When I first came to university, it seemed like a no-brainer to get a membership for the Sports Centre. I lived in Agnes Blackadder Hall, meaning I was just minutes away, and I was intent on being healthy with all the lifestyle changes that university brings. And for the first semester, I did purchase a gym membership, along with the extra Taekwondo member fee, and was an active participant in the sports club.
However, after a minor injury, I started to second-guess the excess spending towards staying healthy. There had to be alternatives to staying in shape that didn’t cost hundreds of pounds a year, right?
While I knew the average costs to participate with a sports club, or the Sports Centre generally, were expensive, I didn’t realise how bad the situation was until I sat down and did the math. According to their website, a regular gym membership costs £75 for the year (required for participation in sports clubs), while a Fitness membership, which gives you access to guided classes and other facilities, costs £160 annually.
On top of paying the required Sports Centre membership to join a sports club, clubs also require you to pay an additional fee to be a member of that specific club, ranging from £30 to £100 a year depending on the sport.
While we traditionally think of joining a gym or sport while at university to be the easiest way to stay in shape, what happens when that “quick fix” to staying healthy costs anywhere from £100 to £260 a year?
As I started second year, I was initially intrigued by YogiSoc (University of St Andrews Yoga Society) because it seemed like a relaxed, welcoming environment to stay healthy and active. However, as I got more involved with the society and attended classes as often as possible, I quickly realised how much of a bargain the society truly is, especially in comparison to joining a sports club.
A Year Unlimited membership with YogiSoc costs £60; this, combined with their near-daily classes, means you could essentially attend yoga every day and pay 50 to 75 per cent less than joining the gym.
For example, a typical schedule of the classes which YogiSoc offers may look like this (based on an actual week in the previous semester):
Monday, 7-8 pm: Glow Yoga at The Vic
Tuesday, 10:00-11-15 am: Power Yoga
Tuesday, 5:00-6:00 pm: Hatha Yoga
Wednesday, 12:15-1:15 pm: Ashtanga
Thursday, 3:30-4:30 pm: Yin Yoga
Friday, 9:00-10:00 am: Flow Yoga
Friday, 4:00-5:00 pm: Relaxing Yin
Saturday, 10:30am-12:00 pm: Seasonal Yoga
Sunday, 2:00-3:00 pm: Vinyasa
In addition to a regular schedule of events, the society also offers special events like Aerial Yoga in Dundee, Lululemon pop-up shops, and mindfulness and meditation sessions, supporting a healthy lifestyle and overall wellbeing for its members. My personal favourite are the classes centred around stress and mental health during revision weeks and yoga for relaxation; it’s a thoughtful way to continue classes through revision while encouraging members to take care of themselves.
Of course, some may shake their heads and say, “It’s not the same as sport! Yoga isn’t exercise!” And, while some of the YogiSoc classes are more relaxed, others like Power Flow or Vinyasa will get your heartbeat up and make you sweat, while helping you relax as well. Slower classes like Relaxing Yin or special mindfulness yoga sessions will mainly help you unwind, but they are still a way to keep your body active and get moving, and thus this type of yoga shouldn’t be understated.
Since joining YogiSoc, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my mental and physical health. I’m more flexible, I want to keep my body strong, and I’ve learned essential breathing and relaxation techniques to help me deal with exam stress and anxiety. Plus, doing yoga encourages me to take care of my health in other aspects, like eating healthy, drinking more water, and taking long walks.
Now in my third year, I advise everyone I meet to consider YogiSoc if they are hesitant about breaking the bank by joining a sports club or the gym. For great deals, you can attend classes as often as you want and stay in shape while supporting your overall health.
If you’re looking for a way to practice strength training or lose 30 pounds, rigorous exercise like that at the Sports Centre may be better to help you achieve your goals. However, if you’re looking to get in better shape or support a healthy lifestyle, and you’d prefer to save a few hundred pounds, consider joining a society like YogiSoc instead.