Workout Wednesday: 5 Things to Bring to the Gym

What should you bring to the gym other than your sneakers and some clothes that you can break a sweat in?  To help make every workout successful and enjoyable, here are five items to bring along with you.

  1. Headphones – Nobody wants to hear Kanye West blasting through your headphones while you’re on the rowing machine.  But listening to music while your exercise is important – just do it at a volume that won’t make you half-deaf!  It’ll help get you through a tough workout and keep you from getting bored.  One of my favorite ways to workout is to push your hardest during each chorus and recover during the rest of the song.  By the time your favorite playlist is over, an hour will have already passed and it’ll be time to hit the shower.
  2. Water Bottle – Drinking water while you exercise is essential.  Of course, you need to hydrate before working out, but continue to do so while you’re sweating buckets.  This will keep your energy high and body fueled.  If you’re working out for more than an hour, consider filling your water bottle with a sports drink!
  3. Towel – This one is easy.  You don’t even have to remember to throw one into your bag.  You can check out a towel at the gym!  When you hand over your One Card to be swiped into the gym, ask for a towel.  Then simply return it when you leave – and be sure to have an employee swipe your card again or you might get charged!
  4. Smart Phone – Ignore the texts and Facebook notifications.  Click here to check out some the latest and greatest apps for your workout.  Your phone can be a great tool to keep you focused on your goals and to help you see results quicker!
  5. Snack – If you’re hitting up the gym between classes or have a meeting to go to after your sweat session, you may not have time to stop by your dorm and grab a bite to eat.  Post-workout nutrition is incredibly important!  Getting a combination of carbohydrates and protein (ideally a 3:1 ratio) will help your muscles recover and rebuild.  Pack a protein bar, a small turkey sandwich or some trail mix.  After you finish on the treadmill and head out the door to whatever your next appointment is, eat a little something.

If you’ve got all these items packed, you will be rockin’ your next workout at the gym.

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation. Each Wednesday we swap blog posts with the Tar Heel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on

Workout Wednesday: 7 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick at the Gym

This weekend, I laid in bed as much as possible while I dealt with a lovely bout of the flu. While I’m pretty sure I picked up the virus from my sister, I naturally started thinking about all of the public places that we share as students at a large university.

One of the first things places that came to mind was the gym. It’s one of the places where everyone wears less clothing than usual, has more body contact with shared equipment than usual, and sometimes people have more body contact with each other than usual, depending on the sport.

Because the flu and all sorts of other cold viruses are running rampant this season, I looked up several suggestions about how to avoid getting sick at the gym!

  1. 51283190_d2d115fef4_m
    “Sink” by Kristen Andrus, Flickr Creative Commons

    Wash your hands! This one might seem obvious, but if you’re going to the gym between classes, it might slip your mind to wash your hands between working out and eating lunch! Make an effort to go wash your hands with warm water and soap as soon as you finish your workout or leave the gym.

  2. Wipe down equipment before AND after use. Think about how many hands and bodies have touched the elliptical dashboard, the handles of your stationary bike, or your yoga mat that very day! Use the disinfecting wipes provided in the SRC and Ram’s Head Rec to wipe down your equipment before you use it to avoid contact with other people’s germs! Do the person after you a favor by wiping your equipment down again after you finish using it to avoid the spread of any germs you may be carrying.
  3. Avoid contact sports during the peak of flu season or if you know several of your teammates have been sick. It can be hard to stay away from your favorite sport, but if your teammates and friends are dropping like flies to various sicknesses, it might be best to take a break until everyone starts feeling better. Contact sports cause players to share a lot of sweat and germs in general, so consider that possibility before you choose to participate.
  4. Take a shower as soon as you finish working out. Many workouts involve laying on mats or the floor, so washing your hands probably isn’t enough to de-germ completely. Showering washes away all of that cringe-worthy shared sweat and reduces your risk of infection.
  5. Cover any open wounds. Sometimes we only think about keeping our hands away from our mouths as a way to avoid introducing contagious infections into our bodies. However, many gym-goers may have an open scrape or cut, an open blister, or even a raw hangnail that creates an additional opening for infection to enter. Cover up your open wounds with Band-Aids, or even gauze and athletic tape to avoid rubbing them against equipment and other surfaces.
  6. Be very conscious about not touching your face while at the gym. Chances are, your mom has been telling you to keep your hands out of your mouth since you were a toddler. If you’re a nail-biter or otherwise inclined to put your hands near your face out of habit, it’s good to consciously remind yourself to keep your hands away from your face and mouth until you’ve had a chance to wash your hands after your workout.
  7. Avoid the gym completely if you’re feeling under the weather. Not only can you spread your germs to all sorts of pieces of equipment and make others sick, working out while you’re sick compromises your immune system’s ability to fight infection, so you may be extending your sick time. If you’re feeling bad, it’s best to stay home and rest until you feel better!

