by Kathryn Donati, College of William and Mary and Spring ’19 Umbra Rep
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a study abroad program, things like location, program cost, dates, and classes. Fitness usually tends to fall at the bottom of that list even though studies have shown that working out consistently boosts mental health, stress levels, and can actually help you feel less homesick if you do activities you normally do at home. So, now you’re in Perugia — how do you workout? Here are your options!
Workout at home! // This might seem like the most obvious option, but it can be hard to muster up the motivation to workout on your own in a casual location, like your living room. This is where the internet can help. YouTube videos, Pinterest graphics, and thousands of blogs all thrive on at-home, equipment free, step-by-step videos. Now is also the perfect time to try new things you may be too timid to try in the gym. So move that couch back, lace up your sneakers, and try that new workout routine!
Final Thoughts: Free & no equipment needed (or available)
Get outside! // The opposite of working out indoors? Go outside! Perugia’s hills make running in the streets taxing on your knees not to mention your cardiovascular system so you can head to the outdoor running track. Free of charge and open all day, the track is the best place to get your cardio kick in. If running isn’t your thing, the local indoor swimming pool offers a discount for students. Take your yoga mat (if you’re obsessed like me and brought it all the way to Perugia) or your favorite picnic blanket, find a patch of green in one of Perugia’s beautiful parks, and flow! Also, the Saturdays you spend exploring your new home definitely count as exercise.
Final Thoughts: Maximum 5 euros, still no equipment, fresh air
Join a gym! // Perugia has a rather limited selection of gyms, according to an American anyway, but if you crave the structure, the treadmill, the free weights, and the sweat smell you have a few options. They come at a variety of price points, and most are a Minimetrò ride away — 1.50 euros one way/12 euros for a 10-pass. Make sure the money you’ll spend on a membership is within your budget and always re-rack your weights when you’re done.
Final Thoughts: The most ‘official’ way to stay in shape, more expensive than other options, equipment and classes
Workout with friends! // A great way to bond with others on the program, you can go for a hike, go exploring together, or attempt (and fail, the way Ruby and I did here) a pairs workout! Your shyness will fade as soon as you start laughing and at the very least, you’ll get an ab workout.
Final Thoughts: Best bang for your buck, usually free (maybe the cost of a post-workout Mr. Chips run), and creates the best memories
Rely on nature! // When all else fails, you can always rely on Perugia’s never-ending hills to help you work up to those late-night pastas. It’s easy to turn your morning walk to school into a mini-workout and if you’re feeling fancy, feel free to throw some lunges into your hike. With the weight of your backpack, you’ll be ready for your mid-morning gelato in no time.
Final Thoughts: Free, you’re going to do it anyway, and no, it never gets easier
“I don’t want to go to the gym — I’m in Italy!” One of the hardest things about maintaining fitness abroad is the simple fact that you’re abroad. There’s an expiration date on your time here and it can make you feel as if every moment not spent exploring, traveling, or doing something quintessentially “Italian” is a moment wasted. Fight that feeling! Putting yourself first at least once a day is necessary to staying sane, especially in such a new environment. Fit in your fitness, or however self-care looks to you, in the blank moments of your schedule that don’t detract from your exploring time. That block between your morning and afternoon class? Take your sun salutations outside and enjoy the stunning views of Perugia as you also take time to recharge. They don’t have to exist separately here.
Overall piece of advice: Make time for yourself.