Happiest and Healthiest: Taking the “work” out of your workout


Katherine Carbonell

Maybe you can’t bear the thought of inventing another workout for yourself. Maybe it’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and the idea of getting your heartrate up is unbearable. Or, maybe you think you’re just really not an “exercise” person. I believe that everyone, even if they haven’t found it yet, has a way of working out that they could truly love. Sometimes, however, we have to reframe the way we think about “working out” in order for that to be true — even for those of us who love more “traditional” workouts (the ones with weights and running).

Here, I have compiled a list of activities and “ways of moving” on campus and in the Nashville area for all of those times that the thought of doing another sit-up makes you want to cringe. Think of the following as ways to work out, without feeling like it.

Zumba® classes:

Zumba’s website might say it best: “We take the ‘work’ out of workout by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party.” That pretty much does it. Every instructor’s personal style is a little different, but Zumba classes at the Rec are always reliable for a fun cardio/leg blast set to Latin/pop music. The dances are repetitive and fairly simple, but it might take a couple of classes for a true dance beginner to get the most out of the classes. Give it some time, and I promise you’ll be hooked.

POUND® classes:

POUND is truly the first workout of its kind. Inspired by the “infectious, energizing, and sweat-dripping fun of playing the drums,” POUND classes allow each participant to unleash his/her inner rockstar with movements involving two neon green drumsticks. Throughout class, you’ll lunge, squat, and crunch while hitting the ground to create your own rhythms. Although it’s definitely not for everyone, I highly recommend trying at least one class — you’ll be surprised how much drumming will distract you from how hard you’re working!

All things dance:

Vandy’s campus is absolutely full of opportunities to dance. From established student orgs (e.g., Momentum, Vitality, VU Pointe, Vibe, BhangraDores) to all of the cultural showcases, there are truly opportunities for everyone. Additionally, the Vanderbilt Dance Program provides dance classes at multiple skill levels in ballet, contemporary modern, hip-hop, pointe, tai chi, and tap. Students can purchase single classes or class passes, or register for a full class series. As an added bonus, expressing yourself through dance is incredibly beneficial to your mental health, as well — I have no idea how I would’ve gotten through the past three years without my Momentum family.


I’ll let you in on a little no-so-secret: hiking is basically walking. Of course, you can seek out hikes that are a lot more challenging: just take a peek into elevation gain, overall mileage, altitude throughout, etc. In fact, for a couple of hikes that I experienced in Guatemala, hiking was basically sliding: sitting down and letting gravity do the work was arguably more sensible than remaining upright. That said, there are some beautiful trails just a quick drive away from campus that are perfect for a day or half-day trip. My personal favorites are Percy Warner and Radnor.

Ice Skating:

I have a theory that ice skating makes for the perfect first date: either your date is wowed with your impeccable skating skills, or you’re so terrible that it’s kind of endearing. Win-win.The Centennial Sportsplex is walkable from campus and offers a discounted student rate of $6 with an additional $2 skate rental. Public skating is typically available throughout the day on Wednesdays and throughout the days and evenings on Fridays and Saturdays.


What better way to conquer your fear of heights than deliberately exposing yourself to it? In addition to the rockwall we all know and love in the Rec, Climb Nashville has quite a following amongst students and the community. The facility offers yoga, fitness classes, and an indoor rock climbing facility with plenty of assistance (including auto belays that clip into your harness and lower you to the ground) and intro courses for beginners. Seema Baddam, a senior and member at Climb Nashville, says she likes climbing because “it’s a challenging and fun mix of technique and strength. Every problem requires something different, and the feeling of getting better is really addicting.”