Best thing to do when starting any exercise plan is to have some sort of end goal that you wish to achieve, shop be it simply being able to get off the couch and run a five-kilometer race to achieving a personal best time on a triathlon. I found that aimlessly going to the gym or exercising achieves absolutely nothing and usually ends as soon as you don’t feel like doing anything or when you give in and order a pizza. My current goal is to run the Dublin Marathon in 2015, try to do this I have several goals set out over several months to keep me motivated.

UCD Students are lucky in the sense that we have one of the best-equipped sports centers and gyms in the whole country, which is free to use for students. We are also fortunate enough to be part of a university, which is so large that there are very few sports that aren’t catered for on campus. If however like me, you don’t live on campus and or you don’t have the spare time to commit to a team, what should you do?  Also because the gym is free to students, it can be incredibly cramped at times, I have witnessed on a number of occasions the gym refusing students access due to it being so overcrowded.

For me, to run the marathon in 2015, there are several things I must do to get my body ready for the 26.2 mile run. The first thing I did was a trip down to Kildare Village. I got myself a good pair of running runners, two training tops and two pairs of training shorts for a similar price for what you would pay for just the runners on Grafton Street. A return bus to Kildare Village from Dublin City Centre costs only €10.

With my gear purchased I decided to join a gym. I chose to join Flye-Fit in Swords. Flye-Fit fits my student budget well, a monthly membership costs only €29. Flye-Fit have three other gyms in and around the City Centre and offer free classes as part of their membership. Flye-Fit’s option of being able to pay in month installments is fantastic. Most gyms will make you pay on an annual basis, most students just don’t have €300 to €400 spare for a gym membership.

My aim is to lose some weight so I can comfortably run long distances. I am taking full advantage of the free classes offered to me as part of my gym membership. For weight loss, spin classes coupled up with a kettle bell session is the most effective and my personal favorite. I am also looking to build my core strength. One thing that came very highly recommended to me for this is an app called Stronglifts. The app gives you three specific exercises to do per workout. The idea is that after each workout, you increase the weight resistance incrementally per exercise. Starting out with squats for example I started out using 20KG’S. The next workout I would use 22.5Kg’s, after that 25Kg’s and so on. It’s a great app for building core strength and as a motivational tool as you can physically see the progress that you are making over time. Best part is that the app is free to download.

For the running aspect, my favorite way to train is simple, to get up and just run. To monitor this effectively I use the Nike + app. It’s a running aid which is free to download form the app store. It works using the GPS on your phone to track you while you run. It shows you a map of your route, your distance and your speed. I spoke earlier about motivation, this app is brilliant for that, it allows you to set goals for yourself such as being able to run farther distances, to run faster or to just run more often. It also allows you to challenge friends and to compare your training with them.

If you are looking to join a gym to get fit, remember not all gyms are the same, it is important to do your research. Some gyms offer student discounts but then restrict you on when you can go. Others will entice you with a cheap sign up fee and then charge you per usage. If you don’t want to join a gym, have a go at a boot camp training camp. These suit the student budget as they are usually around €5 per class and have quite flexible timetables. Bootcamp Ireland for example is located five minutes from UCD in Donnybrook and offers some great value for their classes. A six week intensive course averages out at €5.50 per class for eighteen classes. As well as classes they also offer nutritional advice to help you out getting fit and healthy. Even if you only did the six-week course, this would set you up as you will have a good grounding on how to use equipment such as kettle bells and you will pick up some fantastic nutritional advice along the way.

The easiest part of exercise for me is the exercise itself, the other 90% of the battle is the motivation to go and do it. I have found that since I have set goals, have been eating better and have been seeing results that it is becoming easier and easier. What I am really trying to say is this. If I can do it, you can do it too.