Variety boosts fitness

The spring semester is heading into the thick of assignments and projects, meaning more stress and less free time.

It’s important, however, that students continue to incorporate exercise into their schedules: Fitness helps ease the daily stress of dealing with overwhelming academic work, and it also keeps the body properly rested. A frequent exercise regimen stimulates the mind and factors in college success.

Healthy living · Unique, group workout ideas, like swimming with friends, help make exercise more exciting. Between school, extracurriculars and other commitments, it can be difficult to find time to fit in an exercise routine, but with these tricks of the trade you’ll be sure to make time. - Mason Khoo | Daily Trojan

Considering that USC students are lucky enough to experience college life in a city bordered by the Pacific Ocean, beach fitness activities should top the list of workout options. Saturday afternoons can be rejuvenated with a trip to one of the many beaches near USC, where warm sand and a host of creative exercise options await.

Competition can be a great motivator for physical exercise. Weekend beach volleyball with friends brings the excitement to fitness after an entire week of monotonous classroom academics. For those looking for something more calming, yoga workouts performed on the beach are perfect for physical and spiritual enrichment and can make a normal routine feel special. The waves crashing soothingly in the background also help make a routine unique.

A trip to the beach can also be a great escape from all that convenient fast food: Try coordinating a beach picnic with homemade sandwiches and fresh salads made with seasonal produce. A made-from-scratch meal eaten on the shoreline will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt-free.

Not in the mood for fun in the sand? Dance parties are a unique form of working out too. Zumba videos, choreographed hip-hop routines or fitness videos can be challenging tasks for those who only dance to stay fit. Dance workout parties also provide a social setting where friends can come together before indulging themselves in studious tasks or taking part in weekend college night life.

Again, the promise of delicious snacks can make the workout especially enticing: Tasty smoothies — whipped up in minutes with some fresh or frozen fruit and juices — can be a refreshing pick-me-up or just a nice reward for a successful workout session.

A trip to a swimming pool for some unique, group-focused water aerobics or swimming laps is a great idea for keeping the body toned. Aqua aerobics aren’t just for old people — there are plenty of intriguing options, such as aquatic kickboxing and Pilates.

It’s especially effective if someone is knowledgeable about aerobic exercises and can lead them, but it’s always fun to try something totally new. Aquatic exercise benefits the body a great deal without the stress of many land-based exercises and can be a fun twist to the usual routines.

Though it might seem intimidating, small-group fitness training sessions are an amazing opportunity for friends to join together with a professional personal trainer.

These sessions give participating students the chance to get more personal attention, which can’t be found in a class with large groups of people and can maximize the benefits of a workout routine. This option is great for those who prefer being coached instead of passively watching fitness videos.

There are also options for students who find using USC’s fitness facility most convenient or for those who prefer larger workout settings. USC’s Lyon Center offers students the opportunity to take a variety of fitness classes for the entire semester, including yoga, SCycling, Pilates, muscle conditioning, “step & weights,” turbokick and so on. Best of all, students can choose to attend sessions when they please and during times that fit their weekly schedules. In addition, there are also many helpful wellness programs that provide knowledge on fitness and nutrition — a session can enlighten on the finer points of staying healthy on a college budget.

The school week tends to be hectic, so unwind with some unconventional, focused workouts. A more social experience brings motivation and inspiration to regular exercise, and can be a way for students to promote health and fitness to perhaps less-motivated peers.

Working out doesn’t have to be another lonely evening on the treadmill with the earbuds in. With a little creativity, students can reap the benefits of greater physical health without sacrificing entertainment.