7 ways to combat the graduate ‘freshman 15’

Here in the United States, incoming college students are warned of the “freshmen 15:” a term coined to describe the tendency of some students to put on weight during their first time away from home—likely due to temptation at the dining halls, late night studying and irregular hours, stress and a new schedule.  The veracity of this phenomenon has been called into question and doesn’t appear to be as widespread in graduate school. However, moving to a new city and starting a new routine (especially one that involves a lot of sitting down) can draw your focus away from your health.

To remind you that you do have healthy options in NYC, our former PA Lauren Podber, MIA ’15, has written two blog posts on the subject. Today, I’m sharing with you her favorite locations to exercise at in the city. On Wednesday, you’ll learn about healthy(ish) restaurant options. Or if you’re just looking for any place to eat, we have a few blog posts on that topic as well.

As a former dancer, I used to focus much more on my weight than I do now. While at Columbia (for the past five-and-a-half years), I’ve really switched my focus to my overall health and wellness. For me, balance is the most important thing. It’s easy to get caught up studying in the library, ordering takeout, and skipping the gym, but investing the time to take care of yourself and your health, is incredibly important. So, I am writing this blog post to give you some inspiration and help you get (even more!) excited about coming to Columbia. I’m also writing this to let you know that health and wellness are very achievable, especially here in New York City.

In no particular order, some places you might find me getting my heart rate up:

[Photo via vegancinephile.com] A Soul Cycle studio.

  1. Soul Cycle: Everyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with Soul Cycle. Their motto, “mind, body, cardio” rings true for me. There is no better stress reliever than going into a dark room to get an amazing workout (which happens to be kind of like a dance party on a bike). My favorite instructors are Sara and Michael, both of whom happen to teach at the Upper West Side locations on 92nd Street and 77th Street.
  2. Yoga to the People: I’m not going to lie, yoga is not my favorite. However, I always feel better when I do it. My friend (and fellow SIPA 5-year-program graduate), Richard, introduced me to this studio. To attend a class, there is a suggested donation of $10, but you can pay whatever amount you wish. Yoga to the People has several other locations throughout NYC, but the one at Broadway and 104th is just a few blocks away from Columbia University’s Morningside campus.
  3. Dodge Fitness Center: This is Columbia’s gym (one facility pictured at the top of this blog). Membership options vary and they tend to be reasonably priced. Dodge also offers group exercise classes each semester.  I haven’t taken any classes here, but I will say that my undergraduate advisor from the School of General Studies, teachers aerobics here; he is the most high-energy individual I’ve encountered in a long time, so I suspect he’s quite good.
[Photo via http://www.centralparknyc.org] Reservoir Running Track.
  1. The Reservoir at Central Park: The Reservoir track is a 1.58-mile loop offering some of the best skyline views in the Park. While some more advanced runners may favor a longer path, the reservoir is beautiful and you can always run around it multiple times to run your preferred distance.
  2. Barry’s Bootcamp: This bootcamp has literally trademarked the phrase “the best workout in the world.”  If you go early in the week, you’ll focus on a particular body part (e.g., a combination of abs, arms, chest, butt or legs) for half of the class, and spend the other half sprinting harder than you ever thought you could on a crazy incline on the treadmill. The second half of the week allows for a total-body workout, where you’ll be doing a variety of strength-training moves, and be suffering on the treadmill for the other half.  They have three New York City locations, and classes are offered all day every day. Me personally? I like Mike E’s class and favor the Chelsea location (it’s right off the 1 train. You have no excuse not to go!). Warning: after your first class, you may not be able to walk down the stairs for a few days.  But it’s an amazing workout.
  3. 305: This dance-cardio workout features a live DJ. It’s named after the Miami area code of its founder, Sadie Kurzman. It’s a bit of a schlep from Columbia to get to the studio (it’s actually right down the block from NYU), but it is worth the subway ride.
  4. Oh, and check out these Summer NYC workouts that are being offered for free. To stay up to date on similar events, also look at Well + Good (my favorite blog, not including the Admissions Blog of course!)

I hope these locations give you a little motivation to go outside and get moving. I look forward to sharing my list of favorite healthy restaurants on Friday.

—Lauren Podber, MIA ’15