Students think of campus life as the perfect time to shape their mental education, but many neglect their physical education by not making the most of the campus fitness and recreation centres.
Sandra Ondracka, manager of campus recreation at the University of Windsor, says that leads to the dreaded “Frosh 15” as students mull the meaning of life while munching on chips and boxed mac and cheese.
“Our mandate is to give them the opportunity to develop some lifelong health and wellness skills that are going to contribute to maintaining their health beyond the university years,” she says. “A lot of them come in from high school without those habits established.”
Windsor has all of the facilities you’d expect — pools, courts, tracks weights and cardio equipment — but also offers less sporty pursuits such as martial arts, kayaking, yoga, Pilates, tai-chi, ballroom dancing, belly dancing, hip hop and zoomba.
“Most of our student participation is within the fitness programs — cycle fitness, spinning classes, kick boxing and bootcamp,” she says. “Do something that you like, that’s fun, that’s going to get you out of your room and away from your computer.”
There are also lots of casual competitions in flag football or inner-tube water polo. “You don’t have to be an athlete,” she notes.
Tanya Angus, director of recreation programs at the University of Manitoba, says some students use their university years to play top-level sports for teams like the Bisons, but the dirt-cheap membership to the sports centre opens lots of doors.
“We have a strong intramural program,” she said. Teams compete in soccer, basketball, Ultimate Frisbee and hockey, meaning you don’t have to be a hard-core jock to play team sports.
If students want a bit more of a challenge, league play is still recreational, but at a higher level.
Finally, students can use their membership to just turn up for pick-up games. “We definitely have opportunities for just recreation physical activities,” Angus says.
Students can usually visit campus fitness centres to get a tour or go for a virtual exploration via websites like Bisonactiveliving.ca. Beyond traditional sports, Manitoba, like many universities, also offers yoga, Pilates, aquatics, first aid and CPR.
If you don’t find what you want, the rec centres may be able to help you set up a rock-climbing or wrestling club with like-minded people.