Students fit exercise into college schedules through apps, off-campus options


Exercise has been shown to increase cell development, improve memory and help increase the ability to focus. However, knowing how to fit in a workout between classes and studying for exams can prove challenging, according to the United States Sports Academy.

Several fitness apps and off-campus options are available for college students to help incorporate exercise into their busy schedules.

Fitness apps

The use of fitness apps has grown by 330 percent between 2014 and 2017, according to research from mobile analytics firm Flurry. The flexibility available through fitness apps appears to be a good option for college students on the go.

Senior exercise and wellness major Michaela Tanne said she enjoys the options available through fitness apps like Garmin and Strava.

“Fitness trackers really push me, and I like tracking my progress,” Tanne said. “I think what pushes me to exercise is if I have an end goal in mind. By keeping track, I get a lot more done, and I’m a little more motivated.”

Michaela Tanne demonstrates some of the features of her Garmin watch on the SFH Track. (Lauren Lethbridge)

The Garmin product line of activity trackers and smartwatches offers wrist-wearing devices that record fitness progress, sleep duration and water consumption. The Strava app allows users to track their distance traveled and heart rate while setting running or cycling goals.

A new fitness app called Trainiac currently has an option available for college students, according to Trainiac Marketing Manager Luke Eichinger. Instead of paying the program’s regular monthly fee, college students pay a discounted price of $29.99 per month.

Trainiac app users work with one of 16 certified personal trainers who create a customized workout plan tailored to specific fitness goals. Interaction through real-time video, text and audio message allows users to receive fitness tips, form correction, nutrition advice and encouragement, according to the Trainiac website.

CEO of Trainiac Akshay Ahooja said the app is ideal for college students hoping to incorporate exercise into their busy schedules.

One of 16 personal trainers are available to form customized fitness plans through a new online fitness app called Traniac. (Traniac)

“I remember college was incredibly busy, I couldn’t get much working out done,” Ahooja said. “I didn’t really know what workouts to do in the gym or in my room and didn’t have the time to figure it all out. That’s where I really wish I had a platform like this to turn to.”

Tanne said Trainiac sounds appealing but believes there are more affordable or free options available.

“I would personally never invest that much money,” Tanne said.  “One thing that I’ve done for my whole college career is invested in a watch or equipment because it’s a one-time thing.”

Despite the cost, Trainiac has seen 300 percent growth in the last three months, according to Ahooja. He offered advice for students struggling to fit exercise into their schedules.

“Do workouts that make you feel energized, push your limits, but don’t scare you away,” Ahooja said. “Before you know it, you’ll have built out a habit of fitness.”

Off-campus options

BYU computer science major John Sanabria said exercising with others is a practice that has helped him stay committed to a workout routine.

“Habits are really good, so I think it really comes down to accountability,” Sanabria said. “I wouldn’t be going to the gym if I didn’t have someone that would be disappointed if I didn’t go.”

VASA Fitness is an off-campus option available for college students looking to increase their physical activity. A $10 monthly fee and other contract options are offered as well as personal training for $80 every two weeks. Two gyms located in Orem and Provo are open 24/7, except on Saturdays and Sundays.

There is a VASA Fitness in Orem, Utah, which is open 24/7, except on Saturdays and Sundays. A VASA Fitness location is also available in the Provo area. (VASA Fitness)

Sanabria said he signed up for a VASA membership and personal training in Orem after a summer of heavy eating and little exercise.

“I would eat a burger with bread and fries every day,” Sanabria said. “Since I wasn’t really doing any exercise, I was just kind of packing it in, and that wasn’t really great. The gym is definitely a good motivation.”

Sanabria said the cost may be something students don’t want to commit to, but paying the price can help maintain motivation in exercising every day.

“I think it’s a good idea because nobody really knows how to work out correctly,” Sanabria said. “People just need to budget and afford it.”

The Provo Recreation Center is another off-campus exercise option for BYU students and offers a social environment with a variety of classes and equipment available. A membership is required, but the recreation center offers discounts that make the fee more affordable for students, said facilities manager Bryce Merrill.

The recreation center is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and has a $5 daily admission fee. Membership prices vary depending on residency and contract duration.

The recreation center recently opened a new addition to its facilities at the Peaks Ice Arena. The facility is 7,000 square feet of functional open gym space, turf and racks designed for modern functional workouts, according to Merrill.

The Provo Recreation Center offers several options and discounts that make the center more affordable for college students, according to Facilities Manager Bryce Merrill. (Provo Recreation Center)

The new space is not designed to be a serious lifting area but still provides the tools and machines for high-intensity interval training and functional movement. The size of the space allows for multiple groups — like intramural or club sports teams — to practice and get together to enjoy a fun, social workout, according to Merrill.

“(In) this generation, we work out differently,” Merrill said. “It has to be a fun and social experience in addition to a good workout.”

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