Summer is the time for relaxing and having fun: picnics, barbeques, ice-cream and wine or late-night hangouts with friends… But even if you feel like your summer has been active enough, the closer the start of semester gets, the more actively Instagram and Facebook remind you of “how to look classy at your first day of college” or “how to lose that summer weight”. Looking fit or lean is not the ideal reason to start exercising, but finding a form of training that you truly enjoy will help to keep up your spirits and maintain your health both physically and mentally. If you think that fall is the perfect time to add something new to your life then let’s look closer at what the sport facilities in the campus and around Helsinki have to offer. What should you consider when looking for the ideal form of training?
Step 1. What kind of a person are you?
Do you like to face challenges head on or prefer to start things slowly? Do you value technique and patience over speed and high intensity? Are you aiming for body shaping or simply improving your health? Acknowledging these definitions that characterize you are key elements in helping you to connect with the right exercise.
Step 2. What is your background?
Maybe you were a volleyball star in high school or have always loved dancing? Maybe you’ve never really been into sports before but there is something that always seemed inspiring yet you have no idea how to start? No fear! There are always beginners’ options for those who want to start a new sport, and advanced classes for those who want to pick up where they’ve left off.
Step 3. Unisport is the easiest way.
Have you heard that Unisport just opened its doors again in the city center (Yliopistonkatu 4)? Now that all Unisport locations are open, there are even more options for starting training, no matter which campus you study at. Unisport offers gym facilities, group training and a variety of courses to cater to everyone’s needs and preferences for a very student-friendly price (find more at unisport.com). There is bound to be something for everyone!
Step 4. Straight into business.
If you opened the schedule for group training right now, you might see many confusing titles there. For a beginner, it can naturally be difficult to figure out the differences between classes that you might not have even heard of. If you are active and want to work on your body but are afraid of too harsh of a start, pay attention to classes such as “Body”, “Interval Body”, “Fitball”, “Core Training”, “Easy Training” and “Spin Moderate Beat” or “Spin Basic” (depending on your bicycle riding skills). These classes will help shape your body but will not kill you at first try. “Body”, “Fitball” and “Interval Body” require some additional equipment such as exercise balls or dumbbells, but they are not very frazzling, and since each muscle group is trained in sets, you won’t burn yourself out right in the start. Spinning, on the other hand, is more about cardio; it trains your endurance and is great for losing weight. The best part about spinning is that you can control the intensity yourself.
If there is an ambitious warrior spirit living inside of you, then let me introduce you to Functional Training. The main goal of this training is to make your muscles work on their maximal level, even if you had no idea these muscles even existed before the training. That’s how functional training combines both, cardio and power exercises at high intensity level. These classes are good if you already have some training experience and want to challenge yourself further. Just be careful if you have any problems with joints or knees, as functional training includes a lot of jumping.
“Body Combat”, “HIIT”, “Total Training” and a new-comer class “Body Attack” are titles you should learn in order to get into functional training. “Total Training” is training in a circle of about 8-12 “stations”, and every station has a certain exercise you should do for about 60-90 seconds. The training consists of three circles and it is quite hard but a great opportunity to define your strong and weak points. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) combines exercises in high and low intensity and usually you work with your own body weight here. Body Combat is a mix of martial arts and cardio training and it is the best way to relieve your stress and get out your anger if you have some. Also, this is a class you can try without any previous experience – there are many levels of Body Combat and the trainer usually shows harder and easier modifications of the moves. For Body Attack, on the other hand, you should be in good shape since it is one of the most intensive and effective cardio trainings that allow you to burn up to 700 calories in an hour.
For the dancing queens there are also a lot of suitable classes. If you do not like exhausting classes that take your breath away, or strict technique, but prefer to get joy with your every move, dance fitness might be the sport for you. “Zumba”, “Latin Mix”, “Happy Dance” and “SH’BAM’ are “must know” classes for fans of dance. This is a great way to raise your mood and to relax during the week.
Do your trainings look like a kingdom of meditation and calmness? Then your path is yoga and pilates. You will not sweat to death under heavy equipment, but it does not mean that your muscles are not working and your body will not improve. “Body Mind” lessons (as these classes are generally called) effect not only your physical but your mental condition as well. It also uses inner muscles which do not get to work as much in strength or cardio trainings. Pilates and yoga classes (yin, flow and ashtanga as well) often help with back and posture problems. This kind of training is best for people with too much stress and hassle in their daily lives.
Despite the comprehensive selection of classes and unbeatable prices, dare to venture outside of Unisport for something even more intriguing! One of the most popular sports at the moment is pole dancing, which combines strength, flexibility and choreography and has thousands of followers around the world. You can always find a beginners’ group and become part of this inspiring world. Many pole dancers start to compete after some time, so this is also an opportunity to grow and make progress with your skills in the sport. Another popular sport is aerial dance. If you’ve ever dreamt of feeling like a princess, flying into the air using two fabrics in a magical way, this is your chance. Aerial dance includes many variations (silks, hoop, cube, trapeze, etc.), which not only make the sport versatile but also guarantee amazing shots to light up your Instagram game. Aerial sports give you a precious opportunity to express yourself and your feelings through a beautiful dance limited only by your imagination. If you got interested, check out for example Taitoliikuntakeskus, as they provide aerial sports classes in Helsinki. You can contact one of the trainers for more information.
Whatever you choose, doing sports is not only about training and health. It is also a way to make your leisure time diverse, to find new friends and to adapt into a new environment. Most importantly, it should bring you joy, not to be one of the annoying obligatory parts on your to-do-list. Feel free to experiment and do not feel afraid to fail sometimes on the way to your ideal training. No matter how long it takes you to find that perfect sport, your body and mind both will thank you in the end.