without reaching their full workout potential.

Fortunately, some people have found relief from their mental dilemma by utilizing the plethora of fitness classes offered at the Plex. The average Plex member can find stimulation at a fitness class because of the instructors’ leadership and the fun environment, like that of a sport, which makes exercising more fun. Fitness classes can help people defeat their weak minds in pursuit of strong bodies.

The Plex instructors are students with a passion for fitness. They can be a great resource at the Plex because they have informed perspectives on healthy living. Through their classes, instructors are able to bestow a bit of their wisdom. Just watching them dominate on the stationary bike or strike a perfect yoga pose can inspire the average student to strive for a healthier body. As if simply witnessing them at the front of the classroom wasn’t motivation enough, they also offer encouragement and advice. These students are instrumental in helping the Boston College community pursue happy, healthy lifestyles.

One of the keys to overcoming your mind is remembering why it is important, beyond vanity, to be physically fit. Juliane Wojno, A&S ’13, has been a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and fitness attendant at the Plex since 2011. Elaborating on her reason for staying fit, Wojno professed, “I am training for life. I train to be strong, healthy, and fit so that I can live a long life.” She went on to explain how staying fit will pay off in the long-run. “By working out, I am reducing my chances for things such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, osteoporosis, and the list goes on,” she said. Wojno exercises her own body for these reasons, but she also tries to instill this sense of long-term goals on her classes’ participants.    

Wojno seems to be touching on the fact that long-term goals may cause students to work out more consistently. On the other hand, Nancy Stolze, LSOE ’14, seems to have proof that short-term goals like getting a “hot body” can foster short, erratic periods of temporary physical fitness. “There are three times during the year when the Plex is especially busy: after winter break, before Spring Break, and after the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” Stolze noted. She theorized that these trends might be accredited to the idea that superficial fitness goals are not powerful, lasting motivators. “After the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, a bunch of girls are like, ‘why aren’t we 5’10” and a size zero?’” Stolze added sarcastically.

Since fitness is not everyone’s passion, it can be helpful to attend the fitness classes because usually you get to hear the instructors’ sound reasoning for staying fit. Who needs their own voice in the back of their head telling them to stop running when you can listen to the rational, informed voice of a Plex instructor at the front of a room.

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