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Your UCF Gym Start-Up Guide

Most UCF collegiettes™ have an obsession with workout clothes. It seems like an odd style to choose as shorts that make swishy noises are meant for the track and neon spandex looks best stained with sweat, but if the fashion-forward running shoes are only worn for the amazing arch support and promotion of pedal health, then I suppose they would be paired best with gym clothes. But you do have one perfect reason to sport your workout clothes on campus. Once you make it past the Student Union, the library and then Marketplace, you’ll see it across Gemini Boulevard.

Whether you are new to UCF or you’ve been here for four years, the Recreation and Wellness Center, “the gym” for short, has been an ever-changing structure. It has recently expanded its two floors, built a full length lap pool, and added more basketball courts and racquet ball courts. Its landscaping frames the concrete steps to the front door, which leads straight to the second floor. The areas for exploration continue past the front desk (after you swipe your student ID or register your fingerprint that can be read by the entrance scanners).

So, ladies give your favorite four letter word to the dreaded freshman fifteen because your workout is essentially free – funding to keep the gym in upstanding condition is provided by a fee already included in tuition costs. The UCF gym also has flexible hours, making its equipment and space available to you on your own schedule. To keep our beautiful and unique bodies healthy and happy there are a few components to a workout you’ll need.

Cardio
Cardio workouts like running on the track, a treadmill, elliptical, and bike riding get your heart rate up. They are also prime fat and calorie burning exercises. The gym has no shortage of equipment to help you here. The second floor of the gym has rows of treadmills, circular motion elliptical machines, stair climbers, stationary bikes, and a soft track measuring 1/8 of a mile. There is also a digital time clock hanging from the ceiling above the track to help you keep your time.

Although they are all geared for cardio, different machines work different muscle groups at different intensities, so experiment to see what feels right to you. Just a tip: Running on a track or a treadmill might be sensitive to your joints because of the impact of your feet hitting the flat surface. Elliptical machines are great for this because your feet don’t pound against the foot rests. Your workout on an elliptical is initiated by the resistance set on the machine.

Muscle Toning
Almost the entire bottom floor of the gym is devoted to muscle toning. There are individual mats you can use for various floor exercises like crunches and push-ups. There is a weight or resistance-based machine for every muscle group, and they usually have directions written out explaining how to use it if you aren’t sure what to do. Or ask anyone working in the gym – they should be a big help! On the second floor as well there are mats, dumbbells, medicine balls, and weight machines for the upper body.

Some say it is better to do your muscle toning workouts before cardio. You should be aware of your body and push yourself safely to progress, but still never push yourself into a dangerous situation. I like to alternate by doing one part of my muscle toning workout, one part of my cardio workout, second part of muscle toning, and last part of cardio. Every body is different. You should do what is right for yours and do some research; maybe ask your doctor, and try a few different methods in a good old trial and error fashion. And always stay hydrated.

Stretching and Warming Up – Don’t forget this!
It is imperative, paramount, necessary, and so important to stretch your muscles before you begin any workout. If your muscles are not ready for physical exertion, you are at a much higher risk of injury. At the gym it’s easy: Find a comfortable spot off to the side so there won’t be any crashes of bodies and warm up. Before you run, stretch out your calves by keeping your foot flat on the ground and leaning forward so that your leg and foot create something like a forty-five degree angle. Before you lift any weights, roll your shoulders to loosen the muscles and stretch your arms up. Also, bend forward and touch your toes while trying to keep your knees as straight as possible. These are a few stretches that will help your muscles into their workout. There are many more you can do as well. Be aware of your body and its weak points so you can figure out what to work at and be careful of.

Cooling down after your workout is very important too. After you’re done, try walking around the track a lap or two just to calm down. If you end your workout on an elliptical, there is often a five-minute cool down counted in. Cooling down will help you avoid soreness later on.

If a solo workout isn’t your style, try the many group exercise classes available downstairs in the studios. You can find one for every mood including the very popular Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Kick Boxing, Hip Hop and Spinning. There is even a huge rock climbing wall – that is one great workout! You might consider a buddy system for motivation. Team up with a friend or two and go to the gym together. You can work out and collectively devise your workouts, allowing for a more creative plan, or at least use the act of traveling to the gym as a motivation to get there. Sometimes getting to the front door is the hardest part, but the UCF gym is more than well-equipped for a multitude of workouts, and you know what? It’s a fun, great environment. Go check it out! For more information, check out http://rwc.sdes.ucf.edu/.

Samantha Henry is a Feature Writer for HCUCF and is a junior double majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing. As a music festival enthusiast, she loves to write about music and how it influences our generation.
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