With these simple tips, you’ll reduce your chance of picking up an infection such as the flu or a cold while at the gym. Overall, the health benefits of exercise outweigh the risks of getting sick from something you picked up at the gym, but it’s best to be careful wherever you are so that you can do your best to avoid getting sick and keep yourself healthy year round!


Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation. Each Wednesday we swap blog posts with the Tar Heel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on



Patel, Arti. How to Avoid The Cold and Flu At The Gym. The Huffington Post Canada. 06 October, 2014.

Wooldridge, Leslie Quander. Don’t Get Sick at the Gym: 7 Ways to Prevent Infection. U.S. News & World Report. 12 April, 2012.

Gym Playlist: Mardi Gras Edition

Mardi Gras is upon us, and who doesn’t need a reason to celebrate? Mardi Gras is not only about partying and parades down Bourbon Street; it is considered the final day of revelry before Ash Wednesday, leading into Lent. It was first celebrated by French-Canadian explorers in 1703, and 15 years later the city of New Orleans was established.

Image courtesy of Randy Heinitz on Flickr.

The first Mardi Gras “parade” was held in New Orleans on Feb. 24, 1857 by the Krewe of Comus, including a street procession of maskers and floats that dazzled its residents. This began the tradition of parades with floats and usually followed with a ball. In present day, music guides the parades, picnics, and floats, and people are dressed in purple, green, and gold – the official Mardi Gras colors.


Before you indulge in king cake and layer on the beads, get in a quick workout with these New Orleans-inspired songs:                                                                  

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

1) When the Saints Go Marching In – Louis Armstrong

Warm up with this traditional New Orleans tune. This is may be considered the “unofficial anthem of New Orleans,” as Armstrong was born and raised in the city. New Orleans is also often considered the birthplace of jazz. This song can keep you marching around the track to warm up your muscles.

Exercise: Jogging

2) Make Em Say Uhh – Master P

Percy Miller, aka Master P, was also born and raised in New Orleans.  He founded his own record label, starred in movies, and even did a stint in the NBA. This is his highest grossing song to date, and the album it was on went triple platinum. CLASSIC.

Exercise: Crunches, sit-ups, Russian twists

3) Set Fire to The Rain (New Orleans Bounce Remix) – Adele and DJ Kayenne

If you’re unfamiliar with New Orleans Bounce, or bounce music, it is a style of New Orleans hip hop known for its energetic beats and call-and-response chants. Trust me, you’ll like it!

Exercise: Sumo squats, squat-lunges, squat pulses

4) Halftime – Ying Yang Twins

STAND UP AND GET CRUNK! Enough said. The song came out 12 years ago, but is still played at most New Orleans Saints games, mostly after touchdowns. It was known as the team’s anthem during their 2009 Super Bowl season.

Exercise: Jumping jacks, burpees

5) Fireman – Lil Wayne

I couldn’t do a New Orleans list without Lil Wayne. He grew up there and always speaks highly of his hometown. He recorded this song in the city in 2005, and the music video was filmed shortly after Hurricane Katrina. (Go ahead and listen to about 10 more Lil Wayne songs, I know you want to.)

Exercise: Your favorite exercise– you might be listening here for a while!

6) Still Fly – Big Tymers

You’re probably still sweating, but you also still most likely look fly. This duo, consisting of rapper Baby (Lil Wayne’s “dad”) and rapper-producer Mannie Fresh, originated in New Orleans and released several successful albums in the early 2000s.

Exercise: Rowing, shoulder press, lat pulldowns

7) Carnival Time – Al Johnson

– This is a certified Mardi Gras anthem.  Johnson, who is also known as Carnival Time, was the king of Krewe du Vieux, one of the original parades, in 2005. The krewe is known for showcasing the best brass and jazz bands in New Orleans. This can lead you right into your celebration!

