Working up a sweat in school

By Linshan Tiong

PHOTO: LINSHAN TIONG

You don’t have to be a gym rat to get fit.

Having a large campus presents endless opportunities for students to creatively make use of school facilities for an endorphin rush.

For those in Hall of Residence 3, the sight of first-year student Kelvin Yau from Nanyang Business School completing his Tabata workouts along the corridor has become the norm.

A time-saving Tabata workout can be as short as four minutes long, and has been gaining traction among students on a time crunch.

Yau was drawn to Tabata as it maximises the use of both his time and effort.

Each set starts with 20 seconds of high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. He repeats this circuit eight times.

He would begin his workout with upper body exercises, such as push-ups, followed by flutter kicks and abdomen twists for core strengthening, before finishing off with squats and lunges.  

This arrangement saves him travelling time, especially when he is not able to make it to the gym.

Yau said: “Tabata is a great alternative to get my heart pumping hard. It becomes my wet weather plan when it starts to pour and I can’t head out for my run or to the gym.”

Other students find time for exercising on campus by making use of longer breaks in between classes.

As third-year School of Social Sciences student Toh Han Jing does not stay on campus, she exercises during her long breaks in school to make good use of her time.

When possible, the 21-year-old dancer takes dance electives so that she can make use of the studio to exercise before class.

“I make sure I go to class one hour earlier when the studio is completely empty, and I have the entire space to myself to do yoga or dance,” Toh said.

Toh also seeks out “small little spots” around school where she can dance.

On some days, she can be found dancing on the first level of the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), where a large glass panel acts as a mirror for her to correct her form.

This makeshift studio is popular among dancers when they lack access to proper dance studios on campus.

For Bryan Wu, 21, getting some exercise is an added perk of cycling to class.

The first-year student from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) cycles around school on a single-speed bike. This mode of transport gives his legs a vigorous workout, especially when he cycles up the small hills around school.

Wu said: “Going uphill is no fun for anyone, but at the same time that’s what I enjoy — putting myself through the paces of it and just feeling my legs burn.”

Cycling around school also gets him acquainted with his new environment.

“It’s such a big campus, and I feel like most people have left at least half of it unexplored, and this is a good way of getting to know the campus a bit better.”

Other students exercise at alternative areas in school as they feel it is more accessible than going to a gym.

Rugby player Aqilah Adriana, 21, enjoys doing her HIIT workouts near the field at the Sports and Recreation Centre on days when she does not have training.

The second-year School of Humanities student supplements these workouts with runs around the campus.

This is a way for her to avoid the crowded school gyms, especially during peak hours.

Doing the same is third-year School of Social Sciences student Linnet Xue, who breaks out her yoga mat to do core exercises in her room instead.

Her workouts consist of one-minute sets of leg raises, planks, and crunches.

“Sometimes, you want some privacy when you do bodyweight exercises,” said Xue.

“I feel less self-conscious and can focus better on what I’m doing, especially when I want to try new workout moves.”

Besides core exercises, Xue also clocks miles on the running path that winds through campus. She finds this a therapeutic way to recharge during the school week.

She added: “The campus is actually a really nice place to run, especially at night and in the early mornings.”

With endless opportunities to creatively utilise campus space for different fitness regimes, there is simply no excuse not to get your sweat on.