EAST LANSING, Mich. — In college, women feel the pressure to be perfect. Instagram is swamped with fitness girls with the perfect bodies and the idea of achieving that in college seems impossible. The gym can be intimidating for a female especially for someone who is just beginning to delve into fitness.
Sitting at every machine for a good five minutes to read the description on how to properly use a machine can be nerve wracking and no one wants to be the person walking around the entire gym unsure of how or where to start. The process at the beginning may be scary but there are girls in college that have achieved a balance, and there are workouts and healthy habits that helped them get there.
Q & A with college women who have figured out fitness
Sarah Goodwin, Katie Borgen and Ana Pike all attend Michigan State University. Sarah, 18 and freshman in Lyman Briggs has her own website where she provides online coaching and guides for people seeking fitness help. Katie, 21, is a sophomore majoring in nutritional science and shares her tips and tricks on fitness with her 11,600 followers on Instagram. Ana, 19, and sophomore studying nursing is a National Physique Committee (NPC) bikini competitor, an ambassador for Buns & Barbells and offers customized meal plans for people seeking help in their journey.
Q: How long have you been working out?
Sarah: 2 years
Katie: 7 months
Ana: Almost 2 years
Q: What is the best way to start out for someone who hasn’t worked out much?
Sarah: “I would say the best way to start out is bringing a friend and exploring different movements/exercises to see what you like.”
Katie: “My advice for a beginner who’s interested in working out for the first time is to reach out to friends or someone who has gym experience to show you the ropes. Having someone there to teach and motivate you will make you much more excited and comfortable in the gym. Also, having a healthy relationship with food is extremely important.”
Ana: “Google was my best friend when I first started working out. More specifically, Youtube and Instagram. I never had a personal trainer so everything that I learned was through the Internet. I follow a lot of fitness Youtubers and fitness Instagrammers. Even to this day, I still look up new workouts on Youtube when I want to switch up my routine. Also, meeting people that like to workout can be beneficial as well. When you have a friend with you in the gym it’s a lot less intimidating to try new machines and exercises.”
Q: Working out while also being so busy with school is a common problem for girls in college, what advice would you give to maintain a workout regimen while in school?
Sarah: “You have to make time for it when you can but also take time off from working out when you have exams.”
Katie: “My advice on maintaining a workout regimen while in school is to workout as early in the day as you can! Getting in a workout before naps and Netflix will allow you to be more successful. Plus, morning workouts tend to make people more productive throughout the day. Also, take advantage of the stairs in your dorms or around campus so you can squeeze in a short, high-intensity workout anywhere. Think of your “workout time” like a class minus the stress. Make it a priority, but also have fun with it.”
Ana: “I consider working out to be one of my top three priorities along with school work and sleep because I know that exercise is benefiting my health. I always plan out my day the night before so I know exactly when I can go to the gym that day. I always take my rest days on days where I have a busy class schedule and I really use the weekends to my advantage. I always try to workout on Saturday and Sunday. Plus the gym is always super empty on the weekends which is always a plus.”
Q: What are some of your favorite easy workouts to perform when you’re in a crunch for time or can be performed at home?
Sarah: “Dumbbell or barbell squats. These are good if you are on a tight schedule since it hits multiple muscles in one movement.”
Katie: “Some of my favorite workouts to do when I’m short on time include all bodyweight exercises. You can also perform bodyweight exercises anywhere because you don’t need equipment. Some bodyweight exercises I do include planks, walking lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, donkey kicks, and fire-hydrants. The one piece of equipment I suggest you buy is resistance bands. Resistance bands are extremely versatile as you can use them on almost any part of your body.”
Ana: “If I am in a crunch for time, I usually like to do cardio. Treadmill sprints, treadmill incline walking and the elliptical on high resistance are my favorite forms of cardio. Even 15 minutes of this has me sweating. I found that the most easy and effective exercises that you can perform at home are resistance band exercises. I use these to do jump squats, kickbacks, side lunges, etc.”
Q: What are some of your favorite workouts that you find yourself doing the most frequently?
Sarah: “Hip thrusts which are great for your glutes. I also really enjoy cable pull throughs which target your hamstring-glute tie in.”
Katie: “My favorite workouts that I do most frequently revolve around my legs and glutes. I think almost all girls interested in working out have some interest in growing their lower bodies. My favorite glute exercises include barbell hip thrusts, cable pull-throughs, single elevated leg glute bridges, bulgarian split squats, donkey kicks with ankle weights, fire hydrants with ankle weights and so much more.”
Ana: “Sadly, you cannot spot reduce fat, but you can build muscle in certain areas to give you that more defined, toned look. I noticed that heavy compound exercises have given me the most results since they target many areas at once. These include squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, bench, etc. If you are new to the gym these exercises can be a bit intimidating, so you can modify them with dumbbells. Like I said before, resistance band training has helped me a lot to target my glutes. I always do resistance band training before and after I lift to activate my glute and hamstring muscles.”
Q: What would you say is the best general advice for someone who is trying to get fit?
Sarah: I know a lot of girls have different ideas of their dream physique so do exercises that work towards your goal. If your goal is to have the best shoulders then hit shoulders more than one time a week. If your goal is to get the best booty then do more glute exercises!
Katie: “A rule of thumb for someone trying to get fit is to focus on your own progress, not perfection! The media is always bombarding us with images of the perfect body. Images of the perfect body can be motivational, but it shouldn’t be the only reason you are working out. You should focus on becoming a better version of yourself every day and having a healthy relationship with food.”
Ana: “Diet plays a huge roll in getting fit. Just being cautious of what you are eating can really make a huge difference. Drinking lots of water and eating real, whole foods is just as important as exercise. Start by making small changes like cutting out soda for water, or adding in 20 minutes of cardio to your daily routine. Find a form of exercise that you like and look forward to doing. Even if it is small, being consistent is they key to results.”
Q: Were there hardships you have faced in your fitness journey and advice that you can give from your experience?
Sarah: “Starting out I didn’t know what I was doing but bringing in a friend to do things with me helped a lot. Eventually we moved away from the cardio and more towards the weights.
DON’T spend hours on any cardio machine. So many girls think in order to get the best bod they need to spend a lot of time doing cardio which is not true.”
Katie: “A hardship I’ve faced in my fitness journey is that I’ve wanted to give up many times in the beginning because I felt intimidated and discouraged by my lack of progress. It’s important to remember that results do not happen overnight. Staying consistent overtime is the only way you will see results. Having a good support system through your friends and family will help you as well. Sometimes I dreaded going to the gym when I first started out, but having my workout partner who made me come workout every night with her is the reason I am where I am today. Now I absolutely love working out, and it is embedded in my life. Not only have I become a lot stronger, my mentality has changed as well. I’ve gained so much more confidence in myself and you can too!”
Ana: “I always had an issue with feeling intimidated at the gym. I always thought people were staring at me when in reality, everyone is doing their own thing. It really helped me to workout with a friend or write out my workout in the notes section of my phone so I knew exactly what I was doing when I got to the gym. It important to enjoy what you’re doing, listen to your body, and love yourself and the process. I never use a scale to measure progress because it can cause an unhealthy relationship with fitness. I just go based on how I feel inside and I think that is what made me fall in love with fitness.”