After a long day of classes and a less-than-satisfying cafeteria dinner, I bet that couch looks pretty comfortable. Look, the popcorn bag is ready to go right into the microwave. And how convenient, your can of cola is chilling in the refrigerator just inches away. Go ahead: wedge yourself in between the sofa cushions and pull an afghan up to your chin. Look out your dorm window at the whirling snow and snicker at all of those suckers who signed up for night classes. There is only one slight problem with this dream: the television is not on! Thank goodness the remote control is still resting on the arm of the couch, right where you left it the night before.
Snap out of it. With bathing suit season a mere three months away, and spring break even sooner, it is time to put down the potato chips and wipe off those greasy fingers. With long hours, decent pass prices, and on-campus locations, the IM buildings, including the Jenison Fieldhouse, are available not only to Spartan varsity athletes, but to those who just want to keep fitness regimens through the cold winter months without getting their running shoes stuck in the snow.
All of the IM buildings on campus experience a frenzied increase in membership during the winter months. The exercise and fitness room at IM East is always filled with members, according to associate director Dennis Mayer.
“All of our cardio machines are packed constantly,” Mayer said. “The weight machines are also used extensively. People want to get ready to look good for the beaches at spring break and [others] feel they ate too much and gained weight over the holidays.”
Besides the obvious physical benefits, working out during the winter helps emotionally as well. The cold weather outside makes it all too easy to put off physical activity, but varying workout routines can put an extra spring in one’s tennis-shoed step, according to John D. Moore, a professor of health sciences at the American Military University.
“It’s easy to forget that winter doesn’t last forever and you really will feel the warmth of the sun one day,” Moore said. “One of the roadblocks to staying motivated is sticking with the same, stale program. Try doing [cardio exercises, such as running or biking] before your workout during the winter. It helps warm up cold muscles and prevents injuries.”
Moore also suggested getting ready for the gym the night before, so that a workout will not be avoided. “Throw all of your gym clothes in a duffle bag and place it by the front door,” Moore said. “When you walk in the door, you will see…a self-made reminder that gets you ready for that…date with the gym.”
Emotional problems deeper than motivational issues can breed during the winter months due to a lack of activity. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depression disorder that follows the seasons and occurs mostly during the winter. The risk for SAD is higher after the age of 20, and about 70% of the United States population will experience some degree of SAD, according to the website of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Because SAD is normally due to a lack of sunlight, exposure to more light can help this condition. What better way to get out in the crisp winter sun than to go on a quick walk or jog over to an IM building or arena for a workout?
A lack of sunlight is perfectly fine with many club teams searching for practice space from January to March. With limited indoor space, varsity Spartans naturally receive prime indoor athletic time. To the knowledge of a few, club sports do continue during the winter, in lieu of practices during extreme hours. The men’s ultimate frisbee team is restricted to late-night practice times, including a two-hour session until midnight once a week in the Duffy Daugherty indoor football building. Despite this, getting motivated is not an issue; a team goal is to make it to the national tournament this May, according to English senior Peter Gallina.
“Everyone on the team is here with the knowledge of our enormous expectations,” Gallina said. “One of our team’s advantages over other teams is our athleticism, so we try to make sure it’s always as fine tuned as possible. Playing ultimate late at night is a no brainer.”
For those without interest in club sports, each IM facility has features unique to its building. For example, indoor pools are available strictly at IM West and IM Circle. The indoor track at the Jenison Fieldhouse is open to the student body, free of charge, from 6:30-10:00 p.m. beginning on Jan. 24. Daily and semester rates are discounted for students, but are slightly more pricy at IM East. Semester passes are the best bargain, at $23 for IM West and IM Circle and $60 for IM East. These passes are valid until April 29.
The oldest New Year’s resolution in the book is the vow to “exercise more.” Try something new in 2005 and keep this resolution. Whether swimming, running, walking, or pumping iron does the trick, get to the gym and burn some calories for both body and brain. Go ahead, get off that couch, touch those toes and sidle right on up to those burly football players and chiseled swimmers in the weight room.

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