Student shares exercise resources, tips for indoor days

Video tutorials for yoga, Zumba, Pilates, barre provide resources for keeping active inside one’s dorm

The winter months stretch long here in Portland, and with depleted hours of sun and frequent rain, it can be difficult to find ways to stay active. Much of our days as students are spent sitting: classes, homework, meetings, jobs, endless bus rides to Fred Meyer. WAnd while snowboarding and downhill skiing are wonderful wintry sporting opportunities, they are not the most time-efficient or accessible. But fear not, for there are plenty of ways to integrate exercise into your day without even leaving your dorm, albeit less satisfying for thrillseekers. 

Video guides can provide much-needed structure to a home workout—and it’s not all Jane Fonda out there. A yoga series that I got into over quarantine is Lindsey Samper’s, a yoga instructor based in Austin, Texas whose videos can be accessed on Youtube and Amazon Prime. I enjoy that she has faster-paced flows, which up your heart rate in addition to being relaxing. There is also a significant variety of focuses, with some episodes for core work, others for hip opening and even back pain relief. 

Yoga mats, however, can be expensive and difficult to find storage space for in a dorm room. Instead of using one, I turn my area rug over and do yoga on the tacky plastic underside so my hands and feet do not slide around. You can also wear socks with gripping rubber on the bottom to prevent falling while in positions like downward dog.

In addition to yoga, Zumba, Pilates and barre are also great exercise video options to explore, all of which can be found on YouTube and most streaming services. Both Zumba and Pilates are offered at Lewis & Clark as physical education classes, but if you would rather work off your own schedule than have the time commitment of another class, the breadth of videos for these is massive. 

Barre uses movements derived from ballet. Reminiscing my ballet days, I often do barre exercises without a video. I find standing and reading while doing tendus and dégagés is a fun way to keep my body mildly occupied while I knock out some homework. Barre videos sometimes require the use of a waist-level piece of furniture to hold onto, which most chair backs are perfect for. Barre exercises can be especially helpful for improving posture and alignment. 

If you have Kaiser Permanente health insurance, you have free access to ClassPass, “an on-demand audio and video library, which includes a wide variety of workouts and meditations ranging from 5 to 75 minutes,” according to the Kaiser website. United Healthcare and Medicare also have fitness opportunities available through a program called Renew Active, found with a little digging on their websites. However, these are geared more toward in person gym memberships and classes.

If too much screen time is already making your eyes melt, there are creative alternatives to exercise videos. There are lots of simple workout routines to start your morning with or pepper in throughout your day, such as the five-five-five-30. This signifies five push-ups, five squats, five lunges and a 30 second plank. Quick and easy-to-remember sets like this can make for energizing breaks during long study sessions.

Another option, if you do not mind getting a few stares from your hallmates, is going up and down the stairs in your residence hall. Doing this while listening to music, a podcast or an audiobook is a good alternative to taking a walk when the weather prevents you from going outdoors. 

Maybe try making it interactive, and recruit your roommate into a rousing game of balloon volleyball. Turning on some music and kicking off an impromptu dance party is another great go-to. Jump ropes and hula hoops are cheap and can be easily stowed under a bed—and both offer a playful way to build strength and stamina. 

I will not profess myself to be any kind of athletic expert. But as a lover of the outdoors, it can be hard to deal with restlessness when being inside and stationary so much of the day. Of course, our lovely Pamplin gym is always there, but sometimes it is more convenient (and less intimidating) to stay home. So no matter how you do it, a little movement can make your winter days feel much more well-rounded. 

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