What to do after breaking up with the gym

After breaking up with my gym routine, I was desperate to find alternatives to staying fit. So far, I've found a ton of options at Dal.

Photo: Jason Petersson

Ever since Grade 10, I’ve been a big fan of going to the gym. Lifting weights, trying new machines, and dripping in sweat used to be exciting and motivating for me. When I came to Dal two years ago, my interest continued and increased with the seemingly endless possibilities available at the Dalplex weight room. I would go to the gym all the time; sometimes with friends, and sometimes alone. Working out was my way of practicing self-care and dealing with the stress of school.

As my second year rolled around, going to the gym adopted a new meaning for me. What used to be about getting stronger and de-stressing became about shrinking my body and punishing myself. Before long, working out was something that I felt I needed to do rather than something that I wanted to do. To save you the details of this toxic relationship, I’ll cut right to the chase: I finally decided to “break up” with my typical workout routine. When something is toxic, you’ve got to let it go, right?

Since the breakup, I’ve been feeling much freer. Who knew life could be so fun when you aren’t going to the gym for a gazillion hours every day? As I enter my third year at Dal, I still have a love for being active and exercising, but this time I have no interest in going to the gym. With this in mind, I’ve made it my mission to find other ways that I can move my body at Dal and around Halifax...and then try them all! So, if you’re not one for the gym or you simply want to try something new, join me in ditching my exercise addiction and finding a way to be active that I actually enjoy.

I began my search at the Dalplex. By now I’m pretty familiar with the place, but I have yet to try everything the facility has to offer. Check out what I found:

Rock climbing

At the summer camp I work at, we have a pretty cool climbing wall. While it was one of my favourite things to do as a camper, I can’t say I’ve had much practice since then. The Dalplex has a bouldering wall and a rock court available for all students. You can even register for a Learn to Climb program.


I’ve been a lifeguard and swim instructor since I got my certifications in high school, but other than splashing around in the lake during the summer, I haven’t be able to just swim in so long! The Dalplex pool offers various swims daily, and even a women’s only swim every Saturday night.

Group fitness classes

Dal offers more than 40 classes every week, from yoga to spin and everything in between. I’ve tried a few of these classes and they are So. Much. Fun!

Intramural sports

Intramural sports are a great way to be active with friends...and have a little friendly competition. If you don’t have a team, sign up as a free agent to join an existing team! Hmm, which new sport will I try this semester?

Noon hoops

Basketball was my favourite sport in high school when I played competitively and with my school team. I miss it so much! Little did I know there’s a drop-in pickup basketball program happening Monday through Friday from 11:30am–1:30pm in the Dalplex Fieldhouse. And it happens every single week. This is one I’m pretty excited about.

From there, I dug a little deeper and started working my way around campus. There are SO many societies, clubs, and groups at Dal that offer free, fun ways to be active while getting involved in the school’s culture. Some might even call it a double whammy!

DalDance Society

DalDance offers a variety of dance styles at all different levels. Dancing is a great way to move your body and feel good about yourself. Plus, it’s always good to learn a few moves that you can show off to your friends...or is it just me that does that?

Dalhousie Outdoors Society

The Outdoors Society puts on multiple events and trips every month. Most are completely free (or very affordable) for students. I love being outdoors, but without a car, I often feel stuck! This year, I will join the Outdoors Society on one of their adventures.

Sports clubs

Varsity sports not your bag? Me neither! With a little more variety than typical varsity sports, Dal's sports clubs can offer you a chance to try something new and be a part of a team.

Dal Bike Centre

I’ve had my bike from home sitting at the bottom of my stairs for over a year now (my roommates can vouch for this). At this point the tires are flat and I don’t even know where my helmet is. That’s where the Dal Bike Centre comes in! They offer FREE rentals and FREE repairs. Now that’s something I can get behind.

Finally, I made my way around the city and found a few activities I’m excited about trying.


The Oval: roller rink by summer, skating rink by winter. This has to be one of my favourite programs that Halifax offers. Up until the end of October, you can rent rollerblades, bikes, scooters, skateboards, and more for free at the Oval. All you need is a government-issued ID and you’re set. And when those cold months roll around, the Oval gets flooded and becomes an ice skater’s paradise.

Trips by Transit

Like I mentioned earlier, I love exploring the outdoors. But without a vehicle, hikes and parks can be hard to get to. That’s where Trips by Transit comes in. This company uses Halifax Transit to take you to and from areas all around the Halifax area.


This final suggestion is perfect for you early birds. YHZSweats is a group that offers a free waterfront workout every Wednesday morning from 6:30–7am. Meet at the Wave and be prepared to sweat!