Exercise: Cool down and stretching


For more workout tips, check out the Workout Wednesday blogs from Campus Rec! And of course, for anything else wellness-related, check out our resources at Student Wellness .


Angelica Arnold is the Program Assistant for Health and Wellness at Student Wellness. She is a first-year Master of Public Administration candidate at the UNC School of Government. Her focus is on state, local, and nonprofit programs for nutrition education and walkable communities. She also a volunteer instructor for UNC Fitness Breaks and a youth basketball coach.

Workout Wednesday: Establishing a Semester Fitness Routine

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the first week of classes! By now you’re probably starting to get yourself settled into a new semester routine! I know that I always appreciate consistency in my busy weekly routine each semester. I tend to eat lunch at the same time, in the same place every Tuesday or eat dinner with the same people every Thursday. It makes my weeks feel like they flow more smoothly and by being a creature of habit, I at least know that I have time for everything because I’ve mentally scheduled it all in.

I also like to make myself a weekly workout schedule to make sure that I’m working out consistently and taking care of myself! I try out a few group fitness classes during the first couple of weeks of the semester, then pick my favorite classes that work with my schedule, and from there I make myself a personal weekly fitness routine that I can follow, more or less, throughout the entire semester!

Because this semester has just started, I’m still working on figuring out what routine I’ll like this spring. Instead, I’ll share my fitness routine that I really enjoyed last semester with the help of Campus Rec group fitness classes!

Mondays: No convenient time for any group fitness classes. I wrapped up the day with a 30-40 minute workout from when I got home for the evening. Training Time videos on Campus Rec’s YouTube channel ( are great resources for at home workouts, too!

Tuesday: Alternate weeks between Absolution with Annie from 6:25-6:45 pm or yoga with Emily from 7-8 pm, depending on my schedule

Wednesday: Day off? More like spend all evening on my feet at work, but still, no scheduled exercise.

Thursday: Kick n’ Sculpt with Mia from 12:15-1 pm. I love Mia’s energy, getting my workout in earlier in the day, and trying to convince friends to ditch their other favorite group fitness classes to come jump around at Kick n’ Sculpt with me!

Friday and Saturday: My choice! Let’s be honest: some weeks, Friday afternoon free time was devoted to napping instead of exercise. If the weather was pretty, I liked to go for a walk or jog on a nearby trail. If not, I turned back to my trusty friend,, and didn’t even have to leave the house!

Sunday: A true day off!

And there you have it! My semester exercise routine was simple, flexible, and I actually enjoyed it because I planned it myself around my class and work schedule. Some weeks, I was busy or just plain tired, so I only picked three days to work out. Other weeks, I was rested, less stressed, and had enough energy to work out on four or five days! I just took it one day at a time, but I liked knowing that I had several good opportunities to be active that I really enjoyed every week!

Whether you’re just beginning to exercise regularly or you’ve been doing it for quite a while now, you can make your own weekly workout routine this semester! Here are my quick tips for getting started:

  1. Decide what setting you like for exercising. Do you like group fitness, exercising by yourself with cardio equipment and music, the gym, the great outdoors or all of the above? Incorporate your favorites into your routine and remember to account for possible bad weather.
  2. When do you like to work out? You may like mornings, late at night, afternoons, or just whenever you can make time in your busy schedule!
  3. Choose how many days you want to try to work out every week!
  4. If you like group fitness classes, try out several to see which are your favorites, or alternate which class you go to each week if more than one class is offered at the same time.
  5. Do you prefer to have a friend to work out with you? Coordinate your schedules and meet up on campus!
  6. Are you a little obsessed with some show on Netflix right now? Bring your phone or iPad with you to the gym and choose the elliptical or stationary bike to exercise while still watching that favorite show.
  7. Listen to your body! Making a “schedule” or “routine” doesn’t mean that you have to follow it exactly, every single week, no matter how exhausted or sore you are. If you stayed up too late studying the night before or your legs are so sore from yesterday’s workout that you’re waddling around campus, just go ahead and take the day off!

If you’re a beginning exerciser, realize that creating an exercise plan for yourself doesn’t need to be stressful, intimidating, or over-the-top! You don’t have to jump right into lifting weights or exercising for an hour at a time when you’re just getting started! Even if you already exercise regularly, having a routine can make it easier and can keep you from having stagnant weeks.

