How to make working out on campus work out

Illustration of forms of exercise
Annabelle Baker/Staff

College and university student life is all about balance. Working on homework for classes and studying for tests is obviously important, but having an active social life and going outside is just as important. In the same way, eating well in college and trying all kinds of food are some of the good things about getting to live away from home. If one does not work out, however, then there is an imbalance in the health of the student. As such, working out is an essential part of being a student.

Working out is a fickle activity at UC Berkeley. There are times when the main on-campus facility, the Recreational Sports Facility, or RSF, is as barren as the Golden Bear Cafe on a Sunday, and then there are times when it feels like an overbooked United Airlines flight. The marginal benefit of going to the RSF to see if it’s full is much less than the marginal cost of actually walking over. In short, students needs more places to work out on campus. Luckily, UC Berkeley has one of the coolest campuses in the nation, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to possible ways to work out here.

One of the coolest ways to work out on campus that I have heard of, but never tried myself, is running on campus. It sounds stupid, but it is actually a very cool way to exercise. Campus is full of wonderful things to see, such as the Eucalyptus Grove and the Campanile — and the ambiance around is also very nice. There is a ton of shade everywhere, and where there isn’t, the sun just barely kisses the skin. The wind blows with the right amount of intensity: enough to ruffle your hair, but not enough to blow debris into your eyes.

Another exercise that I personally find very rewarding is hiking up to the Big C. This hike has lots of inclines, and gripping shoes are recommended since it can be very easy to slip, slide or fall down wearing  footwear with poor traction. To up the stakes, you can always see how long it takes to get up to the Big C, and then compare times with friends. If you are a true daredevil and have fantastic health insurance, then you can attempt the hike at night. If the lack of light and direction doesn’t give you anxiety, then the feeling of some animal watching you definitely will. This hike may be tougher on some than others, but the reward vastly outweighs the challenge. The view from the Big C is rejuvenating, regardless of the time of day — and if you decide to hike up at night, then the view only gets better as the Bay Bridge and cars driving along it serve as a backdrop for the lit-up Campanile. 

If running in public isn’t your cup of tea, then there is always a more roundabout, yet just as effective method for getting your daily cardio in: ditching elevators. This exercise works better the higher up you live in a building. By ditching elevators, the stairs become the only way to go up, and a decent amount of both cardio and leg resistance training can be done in one fell swoop. Also, less people get on the elevator, so it’s even better for the rest of us who take the elevator up and down.

Exercise can even be incorporated into other mundane daily activities such as using the bathroom. You can try using certain bathrooms around campus in a more hygienic way by making sure no part of your body touches the toilet. Dwinelle Hall is a great example of where to practice this: by squatting over the toilet bowl and ensuring your thighs do not touch any part of the toilet, a decent leg and back workout can be incorporated into your day. 

Finally, the most intensive of all these workouts. A workout that combines the rigor of running up stairs, the leg and back strength acquired from continuous squatting in Dwinelle Hall, the stamina of running through campus and the adrenaline of hiking up to the Big C at night. The UC Berkeley student’s equivalent of the Ironman race. The holy grail of campus exercise: chasing squirrels. Squirrels are some of the feistiest animals I have ever laid my eyes upon. They sprint all over the place, grab their nuts and run off to repeat the process. Chasing one requires the godliest of reaction times, insane turning speeds and a balls-to-the-wall type of acceleration. Few have ever caught one due to the sheer insanity and chaos the squirrel causes midchase. One second, it will be on the grass — the next, it might be running up a tree, about to jump off and perform some crazy midair stunt as if it got a job as a trapeze artist. Catching one is the ultimate good luck charm. Even Oski trembles in the presence of those who have successfully done so. If anyone who reads this guide ends up catching a squirrel, I will demand that 50% of the credit be given to me.

This is a satirical article written purely for entertainment purposes.

Contact Hamzah Alam at [email protected].