A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Now that the first semester is over, the Masters students among us – as well as some third year undergrads – should be focusing on our thesis, and what better way to relieve the stress than by joining the University Sports Centre. Even if you’re not a fitness-fanatic, there should still be something to pique your interest, and it’s always good to have something besides work to occupy your time.
The USC has a wide range of classes including basketball, yoga, and boxing, as well as a fully equipped gym/fitness room, and is only a ten-minute cycle from Leiden Centraal. Once you’re on the system, access to the centre is granted via fingerprint recognition – a novelty I still regard as something straight out of the future. The practicality of this is that apart from a water bottle and towel, the only thing you need to bring to the centre yourself.
The gym itself has a range of weights and cardio machines and enough space (especially if you get there early in the morning) for you to place a mat wherever you like for your own workout. If you don’t fancy going it alone though, the yoga classes are a good place to start. The USC has a range of different yoga classes including Yin, Power, and Club Yoga, the latter of these being an interesting mix of traditional yoga moves to contemporary music. There are also a number of sports that I, at least, had never heard of before, so you can even give Piloxing a try (a mix of Pilates, dancing, and boxing for those who don’t know). Classes are generally held in English as well, so there’ll be no language gap stopping you from working out.
On rainy days, or even those days you simply don’t have the energy to head to the main sports centre, you can make use of the smaller gym within Plexus. Though not as big as the main centre, Plexfit is an entirely suitable substitute for the larger gym. You can also sign up for circuit training classes there, which are held a few times a day. Do remember to bring €1 with you for the lockers, something not required at the USC. However, if you do forget there is a small rack where you can hang your rucksack or bag inside the gym.
Current rates for USC membership are €103.50 for six months and €53.50 for three months. This may seem like a lot, but if you are committed to going to classes, or even just using the gym, it’s certainly a reasonable price. For example, the SportCity gym in Leiden doesn’t offer 6 months membership, which means paying €50 a month for a flexible month-by-month contract.
So, even if you don’t feel the need to lose weight, think of a gym membership as a healthy break from work. All those endorphins might even enable you to finish your thesis.