Indoor and Outdoor Activities on Campus

December 7, 2009

I want to talk about two other activities students, faculty and all members of UT Rec Sports can and should particiapte in to stay fit and have fun. 

Rec Sports facilities (i.e. Gregory, Rec Center and Bellmont) have a buffet of racquetball, squash, wallyball and handball courts for recreational and competitive play everyday of the week. 

The Rec Center has eight racquetball courts and two squash courts for all types of competition. Patrons can also reserve courts by going to the facilities or by going online. 

“I play a lot and I’ve gotten some of my friends up here too,” junior Ryan Hejl said. “I usually come in the afternoon when its less crowded and less likely to have a tournament or something.” 

One of Hejl’s friends is roommate Ari Puntes who said that Hejl wears him out when they play together. 

“It’s a really unexpected workout,” Puentes said. 

The Rec Center and Gregory both have racquetball, walleyball and squash equiptment to check out with a student ID card so don’t worry if you feel unsuited to play. It really is a blast and a great way to get some exercise. 

Another service available is outdoor walking and jogging tracks around campus. Of course, the weather has not been ideal for outdoor activity the last few weeks,m but there are still some nice mornings and afternoons for a peaceful walk, jog or run around the 40 Acres. 

Heading outdoors is a great change of pace from normal treadmills and elliptical machines so head outside. There are six basic trails:  Inner campus Drive Loop, The Stadium Loop, Guadeloupe Run, West Campus Run, Hancock Golf Course Run and The Two+ Mile Loop. All routes begin at Gregory Gym, 21st and Speedway. 

And while the outdoors can be relaxing and a shakeup in the normal routine, please remember to be safe. 

  • Always face incoming traffic and stay as far away from the road as possible
  • If you have to listen to music, keep it at a low volume to listen for traffic, pedestrians, etc. (maybe try one in one out)
  • Stay in well-lit areas and maintain eye contact with other motor vehicle operators
  • Use buddy system (don’t want anybody getting lost out there)
  • Wear light colors or reflective clothing after dark 

“I run outdoors whenever I get a chance,” senior Amy Bruner said. “You get to actually see something instead of the back of someone else on a treadmill or the news.” 

Remember, there are dozens of ways to workout on campus. Just find what fits you and have fun!


Rec Sports During the Break

December 7, 2009

To keep you informed and ready for anything and everything Rec Sports, you have to know about reduced hours and class schedules. 

As I sit in Bellmont 348 at the moment watching one person stretch on the mat, it plagues me to think about why this facility is open instead of the Rec Center at 6 am, but nonetheless, it has given me a chance to blog. The reduced hours started this Saturday and run through January 17 (the day before spring classes start). 

Bellmont, Anna Hiss and the Rec Center do have significant closings because of holidays, but have no fear. Gregory Gym is only closed December 24, 25, 31 and January 1 so you will still have a gym if you are sticking around Austin for the holidays. 

You can check out the hours for finals, December, Christmas, New Years and January here.

Also remember that cycling and TexCercise classes are different too. Check out the hours here and here.  

And for all of those seniors out there that just graduated let me say congratulations. Now, make sure to take advantage of these free facilities while you still have the chance. After Tuesday December 15, all graduates are no longer allowed into Rec Sports facilities without purchasing a membership or a guess pass — and those are $10 a pop.

Consider this your friendly reminder before I have to throw you out of a facility for a faulty membership. Well, I won’t throw you out but I really can’t let you in, so make sure you use this time wisely.

The Iron Gym

November 30, 2009

During a late night Walgreens run for jelly beans and energy drinks with my roommate, we stopped at the “Seen on TV” section to browse through the plethora of intriguing items that are supposedly available only through TV ads. Next to the Slap Chop and Sham Wow was the Iron Gym, the all-in-one workout machine that promised “BIG” results.

Naturally, the jacked model on the box gave off a glimmer of hope for a simple workout I could do from the comfort of my living room where I could in theory do pull ups, push ups, dips and sit ups with one simple machine. Twenty dollars later, it was out of the box and quickly assembled to begin the vigorous workout and quest for muscular definition. 

I’m gonna need a few more days.


The Pull-up 

Hands down the most valuable part of the Iron Gym. Realistically, I could easily do the other exercises at my house with ease but a quality pull-up bar is not something you can find lying around. You can do wide grip, reverse grip and close grip pull-ups to get that sexy V-shaped torso for beach season. A good series is three sets of as many reps as you can complete. For me it was 10, then seven then five. Rest about a minute between sets and always remember to drink water or some sort of recovery drink. 






