Photo by Justin Barbin / North by Northwestern.

    Picture this: you are trapped inside an academic building of your choice and cannot escape. Your bed is far away. The vending machines are empty. Your only option is to emerge from the dark dungeon that is your lecture hall as buff as a SPAC addict. Free weights you have not – but a desk chair? That will do.

    Finding the time and energy to work out can be a struggle in itself and when wintry weather takes effect, making the trek to SPAC is almost as unappealing as writing that 20-page philosophy paper. Luckily, you can still stay trim without the help of a treadmill. All you’ll need are a few chairs and a little motivation.

    Supported Headstand
    Standing on your head can relieve stress and strengthen the core. Find a sturdy wall and get down on all fours, facing the wall. Straighten your legs, lifting your knees off the ground, and kick your legs upwards so that they rest against the wall. Take several deep breaths to steady your balance and hold the position for 30 seconds. Gently lower your legs and take a short break before repeating.

    Bodyweight Dips
    This exercise works your triceps and pectorals. Place two chairs far enough apart so that your feet rest on one chair and your hands rest on the other, without sitting on either chair. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle so that you sink below your original position, and then raise yourself back up to the level of the chair. Repeat the exercise 10 times, take a one-minute break and then complete two more rounds of dips.

    Side Lunges
    Stand sideways at the bottom of a staircase, facing the wall. Extend one leg forward, skipping three steps. Push down into a lunge position, hold for three seconds, then bring your other leg up so that your feet come together. Repeat until you reach the top of the stairs, then jog back to the bottom and start over again, switching your dominant leg.

    Stair Intervals
    Start by walking, then gradually increase speed with each flight until you reach a comfortable pace, skipping every two steps. To spice up the routine, take a quick break on each landing and alternate between 10 push-ups, crunches or jumping jacks. Stair intervals are especially effective in a building with several flights — think Kresge or University.


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