Fitness & Health

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Working out isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card

Ali Schwabe | Fulcrum Staff

NO, SERIOUSLY. THIS edition of foolproof fitness is all about how you can get in shape by heading to the library. No longer just for academics and cramming for midterms, the library can play a role in students’ physical fitness abilities too. And no, I’m not suggesting you go to Morisset and run up and down the giant, echoing staircase. I’m talking about the public library.

How can the public library transform your body? Well, not only will you need to escape the confines of campus to get there and burn a few calories on your walk to Laurier and Metcalfe, but there is a world of fitness treasures to be found once you get inside.

The main branch of the Ottawa Public Library has shelves upon shelves of fitness DVDs available for you to take home for free. No more embarrassing moments trying to figure out how to use the cardio machines at the gym. No more crawling home a sweaty mess after you sprinted three kilometres along the canal only to realize you didn’t quite have the juice left to make it back. No need to shell out whatever Jillian Michaels is charging for Killer Abs. Workout DVDs come free for two-week loan periods at the library, and the variety is astounding. Sure, you’ll find some crazy ‘80s jazzercise and aerobics videos, but you can also find modern DVDs spanning a multitude of fitness levels and workout types nestled on the library’s shelves. This past week, I picked up a Bob Harper DVD and a yoga/dance workout. It couldn’t be easier—just pop ‘em into a laptop or DVD player, and bam: you’re ready to get fit. Check the case before you sign out the DVD to see if any additional equipment is needed—some will recommend a yoga mat and hand weights, but a towel and cans of beans or water bottles can also be used in a pinch. When your electronic personal trainers are due back at the library, you can either try renewing them online or pick up a brand new workout to ensure you’re never bored with your fitness routine.

What else is available at the library? Books, of course! The library has an entire section devoted to health and fitness. This includes books on nutrition, managing stress, and fitness. Terrified of weightlifting? Looking for the best way to train for a marathon? Just want to try something new? The library is an oasis of inspiration where you can let yourself be taken away. New studies are always coming out, and experts in the field of health and fitness are constantly discovering new things—just make sure your book was published in the last three years so you get the latest and greatest tips. You can also pick up your favourite fitness magazines. The pictures of fit people will inspire you, and the articles are easy to digest and make for a great break when you have a pile of readings to get through.

So there you have it. The next time you don’t feel up for the gym, or just want to kick it at home, check out the library—it just might be the best-kept secret to getting fit.