The Push-Up

Of course you can easily complete pushups without the Iron Gym but it does provide some extra height to go deeper for more range of motion and it gets your hands off the ground to lessen the strain on your wrists. Do three sets of 15 with a minute rest in-between.







The Dip

Quite possibly the worst part of the Iron Gym. You don’t get any range of motion and it is much better to use two chairs or a chair and the couch to get quality dips. I did three sets of 15 but honestly it didn’t really do much. 





The Sit-Up

Another pointless feature of the Iron Gym for a couple of reasons. First you have to brace it on the door frame and it really doesn’t hold very well and second, you can’t put a lot of pressure on it with your feet. I suggest doing away with it for the abdominal workout and stick to basic crunches. 




In all, the only nice feature of the Iron Gym is the pull-up bar and maybe the push-up feature because it takes strain off your wrists. I’m going to need a few more weeks to diagnose the full worth of it but I do like the pull-up bar. 


Gregory versus The Rec Center

November 24, 2009

So the great question that runs rampant throughout the UT campus is which facility should I use to workout? People have their preferences for many different reasons and whether it is location, crowdedness or just ignorance to other gyms, the Rec Sports facilities host over 90 percent of the student population — and that’s a good thing.

I asked a few people whether they preferred Gregory or the Rec Center to workout or do various activities and I also asked if they had heard about any other facilities on campus like Bellmont, Anna Hiss, etc. 

The results were somehwhat split, but a recurring theme was that many peopel preferred the Rec Center to workout because it had less people and preferred Gregory for other activities like basketball, swimming and requetball. 

Of course the Rec Center does not have any swimming facilities, but many preferred Gregory for basketball because of the greater variety of gyms and competition. And of course, as I suspected, most have never been or heard of the other smaller facilities. 

Above all, it doesn’t really matter where you workout, just get out there and get that heart racing before the holiday eating season. 

I blog about Rec Sports at UT. Let me know your favorite facility and why in the comments. 

Cycling for Your Life

November 23, 2009

Spending as much time as I do at the Rec Center, I have observed all activities and I have to say the most challenging and sweatiest workout is group cycling.

Its also the most popular. 

The Rec Center has the only cycling studio on campus and any student or member can participate if they purchase the group cycling pass.


The pass is only $40 a semester and if you purchase the combo pass that includes TexerCise classes it is only $100. 

“Cycling is just part of my weekly workouts,” JV Vong said. “Its worth the money.” 

There are 13 different cycling classes you can choose:

Group Cycling:  For all participant levels. (beginner – advanced)

Group Cycling Express:
A 45-mintute group cycling class for those on the go.

Power 40:  designed for those who are short on time but high on motivation over their lunch hour (beginner – advanced)

Endurance Ride: A 60-minute class that involves cardio challenges, hills, varying speeds and resistance, and endurance segments. (beginner – advanced)

Endurance Ride PLUS: A 90-minute class for the weekend warriors out there. 75 minutes on the bike plus a 10-minute stretching segment. This class ends with 5 minutes of pure relaxation.

Cycle 40/20/20: Great for those who are looking for a complete workout! Cycle for 40-minutes, do 20-minutes of upper body exercises, and finish with 20-minutes of core and flexibility work. (beginner – advanced)

Cycle + Abs: A 40-45-minute cycling workout followed by 15-minutes of great abdominal exercises. (beginner – advanced)

Cycle + Pilates: A great cycling workout on the bike – followed by a Pilates segment to lengthen and strengthen your entire body. No previous Pilates experience necessary. (beginner – advanced)

Cycle + Sculpt: Combine the best of both worlds and reap the benefits of a cycling class infused with sculpting and group strength exercises.

Cycle + Upper Cuts: Complete a great cycling workout and finish up with some amazing upper body exercises to tone, strengthen, and define.

Cycle + Yoga: Get a great cardio workout and follow it up with a yoga segment. The perfect combination for a complete mind/body workout! (beginner – advanced)

Hill Ride: This class will focus on hill specific movements and will challenge and improve your lower body strength and cardiovascular system. Shake up your cycling routine and try this class! (beginner – advanced)

Speed & Interval Ride: Consists of fast flats, standing and seated runs, and intervals galore! (intermediate – advanced) 

And be prepared to sweat because the classes are challenging and although it is a group class, you can set your own personal speed and rate that fits how you feel. Just remember to bring a towel and water bottle to every class and arrive at least five minutes early because they fill up fast. 

