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Exercising to Fight Off the Freshman Fifteen

In high school it was easy to stay healthy and in shape. Your parents made sure you ate a well-balanced diet and your sport’s coach made sure you were at practice everyday. However, in college, without those people looking after you, keeping fit is entirely up to you.

The big thing to remember if you want to avoid packing on Freshman pounds is that even if you eat well, it’s important to exercise.

If you played a sport in high school and wish to continue it, whether your sport was badminton or lacrosse, the chances are you will be able to find a club team at Duke. Joining a club team with weekly practices is an easy transition from high school.

Admittedly though, sports teams aren’t for everyone. Not everybody has the hand eye coordination for softball. You may have hated field hockey enough in high school that you couldn’t imagine playing it for four more minutes, let alone four more years. So the obvious alternative to playing a sport is hitting the gym. Brodie (East Campus gym) and Wilson (West Campus gym) come equipped with just about any machine you could want.

Unfortunately, no matter how many times we say we’re going to go to the gym, it almost always seems like a better idea to stay in our rooms and watch a TV show or hang with friends. Finding motivation to get on the treadmill and stare at the same wall for 45 minutes can be hard. Try setting small goals for yourself (for every 20 minutes of elliptical training, you can watch 20 minutes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.)

If you still can’t get motivated, don’t despair—there are other options.

Some people love running outside since you can actually see your progress as the scenery changes. Duke has some very nice (not too long) paths to run on. The loop around East Campus is 1.7 miles, and if you want a slightly longer run, another popular route for runners is between East and West, which is around 2 miles each way. If you are not the most talented runner (like me), don’t be afraid to walk parts of it until you can work up to running the whole thing. Bringing a friend along will also help you keep pace, and they’ll make the walking parts way more fun as you gossip.

If you need a regular fitness obligation or you like being with a group, the gyms offer several classes, all of which are free. There is yoga in Brodie for those who like to relax while they tone, and Wilson offers more high-energy classes such as Cardio Dance and Zumba. Dancercise class sound intimidating? Don’t worry if you are not the most coordinated or rhythmic person, I can assure you that you will not be the worst person in the class. I will be. But I go anyway because it’s really fun.

For those of you who really want to burn calories, there’s also the typical spin class. While it’s no Soul Cycle, it will give you a workout. The classes are free and fun, and if you don’t like it, you have no obligation to keep going, so you should definitely try them out. You can find the full list of all classes on the Duke Recreation website.

While not being financially locked into a class is great, it also means nobody and nothing is forcing you to work out as the semester gets busier and busier. If you want to ensure you will exercise every week without fail, the best option is to add a pass/fail PE class into your schedule. It’s still drop/add so it’s not too late to enroll in one. The PE department offers a whole variety of classes. There are general ones like Fitness for Women, or if you’ve always wanted to learn to play a specific sport like tennis, this is the perfect opportunity—sign up for a beginning level class.

Finding a way to exercise and avoid the dreaded Freshman fifteen may seem daunting, but establishing a routine will keep you on top of it, and with all of the variety Duke has to offer, it is easy to find a work out that you look forward to rather than dread.

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