Campus Rec’s repeating weekly schedule of group fitness classes galore has helped make exercising fun and has helped me to have several active days every single week! Check out the Spring 2016 Schedule (subject to change slightly as everyone settles into the semester) and plan to make this semester active and healthy with Campus Recreation!


Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation. Each Wednesday we swap blog posts with the Tar Heel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on

You Hear That? That’s Your Body Speaking…

“You can do it…push yourself…keep going…DIG DEEP!” says the super pumped professional fitness class instructor, as I vigorously take breaths to sooth the discomfort that my chest is in from working out. I hear him telling me to ‘keep going’, even though my legs are ready to buckle from exhaustion and constant beads of sweat find their way into my eyeballs causing more discomfort. I am fatigued and my body is aching and all I can think to myself is, “No, Super-Pumped-Professional-Fitness-Class-Instructor—I cannot keep going…aaaand because you are going to keep my $10 for this class, I am just going to leave now.”

This, my friends, is a prime example of me listening to my body. I could have ‘dug deep’ and continue to push my body, but it was clear that my body was telling me to stop. Listening to your body, pretty much means being aware and in tune with how your body is feeling and reacting (usually physical, but not all the time). How did I know my body was screaming at me to stop? Or that doing an extra rep could cause me injury? Welp, not being able to breathe was one sign.

Joe Vennare, from , lists some common warning signs to ‘listen’ for to prevent three problematic conditions that occur often while working out:

  • Overtraining: Take time for your body to rest and recover!Listen1
  • Injury: Be sure to stretch, take breaks, and get doctor check-ups often!listen2
  • Disordered sleep: There is nothing wrong with an ‘adult bedtime’. Good sleep is needed to function!listen3

Yes, physical wellness is important to consider when thinking about positive health and wellness. Yes, we know that there are things in life that have to be done like….right now, but just pause for a second! Let your body in on the conversation and listen to what it is saying to you.


WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Treadmill or Elliptical – Which is Better?

Quick – which machine burns more calories, the treadmill or the elliptical? And what are the dangers of using each? And which is better overall? Most gyms contain rows of different cardio machines and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. We’re going to focus on the two most common machines here, the treadmill and the elliptical. Each one has it pros and cons, and the bottom line is that is depends on your body and your fitness goals.

Let’s talk about the treadmill first. Basically, this machine emulates walking and running on a flat surface. The treadmill is very versatile and can be adjusted to different inclines and speeds. When you use a treadmill, you are using familiar body movements rather than having to deal with awkward machines. Above all, walking and running strengthens muscles and bones over time. However, overuse of the treadmill without stretching before can really do a number on your joints if you aren’t careful. Running is hard and intense – you need to be ready and in adequate shape before using a treadmill for too long.

On to the elliptical! The elliptical is low-impact (good for your joints) and allows for cross-training with the arm handles. Not to mention – you can use the elliptical backwards to work different muscle groups. It’s a great choice if you are recovering from an injury or if you want to do a long cardio session. However, this machine can be awkward to use at first as it’s unlike walking or running. The elliptical much less dynamic than the treadmill in terms of speed and intensity. Its also deceiving how hard you are working out, as its easy to use only the momentum at low intensities.

What about calories? If you’re trying to maintain a health weight, this could be important to you. A study by the Medical College of Wisconsin showed that the average number of calories burned per hour on the treadmill was about 800, while the elliptical was 770.This difference is almost negligible, so read on for more distinctions.

All in all, the elliptical is a great choice for you if you want to improve cardiovascular health with low impact (safer on the joints!). High interval training (there is usually a button on the machine) will give you the best workout on the elliptical. On the other hand, a treadmill will make you work harder and is a better choice for more experienced exercisers. For the best workout regimen, try to include both machines to reap all the benefits without overbearing your body. Not to mention – variety can really spice up your workout!

This post was written by Ben Smart at Tar Heel Toneup

Ben is a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in Public Health Nutrition with minors in Broadcast & Electronic Journalism, and Spanish for the Medical Professions. From kettle bell workouts to green tea, Ben is a huge health nerd with aspirations to attend medical school. He also plans to use his multimedia journalism skills to advance public health. His mission is to help other college students maximize their health and fitness, even when they are busy.