With summer fast approaching, Sean Finnan looks at student fitness and talks to Gavin O’Byrne from Crunch Fitness about achieving the perfect beach body
With less than two weeks of college left, the approaching summer is sure to break the cocoon lifestyle of student living. No longer will it be acceptable to live off frozen pizzas, nightly two-litre bottles of Centra Cola and counting the run for the last bus to town as your weekly exercise.
The overwhelming shame that will follow the honeymoon period of the opening weeks of the holidays will inevitably leave many with two choices: new clothes or new you? With the hopeful anticipation of a blissful summer, The University Observer spoke to a number of students to find out about their fitness regimes (or lack of) and opinions on student lifestyle in general.
Biomedical Science student, Rob Owen, explains that he likes to “do something once a week. I usually go for a run or do some weights, stuff like that.” While Arts student, Ronan Holcroft comments: “Back home I play a lot of football. I play with Tarmonfeckin; it’s my local club. I train twice a week and I do a bit on my own as well in the gym. I’m pretty serious about it.”
Holcroft’s dedication and enthusiasm stems from his footballing background. “I was playing with Louth under 21s there in January and February and we had a drinking ban for a little while,” he says. “If I had to stay off alcohol, I would.”
However, despite the fitness regime of the above, most of the students interviewed set little time aside for exercise in their routine making it easy to see why the general consensus of student slobbery is widely applied. But with summertime approaching, is there an additional pressure placed on people to strive for that ‘perfect body’ excessively promoted in certain aspects of the media? Second year Arts student, Julie Seagrave, believes there is.
“You notice at this time of the year that magazines start telling you how to lose your stomach and I guess that puts pressure on people to join gyms,” she explains. “Even if people say they’re not self conscious about it, they kind of are because there’s going to be pictures of you on Facebook, and you don’t want to look a mess.”
With that in mind, many people would make resolutions to exercise and eat healthily, but later fall back into their own habits as the days and weeks progress. One person who knows about this is gym instructor, Gavin O’Byrne, who works for Crunch Fitness in the UCD Sports Centre. He believes that the advent of sun means that more people would try and get fitter during this period.
“There’s definitely an exercise buzz that comes with the summertime. I wouldn’t say it necessarily gets busier, but there definitely seems to be certain groups that keep coming back,” says O’Byrne. “There’s something I’ve noticed about the changing of the seasons that makes people want to get more active, which is great to see.”
For those that wish to use the upcoming months as a time to improve our fitness levels, in a spot of self-promotion, O’Byrne references the memberships rates for the gym as an example, but refers to the benefits of having an instructor to guide you along the way.
“Obviously there’s cheaper ways of doing it. Some people prefer doing their own routines, but here you do get the added benefit of being in a gym and great arrangements of exercises to go through and professional help.”
O’Byrne mentions that, generally, the best way to lose weight is to do a lot of low intensity exercises rather than doing cardiovascular exercises for long amounts of time. He emphasises the importance of guidance to maintain motivation and set goals: “Sometimes people want to get fit the cheapest way possible and they haven’t got the greatest expertise in what they are doing. Here, you will get that professional help.”
A vital point O’Byrne makes is about the importance of keeping hydrated throughout the day, which is an area that people neglect when they begin an exercise routine.
“A lot of people who start an exercise routine tend to feel hungrier, but there’s nothing cheaper than water,” says O’Byrne. “[It’s] one of the most important things and people actually neglect it, which I noticed recently.
“If you tend to keep yourself hydrated, drinking three to four litres a day, you tend to feel less hungry automatically so that’s probably going to cut the cost in itself.”
So ditch the Centra Cola, wave goodbye to Goodfellas and just get exercising either through a gym, going for a run in your local park or just exercising in the comfort of your own home. The summer is long, so make the most of it and maybe you’ll return to university with superior fitness levels and physique.