Staying fit without the gym

by Dhruv Krishan

“There was nothing exciting, I felt bored often,” said Hiro Chemers, a UCLA Class of 2023 architecture graduate when describing his struggles to stay consistent with the gym. To make progress, you go to the same space to practice the same form for the same number of sets of the same exercise you did yesterday, last week and last month. While some people thrive in that routine, the monotony of a gym can often detract from your goal of leading a healthier and more active lifestyle. Here are some ways to combat this struggle.

1. Go for a Run

Running has a host of health benefits, namely better sleep, reduced risk of heart disease and improved joint health (WebMD). It can also be a great way to explore your immediate surroundings, and getting outdoors to run often mentally stimulates and relaxes people. While there are some lone wolves out there, running can be turned into a social activity as well. It’s quite common to have a running buddy, someone you feel comfortable with, who keeps you accountable. For UCLA in particular, you can almost always find people running at Royce Quad on any given night, along with Drake Stadium and the Intramural Field!

2. Pick up a Sport

Sports bring out a different side of you. Healthy competition urges you to give just a little bit more effort, and you get to express yourself. While all aspects of your fitness can be individually targeted at the gym, sports offer you the perfect all-in-one opportunity to benefit holistically. Team sports are a great way to find and build community at any stage of life, while individual sports can help you push your own boundaries. Sports are also highly accessible. A few unique club sports at UCLA that are open to students are Quidditch, Dragon Boat and Artistic Swimming!

3. Online Home Workouts

Home workouts really grew during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Most fitness institutions shifted their course content online, and video workouts boomed. It’s easy to forget that with all the various types of exercises available. All you need is enough space to contain yourself and an internet connection. Home workouts make it easier to go the extra mile as well, as sessions with trainers and coaches are cheaper online (Forbes). Coupled with the convenience of schedule flexibility, it’s an attractive option if shared public spaces aren’t up your alley!

4. Eat Healthy

You are what you eat! Nutrition is critical to your development as a human, and your overall health. It’s directly related to a stronger immune system and lower risk of diseases (WHO). While exercising is a conscious decision, ultimately it’s something that you have to devote time and energy to. If it’s completely outside the realm of possibility for you, then take care of your diet! Educate yourself about nutrients and ensure you’re getting the amount that your body needs. Here’s a good guide (Healthline) to check where you’re at and what you can do better.

We’ve all experienced a time where life has simply taken over, but your health and fitness are important aspects of your life. While many associate that with gym culture, that’s not necessarily the case! Take care of your health, and have fun doing it.

Featured Image: A young woman stretching arms while watching online workout tutorials on laptop at home. Photo via Adobe stock.

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