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12 Awesome American College Gyms Everyone Envies

12 Awesome American College Gyms Everyone Envies

Those thousands of dollars you’re paying to go to college often don’t go towards bettering your education. Instead, many universities use that massive influx of cash to build insanely complex gyms; gyms that would cause Arnold Schwarzenegger’s jaw to drop faster than you can say “get to da choppa!” Now, this is both super cool, and really distressing, since I’d bet the majority of college kids would rather have their books and room and board be free than have a gym worthy of your average millionaire. But I digress! Let’s suspend reality for a moment and just enjoy these ridiculously amazing college gyms.

1. University of Minnesota

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    Is it the pristine hardwood floor, or the wrap-around indoor running track that does it for me? I would have to say a little bit of both. These guys got so into their gym that they hired expert architects to do all sorts of fancy design tricks to keep you motivated while working out. The college I attended unfortunately did not have anything like this, and for that I shed numerous tears each night (not really).

    2. University of Missouri

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      I guess these folks wanted to make up for the fact that they’re nowhere near any oceans by decking out the aquatics portion of their gym to the absolute max. It looks more like an amusement park than your average sparsely decorated college aquatics facility. There’s even a lazy river, which is something you’d expect to find in Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, not at a college campus.

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      3. Ohio State

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        Oh how nice it is to go to a college with a big football program. Ohio State has an indoor football field in their gym, as well as a second level jogging track for students to utilize. Additionally, there’s more workout contraptions than you can shake a stick at. Oh, and lots of big windows too.

        4. University of North Dakota

          These guys are really enthusiastic about incorporating zen or mediation to their gym. It’s built to let in as much light as possible, and there are even rooms dedicated to quiet relaxation and yoga. I can actually see why this would be useful to your typical overworked and stressed college student. Bravo, North Dakota.

          5. University of California, Irvine

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            How cool is it to have a gym so awesome, that Kobe Bryant likes training there? Well, if you go to UC Irvine you know how that feels. Their gym is equipped with the best of the best in terms of quality and technology, and that means even professionals go there to hone their craft. I could have given you an image of some fancy cardio contraption, but this one featuring Irvine’s giant rock wall was more amusing.

            6. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly)

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              Along with priding itself as one of the only CSU schools to compete with the UCs in terms of educational value, Cal Poly also boasts a recreation center extensive enough (read: lots and lots of tennis courts) to compete against that of any college in the country. Looking at the pictures, I admit that I am a little bit jealous.

              7. University of Denver

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                You might think that living a mile high in the sky would be enough of a workout for these people, but you would be wrong. The gym at the University of Denver comes equipped with a hockey rink, as well as countless other amenities. They even have it divided into particular specialized zones so that you can get the best work out possible. I doubt it’s easy to find an out of shape student at this school.

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                8. University of California, Santa Cruz

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                  So maybe I’m biased in adding this one; oh well. Santa Cruz has a small gym compared to the rest of the schools on this list, but the views overlooking Monterey Bay are to die for. The jogging track is outdoors, unlike some of these ridiculously high tech gyms, but it serves its purpose and, again, you’re treated to a wonderful view. There’s also multiple pools, a basketball court, a soccer field, and plenty of tennis courts. Oh, and I guess this doesn’t really count as a “gym” amenity, but there’s super cool hiking trails everywhere. Not bad for a division three school!

                  9. Northwestern University

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                    Here is another one that doesn’t necessarily have a standout gym, at least compared to the other places on this list. The unique thing about Northwestern is that their recreaction center provides students with classes about health and nutrition, if they wish to take them. Considering Northwestern’s educational reputation, it’s no surprise that they’d try to infuse a bit of learning into the workout process.

                    10. University of Alabama

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                      Football is king in the south, and it shows in their dedication to their athletes’ gym. Endless rows of weight equipment. Multimillion dollar renovations. I hate to chime in here with a little bit of opinion, but if we took like 10% of the money used to pay for this stuff to reduce tuition, that would be pretty cool.

                      11. Purdue University

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                        I couldn’t find anything too out of the ordinary about this place except that they have tons of rock walls you can climb. Oh, and they spent nearly one hundred million dollars on renovating their recreation center. Those must be some super high tech rocks!

                        12. University of South Carolina

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                          Not to be confused with the more famous (or infamous) USC in California, the USC in South Carolina has a gym that’s just about full to bursting. What caught my eye is that their recreation center includes “five basketball and volleyball courts, five racquetball courts, a squash court, a soccer and floor hockey court, and a jogging track.” All indoors, remember. Five basketball courts. Five?! Now, if it’s those dinky little half courts that’s not too impressive, but if they mean five full-sized courts, well, don’t mind me while I go sit in a corner and wish I went there!

                          What do you guys think about these (for the most part) gaudy gyms? Are they useful facilities that help students succeed, or overpriced boondoggles? Comment below!

                          Featured photo credit: UCSC Gym/ Samuel Swayze via flickr.com

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                          Last Updated on June 15, 2018

                          What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                          What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                          Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

                          Video Summary

                          Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

                          Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

                          Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

                          Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

                          This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

                          Sitting Is the New Smoking

                          Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

                          The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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                          Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

                            Sit Properly

                            If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

                            Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

                              Credit: StayWow

                              Stand Up More

                              Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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                              Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

                              Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

                              Or get a standing desk.

                              One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

                              Exercise for Lower Back Pain

                              Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

                              But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

                              The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

                              Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

                              Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

                              This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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                              Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

                              Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

                              There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

                              Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

                              I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

                              Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

                              If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

                              Where to Start

                              The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

                              Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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                              If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

                              Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

                              Keep a straight back.

                              Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

                              Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

                              I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

                              If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

                              Stay Away From the Back Pain League

                              Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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