“It is the most intense workouts I have,” senior Myrna Rombado said. “Looking in the room it seems easy and basic but its not like an ordinary bike ride. The instructors are intense too.”

Temptations to avoid in crunch time

November 17, 2009

With the semester winding down rather rapidly, late nights of studying and writing are inevitable. And just as the clock turns into the wee hours of the morning, many of us are in need of a caffeine and/or sugar boost to get us through those last ten pages of reading or 200 more words in a paper.

The holiday season is already a dangerous time of year for people who are trying to stay healthy or who are in the midst of a diet and the late nights and awkward time gaps to grab food or an energy boost can leave some of us with a little extra weight to work off during the new year. 

So how can you avoid this? Along with daily excercise I have found my top 5 places to avoid during the so called “crunch time” of school that can add a lot of problems when you try on your Christmas sweaters or dresses you haven’t worn since last year. 

Disclaimer:  These are by no means a scientific list of the most unhealthy food/drink spots around Austin. Just the top five that came to my mind. 

Here we go.

1.  Tiff’s Treat’s Brownies

They are delicious, big, chocolaty and a rush of sugar that is hard to turn down the second you catch a whiff from one, but do the best you can. They are extremely rich and like most sweets, it is very hard to just have one bite. If you must wander in to their store, try to only order one or two cookies max. Anything is better than that giant brownie. 

2. Mrs. Johnson’s Donuts

I know Grant and the Night Owl bloggers did a great post about this Austin treasure but I’m giving them another shout out. Don’t get me wrong, I love their donuts. They are probably the greatest donuts I’ve ever eaten and that is the problem. Especially if you are like me and live within walking distance of their glorious stand. Its the perfect recipe for a late night craving and diet destroyer.

3. Five Guys Burgers 

With crazy schedules and time restrictions, grabbing a burger on the way to study is usually a go to food to provide energy while also ending the growling in your stomach. I’m a big fan of their burgers but they are costly on the healthy end. A regular cheeseburger and fries from their is 840 calories so do your best to make a sandwich.

4. Starbucks

I am such a hypocrite as I write this with a grande white chocolate mocha beside me. Starbucjs is great and a stable around the world but their drinks can add up on the calories side. A grande frapuccino is 240 calories. If you need some caffeine, go for tea or even regular black coffee for an improvement. 


5. Chipotle

Everyone’s favorite and convenient burrito shop. And while it is a filling meal, a chicken burrito is 1065 calories. That is more than half the recommended 2,000 calorie diet. 

Like anything, all five of these are fine in moderation, but if you find yourself indulging a little too much during this stressful period just look for a healthier alternative.

Inevitable Intramurals

November 16, 2009

With over 90 percent of the student body at UT participating in the Division of Recreational Sports, most have played or have known a friend that has played on an intramural sport team. Whether it is flag football, soccer, basketball or softball, they are all great ways to stay active, fit and meet some new friends along the way. 


The program at UT started in 1916 and is one of the oldest in the nation. And forget about the IM fields, Gregory or Clark field existing. The original sports of baseball, basketball, track, handball and tennis took place in the basement of the main building and were of course strictly male. 

Of course women are now welcome to play all sports thanks to our good friend Anna Hiss , who we learned about earlier, with more than 100 team and individual events every year. 

“I started playing intramurals as a freshman and it really is resposible for some of my best memories as a student,” senior Turner Thornton said.” “I made great friends and got to keep playing sports past high school even though I’m not a student athlete.” 


The Mecca and prize for all athletes participating in is of course an intramural championship and the iconic T-shirt that is handed out to the winners of every league. 

“We won co-ed basketball my sophomore year and it was so much fun,” senior Megan Clark said. “I still wear the shirt every-time its clean.” 

Intramural sports are also an opportunity for freshman to get involved and create memories in their first year, even if they don’t really know everyone on the team. 


“I’m 6-foot-8 so I’ve gotten recruited by a bunch of basketball teams already,” freshman Roy Zwenermann said. “I played football earlier in the year because I knew one person on the team and they needed an extra guy, but it was great.” 

The flag football championships are finishing up right now with basketball right around the corner in the spring semester. So grab a group of friends and sign up for a team. Even if you don’t win, its a great experience at a university like UT.