Students use various machines to exercise in TRECS.

A life of physical and emotional self-isolation isn’t the typical descriptive characteristics of the Volunteer experience, though that is the situation we find ourselves in.

Our routines all seem to feature some outside interference nowadays. COVID-19 is still alive and kicking. Though we’re allowed to use the school gym, you may not wish to risk your health.

Worry not; there are alternatives. Home exercises aren’t as ineffective as you may think. However, student life can give them that extra level of difficulty — especially if you’re living in a dorm with roommates.

That needn’t halt your fitness progress completely. It is a challenge but still doable.

Talk to your roommate(s)

Communication is key when living with a plus one. After a long day of classes, work, obligations and other activities, it might not be enjoyable to come home to find someone in gym clothes sweating all over the place.

As such, be sure to talk with your roommates about it. Ask them if they’re okay with you exercising while you’re there. If they’re not, inquire about some of the times they won’t be in the dorm.

They might not care, but it’s still polite to ask.

Make use of your surroundings

I wrote a separate article about machine alternatives you could find around the house. The same principle applies to dorm rooms.

The average UT dorm room comes with a desk and bed, which are objects one could easily do rows with. Chairs help with pushups or stepping exercises. Your door could be a pull-up bar. If you have a raised bed, it could aid your handstand pushups.

You can get creative with workouts and find new and interesting exercise replacements. Just look around.

Invest in some basic equipment

Having had access to workout facilities at no extra cost, we might not be too prepared for fitness without all of the fancy machines and weights.

You don’t need a fully stocked home gym. A few tools are enough. Inexpensive pullup bars can cost up to $50, though one could easily find one for $18 to $20. This instantly takes care of the hardest home workout issue: targeting the back muscles.

Resistance bands also mitigate the back issue. They also open up a new way to reach overload, since elastic lifts activate muscles in a way separate from lifting heavy. Very light weights (five to 10 pounds) are relatively inexpensive and great for both corrective exercise and shoulder lifts.

You don’t have to be rich. You don’t even need any equipment at all. However, if it makes your journey easier, it’s worth it.

Invest in cleaning supplies

You’re going to get sweaty. That smell is going to get into everything if you don’t stop it. Trust me, you won’t want to live somewhere with that stench around every day.

Buy some air freshener and carpet cleaner. It’s worth it.

Reserve a space in your apartment/dorm/house

If you’ve got a bit more space, mark off a spot and reserve it for exercise. This helps with the mental struggle of working out where you relax. Once you enter that space in your workout clothes at your scheduled workout time, your mind knows that it’s time to focus.

Then, you can unwind and take a quick shower once you’re done. Suddenly, back in relaxation mode. While you’ll need to encourage yourself, the mental tricks can help.

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