Posted on December 06, 2016 by Jasmine Shaddock

Students who make the most of their onsite gyms have been proven to achieve higher grades, reduce their stress levels and sleep well. We believe gyms to be motivating and inspiring places for students. Find out how we recommend making the most of your student gym.

Woodland Court Student Gym by motive8

Woodland Court Student Gym by motive8

Exercise for stress relief

It is now common knowledge that exercise can be a great antidote for stress and anxiety. Although stress is an emotion that occurs in the brain, it affects our whole body. In fact, some of the most common symptoms of stress include sleeping poorly, loss of appetite and difficulty in concentrating.

Student stress tends to vary during the academic year. The first few days and weeks after enrolment are the most stressful for many students. Exam-times are “peak stress” for almost everyone. Hand-in deadlines and the lead-up and return from holidays can also be very busy and stressful. These are times when there’s so much to do that there’s a temptation to leave out exercise and get into an unhealthy work/sleep/party routine.

Exercise is often recommended for stress relief, as scientists have found aerobic exercise in particular to help reduce the common symptoms of stress. This is mainly due to the chemicals released in the brain when we exercise called endorphins. Here are some ideas for great aerobic workouts in your student gym:

weight-lifting class in student gym


Exercise classes are a great way of meeting new people, letting off some steam and a fantastic source of aerobic activity. There is a huge range of class-based activities that all meet the need of aerobic exercise – some also offering muscle strengthening and conditioning at the same time.

Classes can vary from dance fitness, martial arts, step classes and many more and usually included in gym membership. Try them all out and you may find something new that you really enjoy!

“A large part of anxiety and stress for new students is making friends and building up a social life,” says Nick Sadler, Director of motive8. “Exercise in the gym makes those barriers disappear and it’s easy to find people who have something in common, whether they both like cycling or weight lifting.”

Gym equipment

Treadmills, rowers, cross trainers and spin bikes are all great for a thorough cardio workout. Creating an exercise timetable for yourself to make sure you have included a variety of machines is a great way of keeping a workout interesting and seeing everything the gym has to offer.

It may be a surprise to some that circuits also contain an element of aerobic exercise. Skipping is a cardio workout that can be used in short intervals as HIIT in your circuits. Skipping ropes are very easy to store ina gym, only needs a small space to be used in and can be made interesting by so many different patterns and tricks.

Chapter Spitalfields Student Gym designed by motive8

Chapter Spitalfields Student Gym designed by motive8

Exercise for shaping up

There is a large community of student gym users who mainly come to buff-up or ‘get ripped’ rather than de-stress. With so many social engagements in a student calendar, having a gym in your accommodation building is so useful for staying in good shape for little cost.

“It’s important to try everything and mix it up,” says Nick. “Go there with a mind set to try absolutely everything out. That way you won’t get stuck in a rut.”

As a student gym is such a good asset to so many people, it’s a guarantee it will usually be quite busy. This is great as it provides another social occasion. Knowing which pieces of equipment to use to tone up is an advantage when all the popular options are already taken. Similarly, it’s also good to use a variety of equipment to avoid hogging one particular item.

Great Suffolk House Student Gym designed by motive8

Great Suffolk House Student Gym designed by motive8

Great Suffolk House Student Gym designed by motive8

Kettlebells, barbells, dumbells and medicine balls can all provide a great muscular strengthening and toning workout. Make yourself a rota and use each different type to get a feel for which ones you enjoy the most. Set some targets – it’s always satisfying to watch as you get stronger and fitter each week.

Don’t forget about mat work. This can sometimes be undervalued by some gym users who come to build as much muscle as possible, but mat work is also a great way of keeping in shape when time is tight. If your gym is particularly busy, rather than waiting for a certain piece of equipment, grab a mat and start planking!

“Barbells and dumbbells are great but one of the big trends in training these days can be done with just body weight. The old school ways are coming back into fashion! Pull ups, press ups, jumps off a bench into a squat are all great things to do whilst waiting for equipment.”

There are so many way of getting the most out of a student gym. For advice on designing a great gym, get in touch with our expert team.