If I took a survey of first-year students, I imagine that most of them don’t use more than one or two services offered by McGill. I know I haven’t. In my first year of university, I was completely unaware of the many things I could do at McGill—it took me a year to discover the school paper (and another year to discover that there was more than one), two years to discover McGill’s career services (CaPS) and three years to discover the McGill gym. I knew the gym existed and that I paid $120.50 a semester in Athletic fees. But I believed that walking around campus and up the mountain to my residence was exercise enough.
Many soon-to-be graduates will tell you that as graduation looms closer, a sudden desire develops (coupled with a panicky feeling that the end is coming) to try everything McGill has to offer. Recently I’ve tried to soothe the anxiety that I will never again be a student, will never take another McGill class, and will never again walk the halls of Leacock, by making the most of the services I haven’t yet used at McGill. And so, after overcoming the protests of my out-of-shape body, I bought a gym membership and trudged up Pine Avenue to visit the McGill Fitness Centre.
I’ll admit that I’ve never really been to a gym. I’ve been blessed with good genes, and even though I love eating Oreos and Pillsbury cookies, my body hasn’t put on all the weight it should have. But when I run from class on Peel to my next one in Trottier, my heart is beating rapidly and I’m short of breath.
My desire to try the McGill gym might also have something to do with the course I’m taking called “World of Chemistry: Food” where, behind the details on which vitamins to take, and which food to avoid, the underlying conclusion is that we need to eat less and exercise more.
Visiting the McGill gym is both scary and exciting. At first, I had no idea where to go and couldn’t ask anyone for directions because I didn’t want anyone to guess that I wasn’t a real gym enthusiast. So, despite the wrong turns that led me to a locked stairwell where the only entrance led to the snowy outdoors, after walking around the gym back to the front entrance, I found the fitness centre, hopped on a treadmill, and started my workout.
You don’t need the details of my first workout. But I will tell you that I can now check another item off my do-before-I-graduate list.
It’s hard to believe that in first year, I didn’t even know where the gym was or that McGill offers activities other than academics. Did you know that there are clubs for virtually everything? There are even clubs catering to people who just want free food or people interested in playing imaginary games that only exist in Harry Potter books. If there’s one thing McGill and the Students’ Society should devote more time and money to, it’s promoting the many programs they offer that students may not already know about. Maybe they covered it in orientation week, but shockingly enough, students don’t remember everything they learn in orientation—I know I don’t. McGill students: get to know your school. You’ll save yourself much anxiety later on and when graduation comes, you’ll know that you got the most out of your university experience.